Much has to do with Murray's health but a great deal of credit for their success in the run game is going to the offensive line, currently considered the league's best. The Cowboys are averaging 160.1 YPG on the ground, tops in the NFL and are third in time of possession (33:51 minutes per game) and first in third-down conversion percentage and first downs per game.
The Cowboys have been gradually building their offensive line over the past few seasons. The group of LT Tyron Smith, LG Ronald Leary, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin and RT Doug Free have become the talk of the NFL.
Smith (2011) Frederick (2013) and Martin are all first-round selections in the NFL Draft. They are all studs.
The other day, Smith was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Seattle in Week 6 and is the first offensive lineman in 10 years to receive the award. Only 23, Smith represented Dallas in the Pro Bowl last season and is certain to receive consideration again this year.
The Cowboys were lambasted two years ago by the media and pundits for trading down from 18th overall in the first round to 31st with San Francisco and selecting Frederick, an underclassman from Wisconsin. All Frederick, 23, has done is start from day one in a Cowboy uniform - 22 games and counting.
Also in that trade, Dallas received a third-round pick from the 49ers: WR Terrance Williams, who is averaging 17.8 YPC this season with 5 TDs.
In April, may were surprised when the Giants passed on Martin at No. 12 to select Odell Beckham, Jr. Martin slid down to No. 16 and selected by Dallas, where was penciled right into the starting lineup. Giant fans like what they see from Beckham, but in light of the offensive line woes the club has experienced the past few seasons, Martin was - and still is - the player the Giants should have taken.
The passover may turn out to be a painful one for the Giants. They will have to face Martin twice a year beginning this week until, well, whenever. Many outlets are projecting Martin as a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, an honor that has never been bestowed upon an a lineman in the 47-year history of the award.
Free, 30, was fourth-round pick in 2007 that has had an up-and-down career with Dallas, but is now an eight-year veteran who is again playing at a high-level. Leary, 25, went undrafted out of Memphis in 2012 due to a chronic knee ailment and was signed to the Cowboys' practiced squad. He started all 16 games last season and all six games this season.
The Giants' defense has played well for the most part, but were exposed last week in Philadelphia. Their ranking vs the run fell from 10th to 18th as they could not contain the Eagles' duo of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. This week, they face a red hot Murray, a player who has had some major success vs New York.
In his four games against the Giants, Murray has gained 328 yards on 59 carries (5.6 YPC) along with 14 receptions for 94 yards.
In the passing game, QB Tony Romo has always been a challenge for the Giants, even when their pass rush was going great guns. He has elusiveness in the pocket to extend plays and has a knack for finding the open receiver on broken plays.
Romo is 7-6 as a starter vs the Giants and is completing 301-of-453 passes (66.4%) for 3,502 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Has five 300-yard games, three four-touchdown games and a 400-yard game.
Over his career, Romo gets sacked around twice per game on the average and has been sacked 10 times in six games this season, so the line is just as susceptible vs the pass as they've been in years past. The only difference this season is that the Cowboys are a much more balanced offense. Last season, Romo threw on 65% of Dallas' offensive plays. This year, they pass/rush ratio is 50%. He is not as exposed as he once was.
The Giants pass rush is average at best (11 sacks, 18th in NFL). The top QBs are able to navigate around it and Romo is certainly a top QB. The edge rush is just not there any longer. Starting DEs Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka have only three sacks between them. The team leader is actually DT Jon Hankins (2.5 sacks) and he plays on only 50% of the defensive snaps. The Giants actually get more pressure with their backup DEs, Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore.
It will be an uphill battle for the Giants to win the trench battle this Sunday. If they are to make a stand this week, it will have to begin by going hat on hat with these Dallas linemen.