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Cowboys news: Ezekiel Elliott vs. Saquon Barkley is big-time, Jerry Jones still believes in Dak

Can the Cowboys offense get back on track? Is Dak Prescott still the guy to make it happen? Which running back will have the biggest game? These stories and more in the latest addition of Cowboys news.

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NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Game Day Sunday is here! Now, we’ve just got to find something to occupy us until Sunday night rolls around. Maybe knock off a few items from your honey-do list? Stock up on some cold beverages? And it’s not too late to save a bunch of money on your car insurance by switching to Geico. Well, whatever you do with your time, just remember - this is coming...

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys Prediction and Preview - Tom Bowles, Athlon Sports
All eyes will be on the two star running backs, but which one will have a bigger game? Athlon Sports gives the nod to the rookie.

2. Ezekiel Elliott vs. Saquon Barkley

The edge may go to Barkley on this one simply because of the Cowboys’ run defense. They allowed 147 yards on the ground to Carolina last week who doesn’t exactly have an intimidating run game. (Quarterback Cam Newton led the team with 58 yards.) The Giants, meanwhile, have held Elliott in check before, limiting him to 51 yards in a game his rookie season and have a lot of in-game experience. Sometimes, a new guy like Barkley can throw off a defense similar to a first-time major league pitcher.

With Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley living in the spotlight, are the Cowboys and Giants living in the past? Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
The Cowboys and Giants have both made some pretty hefty draft investments in their running backs, but are they doing it all wrong? Cowlishaw weighs in.

These teams are still trying to win championships while focused on feature backs. It's an old school mentality and who can say it won't work, but it comes at a time where the Eagles, Patriots and Broncos have won the last four Super Bowls without really caring much about who was running the ball as long as their passing game was going full speed.

That's why as much as the Giants and Cowboys would love for Barkley or Elliott to capture the headlines off Sunday night's game, it's still all about Eli and Dak. That's today's game.

Of course, all people have been talking about this week is stop the run, stop the run... it seems like the running game might be kind of important. Pay close attention to this matchup of the big run-maker vs. the big run-stopper.

Landon Collins has already said the Giants will focus on stopping Zeke and challenge Dak Prescott to beat them. Dak has accepted the challenge, but is he up to the task?

Jerry Jones still believes in Dak Prescott, says he's 'one of the strengths of our team' - Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones isn't blinking when it comes to the faith he has in his young quarterback.

"I have tremendous confidence in Dak," Jones said Friday on 105.3 The Fan, per the New York Post. "I feel so good about Sunday. I feel good about our future. I don't want to be trite, but teams have lost games and have had bad games with the best quarterbacks there's ever been ... You can have an outing that you'd like to have back, but man alive, one of the strengths of our team going in against the Giants or one of the strengths of our team as far as I can see into the future is Dak Prescott."

Here are 14 quarterbacks better than Cowboys' Dak Prescott as of right now - Matt Mosley, SportsDay
Coming off a bad season debut, the Prescott stock has dropped and many are just foaming at the mouth to tell you all the quarterbacks in the league that are better. Mosley gives us his list.

Question: Could you name 16 quarterbacks that you'd rather be quarterbacking the cowboys this year than Dak Prescott? If so, is he still a franchise QB?

Mosley: I have been driving the Dak Prescott bandwagon from the very early days. Ed Werder has been a capable assistant pilot in this endeavor. I don't really love the thought of trying to choose 16 QBs I'd rather have right now than Dak, but here goes nothing. And remember, I'm just thinking about for this one season. I'd obviously take Drew Brees over him, but Drew will only play for another season or two. And this is in no particular order. Here are the QBs I would take over Dak for the rest of the 2018 season:

Case Keenum, Pat Mahomes, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Brees, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Carson Wentz.

The names may be different, but that’s right where Marcus Mosher has Dak as well.

I don’t see Eli Manning making anyone’s list so I guess they’re legit.

Cowboys’ Stephen Jones clarifies comments on Troy Aikman as a ‘misuse of words’ - Staff, SportsDay
Former Cowboys quarterback and FOX analyst Troy Aikman was critical of the Cowboys offense against the Panthers last Sunday by saying, “I’m not seeing any creativity.” Executive VP Stephen Jones responded to the criticism saying, “Anyone can play armchair quarterback.” Jones would later clarify his comments about the armchair Hall of Fame quarterback that helped his team win three Super Bowls in the ‘90s.

”My whole point is anytime you lose a game like that is you have people who are going to voice their opinions and they’re going to be critical and that’s to be expected. I think that’s the job that we’re in and as an organization, we’re always going to be critiqued, as a football team we’re going to be critiqued, our coaches and players are going to be critiqued and we understand that.

Jones would then come back to a different word - instead of “creativity,” he used the better choice of “execution,” or lack thereof.

“I’ll finish up by saying we have to be better if we’re gonna get to where we want to get and offensively, we’re going to have to execute better. I think everybody at the end of the day understands that. Whether it’s the play caller, whether it’s the coaching staff, whether it’s the general manager, the ownership, everybody played a role in that loss. We just have to move forward, have to do things better and when that happens, we’ll win football games. The critics will be better when you win football games.”

Five things we’re looking for in Cowboys-Giants - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
The Cowboys offense needs to do a 180 from what we saw last week and that means being quick out of the gate.

A faster start

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he couldn’t remember the last time the Cowboys began so many drives with first- or second-and-long. It puts the offense in a dangerous situation. Linehan said it’s no fun to call a game this way or even play a game this way. Getting off to a fast start doesn’t mean up-tempo offense, such as the hurry-up the Cowboys employed in the second half last week. If the Cowboys get positive yardage on first and second downs, making third down manageable, then Linehan can probably make better play calls. He wouldn’t put a number on how many plays in his gameplan were eliminated because his team was in third-and-long situations. If the Cowboys can get some productive drives in the first two possessions, things will look good for them. Penalties, especially early in the game, can sap an offense’s confidence. If the Cowboys eliminate some early penalties and get some positive yards, things will be okay. Or so we think.

Jason Witten: Cowboys passing struggles, Jones influence on retiring - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
BTB Alum K.D. Drummond had the distinct privilege in speaking with future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten. The two discussed the Cowboys struggles on offense and what the team was missing.

K.D: It feels like Prescott has been seeing pass-rush ghosts ever since the Atlanta game. The offense hasn’t righted the ship since Elliott and Tyron Smith were out. Now you don’t want to draw any season-long conclusions off of one game, but put your analysts hat on for me. What do you see is the reason for the Cowboys’ recent struggles in the passing game.

Witten: Like you said it’s one game, so you don’t want to overreact. I think Coach Garrett’s got a good perspective on that. Looking at it, I think the positive is that the defense showed some really good signs. The young secondary made some plays. Cam Newton’s a former MVP, holding them to 16 points. I think more than anything else, offensively they want to run the football. The strength of that offensive line, probably the best offensive line in football but it were without Travis Frederick.

Behind Enemy Lines: 5 questions with Giants Wire ahead of Week 2 fight - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Speaking of explosive plays, the Cowboys defense will need to keep the Giants new playmaking running back from running wild.

Cowboys Wire: Saquon Barkley was bottled up for most of the game against the Jaguars except for one big explosive run. Is this what should be expected from him for the most part while New York pieces the offensive line back together?

Giants Wire: Barkley did have the one huge run that padded his statistics, but there were a few other 10-yard runs in the mix as well. It’s also important to note that Barkley led all NFL running backs with a breakaway percentage of 64.2 percent in Week 1, which is indicative of the type of player he is.

Just like at Penn State, Barkley is a quality all-around back that exposes weaknesses of the defense through the air and on the ground. Of course, the Giants have a real issue along their offensive line, which led to Barkley routinely being hit behind the line of scrimmage.

Still, he’s a constant threat to break a big run and change the complexion of the game.

Cowboys cling to overnight hope 'doubtful' Gregory plays vs. NY - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
While Randy Gregory is listed as doubtful, the team hasn't abandoned the idea of him being available on Sunday night.

According to one study, being listed as "doubtful'' in 2016 meant the player didn't participate 99.5 percent of the time. In 2017, it was 97.6 percent of the time. You can therefore understand why Dallas is therefore prepared to start Taco Charlton at the end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, with rookie Dorance Armstrong ready to be in the rotation.

But as of Saturday night, I'm told, the team isn't yet shutting down the possibility of a late recovery for Gregory when the two 0-1 NFC East rivals take the field at AT&T Stadium.

Gregory played 15 snaps at Carolina while coming off the bench. He sustained a left knee injury early in the 16-8 but played through it before sustaining the concussion. The effort marked his first NFL game since the end of the 2016 regular season due to a suspension because of multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy. Solving the question about his availability will impact more than just coordinator Rod Marinelli's defensive line (which, led by "dog'' DeMarcus Lawrence, seems to be salivating at Sunday's opportunities); Dallas also has to figure out its inactives, in part based on whether Gregory is going to need to be among them. Colleague Bryan Broaddus, in writing on DallasCowboys.com about this week's inactives, notes that he believes "this will be the week that we see Rico Gathers active. Rookie Dalton Schultz got the call last week but will probably be sitting against the Giants.'' That's a big enough story all by itself. Gregory figures to be even bigger.

In case you missed it...

Cowboys vs. Giants: Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr. present unique challenges for Dallas defense - Cole Patterson, Blogging The Boys
While Saquon Barkley will be the new focus for the Cowboys defense, they can't lose sight of the other offensive playmakers the Giants have. Cole Patterson explains.

Elsewhere on the offensive side of the ball, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram are waiting to make secondaries look foolish as the trio is among the best at getting open and making their opposition pay. We all know what OBJ can do. The former LSU Tigers star is among the best at his position across the league and has made quite a few plays against the Cowboys, averaging five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in his meetings versus America’s Team. After missing both meetings last season, he will be surely be hungry to make a statement on Sunday Night Football. Shepard, meanwhile, isn’t so bad himself. The Oklahoma Sooners product has totaled 15 catches, 142 yards, and a touchdown in four games versus the Cowboys in his young career.

Engram is a unique talent at the tight end position. The 2017 first-rounder is almost a wide receiver playing tight end as he glides down the field. Engram recorded 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns while averaging over 11 yards per reception during his debut season in the NFL. The Jags gave up two catches for 18 yards on five targets in week one.

Fantasy Football rankings 2018: Your “Magnificent 7” for each position in week 2 - Blogging The Boys
Need some last minute fantasy advice? Make sure you're starting any players that fall on Sisemore's "Magnificent 7" list, including a surprise team for defense.

Hmm, let’s see...Eli Manning getting sacked five times, a pick-six, and a Tavon Austin punt returned for a touchdown. How’s that for racking up some fantasy points from the Cowboys defense?

Cowboys facing doomsday scenario no one imagined - Greg Joyce, NY Post
Nobody wants to start the season 0-2 and for Cowboys fans, this feels like a must-win game. Of course, don't tell that to head coach Jason Garrett as it's just business as usual for him.

“Hopefully we have the kind of urgency that allows you to win every week, in everything that we do as coaches, as players in the approach we take in our meetings, in our walkthroughs and practice every day,” Garrett said. “That’s certainly something that’s very important for us that we try to instill in our team, that sense of urgency.”

If the Cowboys start 0-2, optimistic fans will remind people that the Cowboys won a Super Bowl in the '90s after a bad start. Of course, the last time the team started off losing the first two games, the head coach got fired that year.

The Cowboys haven’t started 0-2 since 2010, the last year Wade Phillips was the head coach. He was fired after eight games (they were 1-7) and replaced by Garrett, who had been the team’s offensive coordinator, and he righted the ship to end the season 6-10.

Super Bowl win or Garrett gets fired? For a lot of fans, that sounds like a win-win.

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