Three keys for the Giants to come out with a "W" on Sunday:
With all that has transpired the past 10 days, emotions have been running high and will culminate with the Giants taking the field on Sunday against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
Part of Steve Spagnuolo's new job as interim head coach is to channel those emotions into a win. In his first team meeting, the defensive coordinator laid it all out to the players and staff.
"One of the main focuses was asking the guys that when they come into the building, when they come to work, come to work expecting to win," he said. "That's how they should function. Forget about what has happened prior. Let's just go forward coming in the building ready to work every day and expecting to win."
Here are three ways the Giants can do that:
FORCE DALLAS INTO THIRD-AND-LONG
The Cowboys don't hide it. They want to control the clock with or without Ezekiel Elliott. So how do they do it? They convert 44.4 percent of their third downs, the fifth-best rate in the NFL. But they really win long before that. Dallas has an average of 7.29 yards to go on second down, the second-shortest length in the league behind New Orleans. That is a result of averaging 5.07 yards per run on first down.
When Dallas is forced into third-and-long (more than six yards to go), they fall to 27th with a 20.3 conversion rate. The Giants need to bottle up the run game early on, including the containment of Dak Prescott. The second-year quarterback is 14-4 as a starter when he runs for more than 15 yards, and 5-6 when he does not reach that threshold, including postseason. The Cowboys are also 9-2 when he runs for a touchdown.
GET THE DUKE
The .500 Cowboys are 5-0 when they don't turn the ball over and 1-6 otherwise. Taking away the ball in this game is just as important as protecting it. The Giants turned the corner in the third quarter of the season, recording five of their eight interceptions in the last four games. They'll try to extend that into the home stretch with a defensive-minded interim coach. Three of the final four games are at home against NFC East rivals.
PROTECT NO. 10
Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (13.5) leads the league in sacks, and he began his prolific campaign with 1.5 in the season opener against the Giants before racking up 2.0 in Week 2 and 3.0 in Week 3. The Giants, playing with a battered offensive line, have given up seven of their 29 sacks in the last two games. Three were last week on Geno Smith, who lost two fumbles in the process. But it doesn't matter who is under center when it comes to protection. The Giants need to keep the quarterback upright, and in this week's case, that will be Eli Manning.
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