When the Cowboys and Giants square off for the second time this season tomorrow night, a lot will be at stake for both teams. Another loss and the Giants will finish the season at .500 or worse for the second consecutive season. Currently in position for a Top 10 draft pick, there is so little hope that the local media is offering up the rival Dallas Cowboys as the model of franchise turnaround. New York has a proven championship level coach that is suspected of contemplating retirement.
They have a GM under fire for bad free agent acquisitions to cover up for mediocre drafting. Their incorporation of even the most basic parts of the West Coast Offense have been slow. Their defense is surrendering the most yards per game in the league. If the regime is likely to survive, a late-season surge and proof that the systems and players are salvageable might be the only option.
For the Cowboys, who are currently the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoff picture, the game is much more of a priority however. Dallas already has one loss within the division, and while they are tied in overall record with the Philadelphia Eagles, division record will be the all-important tie-breaker should the teams split their two matchups in a three-week window. In addition, when it comes to the wild card spot, barring a late-season run by a sub-.500 squad, there are 8 teams competing for six spots.
The two currently on the outside looking in have head-to-head situations with the Cowboys. San Francisco (6-4) has defeated Dallas already, so a tie in the standings means the 49ers would get the nod. Seattle has a similar record, but a loss against the Cowboys so Dallas has the edge. Still, to say Dallas’ hold on a playoff spot is tenuous is an understatement in the wild NFC.
Here’s a look at everything you need to be fully prepared for today’s 7:20 (DFW time) kickoff.
Date: November 23rd, 2014
Kickoff: 720pm Central (820pm Eastern)
Can I see the game on regular TV? Yes, the game will be on NBC. If you are away from your TV, you can watch online. here. We've also got radio on 105.3 The Fan with Fish on the pregame show.
Betting Line:Currently -4.0, Over/Under 47.5 (Line opened at Dallas -3.5) Dallas is 6-4 ATS in 2014, while the Giants are 3-7 ATS, just like their record.Dallas has not only won, but covered in the last three matchups between the two teams.
Tennessee (2-8) at Philadelphia (7-3) 1pm EasternThe Eagles and Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East, and of course a division championship is the fastest way to a playoff spot. Philly got railroaded in Green Bay last week in Mark Sanchez’s second start with the franchise. The Titans blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead to Pittsburgh last week and looks to snap a four-game winning streak. The Titans have prevailed in their last four games against the Eagles. Current Line: Philly (-11) | Rooting Interest: Titans
Arizona (9-1) at Seattle (6-4) 405pm EasternThe Cardinals are two and a half games up on Dallas for the NFC Top seed, but there’s still an outside chance. Should the Seahawks, win the NFC West and still end up tied with Dallas (as a winner of the NFC East) Dallas would get the tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head win. Current Line: Seahawks (-7) | Rooting Interest: Seattle
Detroit (7-3) at New England (8-2) 1pm EasternThe Lions are currently in the same position as Dallas, tied for their division lead at 7-3. By virtue of a better conference record (5-2 currently), Dallas is currently behind Detroit in tiebreaker procedures. Current Line: Patriots (-7) | Rooting Interest: New England
Green Bay (7-3) at Minnesota (4-6) 1pm EasternDallas and Green Bay are tied in overall record, but by virtue of playing (and winning) one more conference game, the Pack currently holds the edge. As Dallas is still in the hunt for a bye and a the wild card… for now they just hope everyone else loses. Current Line: Packers (-8) | Rooting Interest: Vikings
Washington (3-7) at San Francisco (6-4) 1pm Eastern Two teams with a circus atmosphere and distinctly different results. San Fran has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas so the Cowboys need to see them in the rearview mirror at all times. Even means their leading.Current Line: 49ers (-8.5) | Rooting Interest: Washington
Dez Bryant needs two TDs this year to become one of the handful of fastest-to-50 TD guys in history. CowboysHQ informed him of this ... keeping company with the likes of Alworth, Rice and Moss. Dez's response:
"No I don’t (know about that),'' Dez said. "But now I do ... that's pretty cool.''
Bryant isn't especially familiar with Alworth but of course knows all about Moss and Rice. Dez also knows that he doesn't want the pursuit of such things clogging his path to what's important.
If I get that, that’d be outstanding,'' said Bryant, who who presently has 56 catches for 793 yards and eight touchdowns.'' "All I know is, get it, it’d be fun. If I don’t, get the W. That’s all that matters.''
Bryant also needs two TD's to tie Frank Clarke for the fifth most in franchise history, and needs 207 yards and two TD's (at some point this season) to join Terrell Owens as just the second Cowboy to have three consecutive seasons with 1,000+ yards and 10+ TD's.
Our very educated guess: DeMarco Murray isn't long for Dallas.
One side mentions Jamaal Charles as a goal to reach. The other side thinks about Barber/Felix/McCoy as a pitfall to avoid. One side thinks 1000 yards in half a season is a start. The other side sees 26-year-old runners as being near-finished. Where are the lines are being drawn inside the DeMarco Murray/Cowboys discussions?
We've got the Premium scoop ... Exclusive: Inside the Cowboys' DeMarco talks .
CowboysHQ is reporting that Josh Brent is not likely to be activated tonight ... Tyrone Crawford was presented with a cake on the Cowboys team flight on Saturday for his birthday. It's Micah Pellerin's birthday today as he get's the varsity call-up ... Dallas players believe rookie DeMarcus Lawrence is ready to bust out today ... Our smartestest offensive guesses from watching practices at Valley Ranch this week? 1) Joseph Randle is in the gameplan behind DeMarco, maybe in part because of the scheduling crunch coming up. And 2) There is a "special'' package being installed for Terrance Williams to make a big play. ... Two essential pieces for smart Cowboys fans: "Self-Evaluation - Ranking the Roster.'' It's all here, along with the entire week of our coverage, stacked conveniently for your enjoyment!
A must-read every week for Dallas fans: Mark Lane's 'Cowboy 100': Facts and Figures for the Giants game, original research on the trends and the numbers for this week's game, so detailed it even includes referee tendencies and records when certain broadcasters are in the booth! Go get it!
"It’s a winning formula for us so far and that’s why it’s exciting. It’s always easy for guys to say, ‘Yeah, it’s about the team.’ I think especially when you’re at this point, where I’m at, it’s like, ‘Man, I want to do everything I can to hopefully get a glimpse of what a championship team feels like.’” - Jason Witten.