The Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants in Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
PFFELO Ranking: 13
Coverage by: Aaron Jones
Matchup: Dallas Cowboys offense vs. New York Giants defense
- G Zack Martin vs. Dl Dalvin Tomlinson – The second-highest graded guard in the league (89.3 overall grade) matches up against promising rookie Dalvin Tomlinson. In a season where poor offensive line play has marred the Cowboys, Martin has continued to perform at an elite level. He’s allowed only 10 pressures on 393 pass-block snaps, giving him a pass-blocking efficiency (measures pressure allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed) of 98.0, tied for second-best among 75 qualifying guards. Tomlinson is quickly becoming one of the better run-stuffing interior defenders in the league, currently ranking 16th among 126 qualifying interior defenders with a run-defense grade of 86.3. His 19 run stops are the most among rookie interior defenders.
- C Travis Frederick vs. Dl Damon Harrison – Travis Frederick is currently tied with Alex Mack for the second-highest grade among all centers (88.8 overall grade) and has yet to allow a sack on 417 pass-block snaps. Frederick will have one of his toughest matchups this season, however, as Damon Harrison currently ranks third among 117 qualifying interior defenders with an overall grade of 91.5. His run-defense grade of 95.3 is the highest among all interior defenders, primarily due to his league-best 29 run stops. Both Martin’s and Frederick’s matchups will be key to helping the Cowboys establish the run.
- WR Cole Beasley vs. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Beasley currently ranks 63rd among wide receivers with an overall grade of 70.9. His 0.81 yards per route run from the slot sits at 45th among 59 wide receivers who have run at least 89 routes from the slot. Even with Janoris Jenkins sitting on injured reserve, expect for Beasley to still see plenty of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot. On 177 snaps in slot coverage this season, Rodgers-Cromartie allows a reception every 11.8 snaps, which is good enough for 10th-best among the 50 defensive backs who have logged 80-plus snaps in slot coverage.
PFFELO Ranking: 31
Coverage by: Aaron Jones
Matchup: New York Giants offense vs. Dallas Cowboys defense
- TE Evan Engram vs. LB Jaylon Smith – The second-most targeted tight end in the league (87 targets) draws a matchup against a fellow “rookie.” Engram had arguably his best game of the year, making one-handed catches that would even impress Odell Beckham Jr. He finished with a game grade of 89.9, the third-highest among tight ends last week. After essentially redshirting his first season in the league, Smith has shown some flashes of why the Cowboys drafted him. While he has struggled this season (overall grade of 59.4, ranked 50th among 86 qualifying linebackers), his strongest asset has been his coverage skills, where he currently ranks 17th among 79 qualifying linebackers with a coverage grade of 78.5.
- T Chad Wheeler vs. Edge DeMarcus Lawrence – Chad Wheeler has had a rough few weeks. Since Week 11, he has allowed 15 total pressures, tied for the most among all offensive tackles in that span. His pass-blocking efficiency of 87.1 is the second-lowest among 76 qualifying tackles. Wheeler’s struggles last week against Khalil Mack are well documented, and now he gets to face the eighth-highest graded edge defender (overall grade of 90.8) in the league in DeMarcus Lawrence. Boasting a pass-rush productivity of 14.0, Lawrence ranks sixth among 107 qualifying edge defenders. This could easily be the most important matchup for the Giants when on offense.
- WR Sterling Shepard vs. Cowboys secondary – Sterling Shepard is the highest-graded wide receiver for the Giants, by far. His overall grade of 79.7 (ranked 25th among 116 qualifying wide receivers) is a whopping 29.7 points higher than the next highest-graded Giants receiver, Roger Lewis (overall grade of 50.0). He’s producing a quarterback rating of 108.6 when targeted, the 18th-highest mark among 88 qualifying wide receivers. Depending on where Shepard lines up will obviously dictate his matchup, as he could see Xavier Woods (overall grade of 73.8, ranked 65th among 115 qualifying cornerbacks) when lined up in the slot, and any combination of Orlando Scandrick (overall grade of 41.5. ranked 108th) and rookie Chidobe Awuzie (overall grade of 78.9, not enough snaps to qualify for rank) when outside.