There is no way to predict how this game will play out. The easy thing to do is predict another shoot out just like the first game between the Cowboys and the Giants this season. But how often do two games in a row play out the same way? It just doesn't tend to happen that way.
The Cowboys defense just isn't very good. I have tried to justify their performances throughout the season in different ways. But the reality is that they just don't perform at a high level for long stretches of time. Sometimes they are dominant for a quarter or even a half. But at some point they always seem to go soft. And they never seem to be at their best in the critical moments of the game. So the defense is what concerns me the most heading into the Sunday night showdown.
Demarcus Ware has put up 18 sacks this season. But how many of those sacks have come in game defining moments? Sean Lee has had some big plays. But how many of those big plays have come when the team needed them the most? There just doesn't seem to be a player on the defense that steps up when the moment gets big. I don't think we can expect that to change Sunday night.
So that means that the offense and special teams have to be on top of their game. Tony Romo should be good to go coming back from his hand injury. The Cowboys can't afford many turnovers from their offense in the game. And Romo needs to lead his offense to touchdowns, not field goals. The funny thing heading into the game is that Romo is one of the last guys on the team I am worried about. He has been playing lights out for quite a while and he has stepped up in big games before despite what his critics would have you believe.
Felix Jones and Sammy Morris will be very important as well. The Cowboys don't need to get into another game where the last offense with the ball wins. They need to control the clock and the game with the running game. Felix Jones should be healthy for this one. Derrick Dockery starting for Montrae Holland is a bit of a concern but I don't think there will be a noticeable difference in the running game with Holland out.
Dwayne Harris showed a little spark in the return game last week. Maybe he can finally provide some juice to the kick return game. Dez Bryant will be used on punt returns a lot more this week since there is nothing to save him for at this point. I give the Cowboys a big edge in special teams if Dez Bryant is going to get a lot of work returning punts. Of course that means that the defense actually has to force a few punts for Dez to get his opportunities.
I really could see this game going either way. The Giants could get out to a quick start and then pound the Cowboys into submission with Brandon Jacobs. Or the Cowboys could get out to a quick start and control the clock with the running game. Or it could be another shootout. I could even see Eli Manning and Tony Romo both come out a little shaky and the scoring stay down. Both teams have been so inconsistent this season it has been maddening to the fans of both the Giants and the Cowboys.
I'm going to pick with my heart. My head tells me to flip a coin. My heart tells me that Romo is playing the best football of his career and it is time for him to turn the corner and become respected as a big time quarterback. That means he needs a win Sunday night. I think the Cowboys will get the win. I'm picking the Cowboys to win the game 27-20. Of course, it will come down to the last minute. You can bank on that based on the way the season has gone.