Sunday NFL Picks: Cowboys vs. Giants

Doug Upstone

Saturday, November 23, 2013 8:00 PM GMT

There is unique quality about any NFC East encounter; it always seems every game matters. This season, the division is down but with the way New York has been playing, it has become increasingly competitive. Yet, because of the inferiority of the teams, making NFL picks is burdensome when scrutinizing the betting odds. Let’s delve to understand more.

Check out SBRs NFL Week 12 Betting Odds Report

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Must Win for Both Teams

If is difficult to call any NFL contest a ‘must win” with better than a quarter off the season to play AFTER this week, but examining what the implications are with a loss would mean for either team, the term can certainly qualify.

Dallas is 5-5 and a victory places them in a first place tie with Philadelphia, which is a positive. However, a loss makes them 5-6 and they would be tied for second place in the division with New York. Their upcoming schedule while not overbearing, will be testy.

The Cowboys should handle Oakland on Thanksgiving, but when Green Bay comes to Arlington, Aaron Rodgers is presumed back. Road games at Chicago and Washington are iffy wins at best before the final showdown with Philadelphia. A victory in New Jersey makes everything more palatable.

With a 0-6 start, New York was already battling the NFL odds to make the playoffs. But these are Tom Coughlin’s Giants and their M.O. is like a faucet, they are either running hot or cold.

With a home win on Sunday, the G-Men move to 5-6 and can really start to buy into the belief they can make the postseason in unprecedented fashion, trailing the Eagles by one game.

However, a defeat is a major setback, because the way the NFL is shaping up, the No. 6 seed for the wild card will need at least a 9-7 record and this would require Big Blue to finish 5-0.

The Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Tony Romo and Eli Manning have been the starting quarterbacks for their respective teams for years. If you study their career numbers, Romo would seemingly be the choice if you needed to win one game because his overall figures are better in an awful lot of categories.

Yet, there is a word which no number can be attached to – clutch. Manning has two Super Bowl rings and when the moment has been right, he’s come through in sensational fashion, with Romo mostly making one key mistake when it has mattered most.

To date, Romo has had the superior season. Manning has been clearly affected by the feckless play of his offensive line in the first part of the season and while playing better, he’s still not been close to past years in terms of being accurate and limiting mistakes.

Dallas has five losses, yet Romo has 12-1 touchdown/interception ratio in those contests. Nevertheless, everyone making sports picks knows it was the fatal pick against Denver, which sealed the Cowboys fate that day.

Which quarterback comes through in the clutch will be your likely winner by Sunday night.

NFL Betting Odds and Matchup Numbers

At the majority of sportsbooks, New York has been teetering back and forth from -2.5 to -3. The Giants dropped the early confrontation 36-31 at Jerry’s house and are just 1-2 in division matchups. The favorite at MetLife Stadium is just 1-3 of late and the home team is 2-5 ATS in the past seven tussles

With Dallas 32nd in total defense, the total has been bumped a point to 46.5, though Big Blue is 9-2 UNDER after one or more consecutive wins since last season.

What to Watch For

Dallas set a franchise record a year ago for the fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season. After an off-season talking about recommitting to the run, the Cowboys are on a pace to go below last year’s abysmal figure. Dallas averages the second-fewest rushing attempts in the NFL at 19.9 and they need to be more patient and move to towards the mid-20’s to take all the pressure off Romo to complete passes.

The Cowboys defense is dead last in total defense and after changing defensive coordinators again, you start to wonder is it the coaches or the wrong mix of players who are incapable of handling different assignments. Coming off a bye week, NFL football handicappers and everyone else can start looking for answers.

Dallas is 29th against the run, which should provide New York a great opportunity to get the rushing offense going with Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs. Expect the Giants to devise a strategy to help clear out the middle of the field for the short and intermediate passes that consists of drawing linebackers to the flats. Manning was 15 of 16 last week according to Pro Football Focus with this design.

The Giants defense has kept improving and it’s no secret it revolves around the front four winning the battle in the trenches.

Final Outcome

New York has been more consistent, but I have a suspicion Dallas comes ready to play and win this game outright for our NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Dallas +3