Friday Beer Run: N.Y. Giants at Dallas

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 10, 2008



We break down each divisional match-up with the vigor of a world-class keg-stand champion, using our Quality Stats to determine who really has those little advantages that help win football games in January and February.
 
We went 3-1 straight up and vs. the spread in the wild-card round.
 
Also see:
 
 
 
SUNDAY, 4:30 p.m. EST
N.Y. GIANTS at DALLAS
Teams
11-6
Overall Record (incl. playoffs)
13-3
2-5
Quality Record (incl. playoffs)
4-2
-4.6 PPG
Quality Point Differential (incl. playoffs)
-1.0 PPG
+2.0 (13)
+8.6 (3)
13.90 YPPA (24)
15.14 YPPA (17)
14.214 YPPS (13)
12.86 YPPS (4)
10.33 (6t)
10.33 (6t)
5.33 (1)
11.0 (7t)
5.51 (23)
7.38 (2)
83.4 (17)
75.1 (5)
-8 (23t)
+9 (8)
22.0 (28)
18.4 (22)
+7.5
Line
-7.5
47
Over/Under
47
* Indexes reflect regular-season finishes only. 
 
Vs. Quality Opponents
New York's 2-5 Quality Record and -4.6 PPG differential includes two losses to Dallas (by 10 and 11 points). The Cowboys are 4-2 vs. Quality Teams, but with a -1.0 PPG differential thanks to their 21-point loss to New England in October and Week 17 27-6 travesty at Washington.
 
Advantage: Edge to Dallas
 
Relativity
This stat measures how well each team performed relative to the average performance of their opponents. Dallas was a touchdown better than the Giants, finishing at +8.6 PPG above average, compared with New York's +2.0 PPG differential.
 
Advantage: Edge to Dallas
 
Dallas's offense vs. New York's defense
The Giants' big strength is their No. 1 Defensive Hogs, and this crew dominated the trenches in their wild-card win over Tampa Bay. But the Cowboys' No. 6 Offensive Hogs should be better equipped to handle New York's  front than the Bucs were: the Cowboys allowed a grand total of four Negative Pass Plays in the two regular season meetings with the Giants. Dallas has a clear edge in the passing game (No. 2 Passing Yards Per Attempts vs. a New York unit thats's No. 17 Defensive Passer Rating), and in Scoreability (No. 4) vs. the Giants' Bendability (24th).
 
Advantage: Edge to Dallas.
 
New York's offense vs. Dallas' defense 
New York's strong Offensive Hogs (tied for 6th) will face a great match in the No. 7 Defensive Hogs from Dallas, and the Scoreability/Bendability matchup is a wash. But the Giants are at a big disadvantage in the passing game. They stand at 23rd in Passing Yards Per Attempt and are going against a team that ranks No. 5 in Defensive Passer Rating. 
 
Advantage: Edge to Dallas
 
Special teams
Neither team is good here, although Dallas is better. Cowbooys kicker Nick Folk and punter Mat McBriar are significantly stronger than New York's Lawrence Tynes and Jeff Feagles. However, the Giants' coverage and return units performed a bit better than Dallas' units.
 
Advantage: Slight edge to Dallas
 
Big Plays
The Cowboys are thought of as a Big Play team, but they were only 13th in Big Plays made and 8th in net Big Plays (+9). That's a fairly low number for such a good team. Still, they're on the right side of the ledger – unlike the Giants, who finished at -8 (tied for 23rd) on the Index.
 
Advantage: Edge to Dallas
 
Significant injuries
Dallas has the most-hyped injury of the playoffs, the high ankle sprain suffered by Terrell Owens that will probably limit his effectiveness Sunday. Other than Owens, the Cowboys are 100 percent, and are expected to get 2006 starter Terry Glenn back at WR.
 
However, the definite absence of Jeremy Shockey should prove to be a much bigger deal. Shockey had 17 catches in the two games against Dallas this year, and backup Kevin Boss (who missed practice with illness this week) is not Shockey. The Giants are also going to be without CB Sam Madison, and could be without C Shaun O'Hara again this week.
 
Advantage: Edge to Dallas
 
Weather
According to the Weather Channel, temps will be in the high 40s to low 50s, with a slight chance of rain and minimal wind. 
 
What does a monkey think? 
Our beloved Bonzo the Idiot Monkey was a prognosticating genius this regular season, using his patented coin-flip method to beat the experts from CBS Sports.com and finish at 146-109 overall. He went just 1-3 last week in the wild-card round, but remains confident, in an inscrutable simian kind of way.
Bonzo's coin likes ... New York (+7.5)
 
Summary
In terms of picking against the spread, this seems to be the easiest game of the four to figure. Dallas has the edge in every area, and already proved to be 10 points better than the Giants in the regular season. Twice.
 
And for the "it's tough to beat a team three times" crowd, it's really not – a piece on pro-football-reference.com points out that favorites are 9-3 in third meetings since the merger. The Cowboys are better than the Giants, healthier than the Giants, and playing at home.
 
The enthusiasm for New York (70 percent of the betting money as of mid-week) is a classic reaction to wild-card round success. But as the road teams' 27-percent winning percentage in the divisional round since the merger suggests, winning the first one rarely leads to winning the second one. 
 
The Giants are a trendy pick as this week's upset special. And Dallas certainly stumbled over the last few weeks. But all the actual evidence over the course of the season indicates another solid Cowboys victory.
 
The final score: Dallas 35, New York 21

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