A lot of time will be spent discussing how this week’s game against the Giants is exactly 364 days since Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome injury against this same team, in this same stadium, but aside from perhaps a few emotional moments during pre-game, Prescott and the Cowboys are much more focused on securing their fourth consecutive win.
The 3-1 Cowboys are the odds-on favorite to win the NFC East, and after a beatdown of the undefeated Panthers last week they’re generating debate about potentially being the best team in the NFC. Now they’re facing a 1-3 Giants team that just finally won their first game of the year. Under their last two head coaches (one of which will be on the field Sunday), this is a type of trap game that Dallas fell into all too easily. Are things different under Mike McCarthy? Let’s find out what our writers think.
When New York has the ball
Remind Daniel Jones of who he is
A former first-round quarterback in New York who struggled early in his career due to turnovers is now having a solid and clean beginning to his 2021 season as he faces off against a Dallas defense known for taking the ball away. Am I talking about Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones? The answer is yes.
Darnold ran head first into the buzzsaw known as Trevon Diggs, and Jones - who has at least ten interceptions and ten fumbles in each of his first two seasons - could be next. His only interception on the year came on a Hail Mary heave, although he has three fumbles already. More than that, Jones is holding onto the ball an average 2.76 seconds and only Bears rookie Justin Fields has thrown into tight windows at a higher rate than the Giants quarterback.
To add to that, New York is dealing with some significant injuries on offense. Wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both missed last week’s game and have been ruled out for this week, while left tackle Andrew Thomas has been observed limping with a foot injury and is officially listed as questionable. Those injuries, combined with Jones’ risky play, could be a recipe for disaster on Sunday that pushes him back into his worst habits.
When Dallas has the ball
Attack these linebackers
Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is a special one, but he’s working with a talent deficiency right now. Only the winless Lions have a lower pass rush win rate, and New York’s run defense has struggled since linebacker Blake Martinez tore his ACL. Graham’s response has been to use lighter boxes when possible to conceal his weak linebacker depth, utilizing hybrid safety Jabrill Peppers as much as possible.
Well, Peppers is another player who will miss this game with an injury. That leaves linebackers Tae Crowder and Reggie Ragland as Graham’s best options in the second level. Ragland has become a frequent target in the passing game since being pushed into action, while Crowder is allowing a team high 142.3 passer rating when targeted. These linebackers are a big weakness that the Cowboys can exploit with either their red-hot running game or Prescott’s lethal play action skills. Expect Kellen Moore’s game plan to be largely focused on taking advantage of this weakness.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Just call me Tommy on the spot: This is a game that feels very much like the Cowboys just needing to take care of business. While Daniel Jones may be growing into a legitimate NFL starter, I still will take Dak as a real advantage for Dallas.
I’ll also take the Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard tag team over Saquon Barkley, especially with how the Dallas O line is blocking. The defense has warts, but when they are not letting a big play happen, they are getting to the quarterback or Trevon Diggs is stealing balls and souls.
Give me Cowboys winning 38-24.
The Cowboys are once again facing off against the New York Giants and former head coach Jason Garrett. Quarterback Dak Prescott is also facing another demon in his comeback going against the team that he broke his ankle against which you know has to be in the back of his mind. On paper, the Cowboys should be able to handle the Giants thanks to their high-powered offense and an opportunistic defense that has been harassing teams the past few weeks.
But this is a divisional game and the Giants will present a few problems for the Cowboys this week. On defense, they will have to try and contain Saquon Barkley along with their two tight ends in Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph who we should assume will attack the Cowboys linebacking corps that has had problems in coverage. The Giants defense is also built to combat the Cowboys passing offense so look for the Cowboys to counter with another heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard this week. In the end I have the Cowboys winning this game but it won’t be a blowout like many assume.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 24.
I think we are going to see this Giants game play out a lot like the Panthers one did last week. Daniel Jones is playing well enough that he’ll be able to keep the Giants in the game for the first half, but I think the Cowboys will once again come out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter and put the game away.
Dallas should have no problem running the ball at will against this Giants defense, and New York just does not have enough talent in their backend to slow down all the Cowboys’ offensive weapons. I see Randy Gregory getting a big strip-sack that changes the course of this game, and the duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard being the stars of the day.
Give me the Cowboys, 30-20.
Although Saquon Barkley is starting to round into form, the Giants remain thin in the playmaker department if Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton aren’t available. Daniel Jones, meanwhile, undoubtedly brings an element of dynamism to the table and is off to a strong start in 2021. He’s also a turnover waiting to happen and heading into a matchup with a defense that has forced the second most in the league at the near-quarter mark of the season.
The Giants defense, for whatever reason, still does not seem to respect the Cowboys offense or Dak Prescott individually, referring to a “dink and dunk” tendency that’s long been played out. While you can never assume anything in a division game regardless of how much better one team is than the other, this feels like a statement moment for the Cowboys. Dak was injured against the Giants one year ago in this same stadium. Dallas isn’t losing this game.
As such, give me Dallas, 34-20.
In a divisional game, anything can happen and thus, there is a world where the Giants pull of the upset. But there is no indication that will be the case. The Cowboys’ offense ranks top five in nearly every significant metric used to measure offensive success, while on the other side of the ball, the Giants defense is unimpressive. Kellen Moore will get to choose how he carves up the New York defense, and if the Cowboys put up less than 30 points, the Giants should be proud.
It gets a little more interesting with the Giants offense. Surprisingly enough, Daniel Jones appears significantly improved from last season and seems to have fixed his turnover problem. However, while Saquon is capable of ripping off the occasional 40 yard run, he does not seem to be fully recovered from last season’s injury. The Cowboys should be able to limit the ground game, and in a matchup between Daniel Jones against Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, I will take the latter. Dallas keeps the momentum rolling through week five in another game that is practically over before the fourth quarter starts.
Dallas Cowboys 35, New York Giants 20.
On paper this is a game the Cowboys should win. The Cowboys are the better team and historically Dak Prescott plays well against this Giants team. However, this is a division game and I always feel like that division games are closer in nature than they should be. Ultimately the Cowboys will get it done. This offense is too dynamic and they will be able to score enough points to get the job done, even if it takes them a quarter or so to get rolling.
This defense will stay opportunistic, and although I think teams are done trying Trevon Diggs which subsequently will end his interception streak, I see another cornerback on the roster, maybe Jourdan Lewis, getting an interception. This game will be tight early on but much like last week the Cowboys will pull away in the second half as they continue their winning streak to four games.
Dallas Cowboys 28 New York Giants 17.
Once getting the lead the last two weeks the Dallas Cowboys have kind of coasted the latter part of games on their way to victory. This Week 5 matchup with the division rival New York Giants isn’t a game to keep that practice alive. Despite what their record suggests, the Giants always play the Cowboys tough.
There’s no need for the outcome of this game to be decided by who has the ball last. To keep that from happening, Dallas needs to get out to an early lead and keep their foot on the throttle until the final seconds tick off the clock. With their “pick your poison” offense and a red-hot defense, this is a game they should easily win if they take care of business.
I think they’ll do just that, beating the Giants 34-17.
This game screams blowout as the Cowboys are playing the most consistent football we’ve seen in a long while to where it’s hard to fathom a letdown. The Giants, on the other hand, have been erratic with flashes of good football, but then also play so poorly that they allow the lowly Falcons to beat them.
New York does have an assortment of offensive weapons that are starting to heat up, so the Cowboys’ defense will be challenged. While that will keep them in the game early, look for Kellen Moore and company to unleash the fury as the Cowboys put up another impressive offensive showing.
Cowboys 38, Giants 28.
Maybe I’m buying too much into these Cowboys, but they don’t look like the team that struggles to put away games like this. The Giants aren’t as terrible as some people think, but they’re definitely not good either. Daniel Jones is still Daniel Jones, and his alarmingly high rate of tight-window throws suggests he’ll prove that against a Dallas defense that is suddenly good at taking the ball away.
More importantly, Jason Garrett is still Jason Garrett and Kellen Moore is decidedly not Jason Garrett. The Cowboys have the better offense, quarterback, and offensive coordinator while also somehow being healthier. That’s a pretty good recipe for success if you're the Cowboys. Time to flirt with another 40 burger.
Cowboys win 38-21.