Pregame: Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a quick look at the matchups heading into Sunday.

— Biggest key to this game will be if the Giants are able to run the ball on the Dallas defense. This is the Cowboys’ first full game without their leading tackler [ILB] Sean Lee and it will be a struggle to replace his production. Both [RB] Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and [OLB] DeMarcus Ware (illness) missed practice pretty much all week, and whoever looks healthier come Sunday will give his team a leg up. The Giants offense is clearly powered by it’s passing game so if they can maintain balance they’ll be extremely difficult to stop. Even if the running game doesn’t start rolling, New York should find plenty of success throwing the ball through the middle of the field. Dallas has had trouble winning the turnover battle, and are hoping this season’s new look secondary can provide a spark by being opportunistic.

— More interesting will be the Dallas run game, which will be without [RB] DeMarco Murray and [C] Phil Costa. In the week one match up, the ability to run the ball propelled the Cowboys to victory, but they’ll have to overcome their injuries as well as a revitalized Giants defensive line with [DT] Chris Canty returning to form in his second game back. In the past couple weeks, Dallas has been power running straight into the teeth of opposing D’s; nothing off tackle, and no misdirection. Without their starting center and halfback, I expect more creativity designed to get [RB] Felix Jones on the outside and into open space. If it doesn’t work, the onus will fall squarely on the shoulder of [QB] Tony Romo.

— Romo and his receivers have had their share of mis-cues this season. Inconsistent play from [WR] Dez Bryant has been frustrating Cowboys fans, and [WR] Kevin Ogletree has not even come close to matching the performance he had week 1 against a banged up Giants secondary. The security blanket of [TE] Jason Witten is in full swing, and Romo’s trust in the big guy has him looking that way every pressure situation. The Giants will again feel the absence of [OLB] Jacquian Williams (knee), and they’ll need to find another form of coverage to shut down Witten and stall drives. And remember how effective the slant was for Dallas in week 1? Well don’t expect more of the same, as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has gone to more press coverage as his trust in [CB] Prince Amukamara rises.

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