NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5) at DALLAS COWBOYS (6-6)
Sunday, 8:20 PM ET, NBC, Sirius (NYG 92, Dal 93) Westwood One Radio
The NFC East Champion will be either the Giants or the Cowboys. This game is the first of the two-game series--the rematch is January 1--that will determine which one gets the prize. The loser has no assurance of a wild card since three other NFC teams hold 7-5 records going into this weekend's games. The Lions and Falcons won. Chicago is winning as I write this. The Giants are especially vulnerable. Thus, the only sure path to the playoffs is to be the Beast of the East.
What To Watch
The Giants showed resilience and toughness in losing to the NFL's two best teams, the 49ers and the Packers. The Cowboys are not one of the best teams, although they did take down the 'Niners, so perhaps the Giants have a shot. The Giants and Cowboys are near twins in performance.
Points scored: Giants 287, Cowboys 283.
Opponents QB rating: Giants 85.6, Cowboys 82.6.
Sacks: Giants 33, Cowboys 35
Yards per Game: Giants 379.8, Cowboys 385.6
Games like this always come down to third down stops and to turnovers, those drive-killing events that add drama to games. Dallas has 11 offensive turnovers. New York has 12.
Third downs? The Giants held opponents to a 38.9 success rate. Cowboys' opponents were successful 38.7 percent of the time. Yikes! Now my head hurts. Dallas is favored by 5.
Who Will Win
At times like this, I always consult my Magic 8 Ball for answers. Asked whether the Cowboys will win tonight, Magic said "My reply is no." Good enough for me. NEW YORK GIANTS