October 14, 2005 Edition > Section: Sports > Printer-Friendly Version

Giant Reunion Awaits in Dallas
The Jets and Giants

BY SEAN LAHMAN
October 14, 2005
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/21549

The Meadowlands will be silent this weekend as both New York teams take to the road for tough games against division rivals. The Jets offense was brought back from the brink of destruction last week by the return of quarterback Vinny Testaverde, but Gang Green's struggles are far from over. Meanwhile, the Giants travel south to face a strong Cowboys team in a game that could have playoff implications down the road. Big Blue's offense has averaged a league-best 34 points per game, and they'll try to keep that momentum going after a bye week. Here's a closer look at Sunday's matchups.

GIANTS (3-1) AT COWBOYS (3-2)
(Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL Bill Parcells and the Cowboys manhandled the Eagles last week, holding them to just 129 total yards and pressuring Donovan McNabb all day long. Now Parcells will look to teach his old team a new lesson. Cornerbacks Terence Newman and Anthony Henry have been solid in pass coverage, and the Cowboys have registered 16 sacks in five games. Eli Manning has improved each week, but this will be the toughest defense he's faced this season.

The teams that have beaten the Cowboys stretched the field with their passing games - Oakland's Randy Moss burned them for 123 yards and Washington's Santana Moss racked up 159.The Giants will force the Cowboys to account for Tiki Barber between the tackles, then use the play-action pass to freeze defenders.

WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL A resurgent Drew Bledsoe has been getting plenty of time to throw, and he has a pair of veteran receivers to get the ball to. Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn must be licking their chops at the thought of facing the depleted Giants secondary. Cornerback William Peterson is out with a back injury, and Will Allen has been struggling so much that he's in danger of losing his job. That leaves rookie Corey Webster and second-year man Curtis Deloatch to contain Dallas's aerial attack. If the front seven can slow down running back Julius Jones, the Giants may be able to keep Bledsoe and company in check.

KEY TO THE GAME Manning is 0-4 in road games, and Texas Stadium is a pretty hostile environment. If there's one thing the kid has shown so far this year, though, it's that he's unflappable. His poise and ability to control the offense will be put to the test against a defense that ranks fourth in sacks and has a knack for harassing opposing quarterbacks.

Lahman's Pick: Dallas 27-20

JETS (2-3) AT BILLS (2-3)
(Sunday, 4:15 p.m., FOX)

WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL Vinny Testaverde has galvanized the offense, but an abundance of problems remain. The biggest is that Curtis Martin has struggled to just 57 yards per game. If he's ever going to get back on track, it should be this week; The Bills rank 31st in run defense.

Testaverde's 163 yards were enough to beat the injury-ravaged Bucs, but Gang Green will need more against the Bills. The Jets have their best receiving corps in years, and if they can get a little balance back in their offense, Testaverde can put points on the board. Buffalo's Nate Clements is a shutdown cornerback, but Terrence McGee is not, and he'll have trouble covering Justin McCareins. Look for the Jets to exploit that mismatch, or even get McGee matched up with Laveranues Coles and throw the ball deep.

WHEN THE BILLS HAVE THE BALL The Bills are having their own quarterback problems. Like Testaverde, new starter Kelly Holcomb gave his team a win last week despite lackluster numbers, but he had the running game to thank. The dangerous Willis McGahee has averaged over 90 yards per game despite frequently facing eight men in the box. Gang Green is allowing more than 120 rushing yards per game, so the Bills will run the ball until the Jets prove that they can stop them.

KEY TO THE GAME The Jets desperately need a big game from Martin. There are no other options. The offense won't be able to score points consistently without a viable running attack, no matter how well Testaverde plays. If Martin can't post big numbers against what may be the league's worst run defense, it may be time for the Jets to find another starter. If they can force Buffalo to commit defenders to stopping the run, it will create opportunities for Testaverde to make big plays down the field.

Lahman's Pick: Jets 24-10

October 14, 2005 Edition > Section: Sports > Printer-Friendly Version