Perhaps reports of Eli Manning’s demise were greatly exaggerated, given his return as the New York Giants starting quarterback after a one-week demotion.
Of course, head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired in the days since Manning’s demotion, so it’s not exactly business as usual for Big Blue. Nonetheless, the 2-10 Giants’ quest to salvage the remaining four games of the season goes on with the longtime quarterback in the driver’s seat once again.
Here’s a look at three keys to Sunday’s matchup against the rival Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants’ all-time leading quarterback is under center again. While benching him in the first place was a clear downgrade in the short term, it’s not as if Manning was playing lights out of late. Twice this season, he failed to complete at least half of his passes, something he had done just once since McAdoo and came on as offensive coordinator in 2014.
Dallas ranks 29th in opponents’ completion percentage, so at least Manning has a soft defense in front of him for his grand return.
No Eze button
The Cowboys’ annual visit to the metropolitan area comes without Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the NFL in rushing yards per game since his pro debut last year. He remains suspended stemming from domestic violence allegations from last July.
In four games without Elliott, the Cowboys are 1-3 with a minus-3 turnover margin. Look for Giants interim coach Steve Spagnuolo to let loose Landon Collins and provoke mistakes.
Manning’s QB counterpart in Dallas, Dak Prescott, has not been the same without his running back. He has more interceptions and has absorbed more sacks in the last four games than he had in the first eight contests of the season.
But quarterback pressure has not been a hallmark of these Giants, whose 21 sacks are tied for 27th in the league. The Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line is dealing with several injuries, and the front four of the G-Men must take advantage by making Prescott sweat.