Focal point: Tiki Barber vs. Cowboys D

Our experts debate the matchup between Tiki Barber and the Cowboys front seven.

Updated: October 7, 2004, 3:15 PM ET
ESPN.com

The Matchup:

Tiki Barber vs. Cowboys D

The Game:

Giants at Cowboys, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

The Question:

Who will get the best of this matchup? Click here to vote!

Tiki Barber vs. Cowboys front seven
Tiki Barber By Sean Salisbury

Tiki Barber has a propensity for the big run and that's going to be key against the Cowboys on Sunday in Dallas. If he was the type of running back who ground out 100-yard games on 25 four-yard carries, then I would say that he might have a hard time doing that against the Cowboys. The Cowboy's defense is good enough to key in on a back like that and stop him from getting his four yards per carry. But Barber is a big-play back who can break a 50-yard run off (Barber has two runs of over 50 yards already this season) at any moment and that's where he is going to hurt the Cowboys defense.

The Cowboys defense isn't as good as last year's yet (No. 19 overall and No. 20 against the run so far this season vs. No. 1 overall last season and No. 3 against the run in 2003) and that's in the Giants' favor. Barber is becoming a great running back because he's not fumbling the ball anymore. That's what the Giants need to win Sunday's matchup with the Cowboys.

Cowboys By Ron Jaworski

The Giants are doing a very good job maintaining offensive balance. Kurt Warner is playing very well, Tiki Barber is looking superb and Jeremy Shockey is playing great football. Obviously Warner's strong play has been a surprise because a lot of people wrote him off and expected rookie Eli Manning to be starting by now. But the real surprise at the quarter mark of the season has been the play of the Giants' offensive line. They've played very good football and are a primary reason why Barber has played so well.

The Cowboys' front seven definitely has its work cut out for it as they get ready to face this impressive o-line. But I feel they can get the best of the matchup and stop Barber from getting his 100-yards by getting penetration from the front four. They can't afford to blitz because Warner is smart and will take advantage of single coverage with his receivers and Shockey. That said the Cowboys must get backfield penetration to be successful and they need to do that with the defensive ends and tackles. Barber is the type of back who is able to hit the hole and break a big run at any time so the defense has to make him run east-west as much as possible. If they're able to do that then they should win this battle in the trenches.

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