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GIANTS AT COWBOYS
This game looks to be the game where the best case can be made for the underdog, of all the games this weekend. However, we have our concerns. We actually have our concerns about both teams here. So, let's start with out concerns with the Giants.
The Giants come in riding a wave of momentum and confidence, since making the decision to go all out against the Patriots in the final week. They carried that momentum into Tampa last week and came away with a convincing win, with all areas of their came clicking, particularly at Quarterback with Eli Manning putting together 2 great games in a row, a rarity for him. So, what's the concern? Well, any team in any sport, riding a momentum wave, eventually comes down from that high. They eventually revert back the norm. Don't get me wrong, the Giants at the norm, are still a good football team that's played great on the road all year, losing just once. The one loss being to these Cowboys. But they went toe to toe with them for 3 quarters.
But the Norm may not be good enough to win a playoff game. The Norm, for the Giants, includes some very inconsistent play. Start with turnovers. Teams that turn the ball over don't win many playoff games. The Giants didn't turn the ball over in Tampa, and they won. But of all the remaining playoff teams, actually, of all the playoff teams period, the Giants were the only team with a negative turnover ratio. For one game, that stat may not mean much. Anything can happen. But when looking at a game and trying to determine which team is more likely to make a big mistake and turn the ball over, you can't ignore those numbers. It's a great indicator of what might be. It's a snap shot of your team in general. So, if the Giants come back down to earth, there's a good chance this game sways towards Dallas as the result of a turnover or two at crucial points in this game.
The other concern here with the Giants mental state, is, are the Giants just happy to be here. Last weeks game was so big for Manning, Coughlin, and the rest of the team, that there's a chance they are just happy to be playing another week. They HAD to win last week. Jobs were saved, careers were validated or at least give a stay of execution. Now they are playing with house money and they know it. A loss here, and it's still a good, unexpected season for the Giants.
There are just as many concerns for the Cowboys though. For starters, injuries. Specifically, Terrell Owens. We'd be shocked if Owens didn't play. He played the Super Bowl with a broken leg. He'll be on the field Sunday, you can count on it. The question is, will he be affective. Owens was the difference in the Giant games this year. Take away the big plays Owens made against the Giants and you may have different outcomes.
Terrell Owens changes the entire complexion of a football game. With him not in there, or with him not able to blow by opposing defenders, opens up the rest of the defense. Without having to worry about Owens you can take many more chances with blitzes and double teams elsewhere. He's a game changer which is why he'll be out there either way. The Cowboys will keep the Giants guessing through at least the 1st quarter and a half.
I don't see any reason why this game won't be close through 3 quarters just like the first two games. Actually, this game is more likely to be close through 3 quarters than the first two games, when you consider the Giants momentum high and the Cowboys long layoff, while their QB is sunning himself with Jessica Simpson down in Mexico.
A likely scenario is that the Giants revert to the norm by the 4th quarter while the Cowboys finally kick it into gear and take over the game. Which is why our selection here will be two part. With the larger selection on the Giants in the 1st half.
The 1st half is worth a look in this game. While the Cowboys are an explosive team, if they finish off the Giants this week, it's more likely to be in the 2nd half. For starters, the Cowboys have only won 5 1st halves all year by more than 4.5 points. Those first half wins by more than 4.5 came against the Rams, Eagles, Jets, Packers and Panthers. They lost 8 first halves straight up and pushed 2. So, 6-8-2 straight up in the first half, and 5-11 against the spread if the number was hypothetically -4.5 each game.
The score of the first Giant/Cowboy game at the half was 17-16 Cowboys. The score of the second Cowboy/Giant game at the half was 17-17.
The Giants are riding a momentum high here, after deciding not to rest players and go all out against the Pats. So, there's been no layoff for the Giants. No week off. Business as usual. They get to pick up this week right where they left off in Tampa and have the chance to carry that momentum into this game.
The Cowboys on the other hand, have had a couple of weeks off. How hard do you think they prepared for the meaningless Redskin game to close out the year? Plus last weeks bye week, with Tony Romo busy hanging out with Jessica Simpson down in Mexico........there's a very good chance that it will take the Cowboys some time to get going Sunday afternoon.
The Giants have the potential to be the sharper, more prepared team for at least the first half Sunday. The Giants would be a decent play here in the first half without all the extra intangibles mentioned, based on the Cowboys first half performance all year.
We'll make a smaller play on the Giants for the game. They deserve a shot. They are 8-1 on the road this year. Looking at each teams yards per point numbers we see the Giants on the road with a 14.5 on offense and an 18 on defense while the Cowboys at home are 13 on offense and 15 on defense. So, the Cowboys offense at home has been better than the Giants on the road, however, the Giants have the edge with the better numbers on defense. You also need to factor in that these are seasonal numbers. Each team is playing differently at the moment, with the Giants a little above normal and the Cowboys a little below normal. Plus, the X factor of the T.O. injury.
4* GIANTS 1ST HALF +4.5
2* GIANTS +7.5 FOR THE GAME
Playoff games rated from a low of 1* to a high of 7*
1* winners includes a +130 money line play