The Dallas Cowboys managed to win their way back to .500 last week, but a true test of their quality going forward will come this Sunday when the first-place New York Giants come to town.
The Cowboys made their way to 3-3 last week with a 19-14 road cover at Carolina that, based on this week’s NFL odds, has left bettors unimpressed. Depending on where you look, the Giants (5-2) are laying up to 1.5 points as road favorites.
Dallas may be deserving of its home ‘dog status this week. The Cowboys failed to inspire much confidence when scoring just one touchdown against the lowly Panthers last week and they now have several key injuries to deal with. In addition to running back DeMarco Murray being out another week, the Cowboys will be without their defensive captain—inside linebacker Sean Lee—against the Giants and beyond. On top of that, center Phil Costa—who had spearheaded the Cowboys’ running game since returning from injury—suffered a dislocated ankle and will also be out for significant time.
When forming this week’s NFL picks one would duly note the Cowboys went into New York and beat the defending Super Bowl champions in Week One, 24-17, as 3.5-point road underdogs. Since then Dallas has been as inconsistent as any team in the NFL.
The Cowboys’ defense took a big step forward in the win against Carolina, however. It held Cam Newton and the Panthers offense in check, thanks in large part to a secondary that’s evolving into one of the better pass-coverage units in the league. Dallas will have to continue that momentum to have a chance when Eli Manning and company come to town Sunday.
This game figures to go a long way in determining the fate of this year’s Cowboys. It will likely come down to their ability to withstand the injury issue and how quarterback Tony Romo and the offense can respond. Those questions loom large and make the Cowboys a risky proposition this week.
That said, this is why you play the games. There’s no accounting for the human element. Although the odds look like they’re stacked against the Cowboys, the home crowd could fire them up, one or two players can rise to the occasion, the opposition can choke. We’ve seen this time and time again. Sometimes this team plays their best football when their backs are up against the wall. I smell a big upset in this game and believe that ‘Boys will rise to the occasion.