The Cowboys have won three in a row and look forward to hosting a hated division rival in the New York Giants to extend that winning streak to four straight. Division games always present a unique challenge and in most cases how you feel about the team’s talent level and current record lends itself to being meaningless when the game kicks off.
Adding more intrigue to an already fascinating week five matchup is the fact that this game will be played almost exactly a year from Dak Prescott’s gruesome injury and against the team that he got injured by. You have to believe that, if even for a moment, Dak will have that thought, and possibly many others, in the back of his mind as it looks to be the absolute final chapter needed to make it through as he looks to turn the page and close the book on what has been a massive challenge in Dak’s life over the last year.
The Cowboys will look to take care of business with a team that many view as inferior, however this New York Giant’s team does have talent on both sides of the ball, which means the Cowboys cannot take this game for granted. If the Cowboys team is locked in as they need to be, there is no reason that the Cowboys cant come out with their fourth straight victory.
Here are five things to watch this week:
1. The Cowboys will look to contain Saquon Barkley
Despite his injury history, there is no denying Saquon Barkley’s supreme talent. Barkley is a homerun-hitting, big-play running back that the Cowboys would be wise to key in on. Barkley’s statistics have been less than inspiring so far this season as he not topped 57 yards rushing versus an opponent, but he had two touchdowns last week. Barkley is rounding into form coming off his major injury he sustained early last season and looks poised to get stronger as he gets more comfortable and confident going forward.
Look for the Cowboys to make it a point to stop Barkley and his big-play ability as it may be in their best interest to force Daniel Jones to try and beat them in the air. The Cowboys have fared well against Barkley and this Giants offense in the past, they will look to continue that trend as they look to secure a W on Sunday afternoon.
2. How much will Jabril Cox factor into the linebacker mix with the departure of Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys sent shock waves around the NFL Tuesday night when they made the surprising move to cut ties with Jaylon Smith. The timing of the move was more surprising than the move itself, and the departure of Smith has created opportunity for others still in Dallas. No one looks to benefit more than the rookie Jabril Cox. The fourth-round pick from LSU has had many around the team excited as he has flashed raw ability all through camp and the preseason.
For the first time in his career it looks like Cox will have an opportunity to make a real impact in the NFL on Sunday. Cox has been a staple on special teams so far this year, but it will be interesting to see just how much he factors into the linebacker rotation going forward. There are many factors at play when a team makes a move like the Cowboys did with Smith, one of which may very well be just how they feel about Cox and his impact on this team going forward.
3. Look for another big day out of the Cowboys running backs
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a tear as of late and his full focus will be on this beatable Giants defense. Look for Zeke and Tony Pollard to continue to be explosive and punishing runners of the football on Sunday afternoon. Arguably no running back in the league has been playing better than Zeke has over the last couple weeks, add that to how dynamic Pollard is and the offensive creativeness that Kellen Moore brings and it is a bad recipe for a Giants defense that can be had in a multitude of ways.
This Cowboys team can win in different ways and there is absolutely no shortage of talent across the board, however this team has had an abundance of success when the running game is clicking and the Cowboys will look to continue that trend on Sunday.
4. Giants could be without a couple of their top offensive weapons
Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both did not play during the Giants week four win over the New Orleans Saints, and they have still been non-participants so far heading into week five which has put some doubt on their availability heading into their matchup with the Cowboys. If the Giants are without both it puts more pressure on rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney and veteran journey man John Ross to produce in their absence.
We all know that Trevon Diggs is playing at an elite level, arguably better than any other cornerback in the league, so it is safe to say he is up to the task versus any opposing wide receiver. But if the Giants were without Shepard and Slayton once again, it could present an easier matchup for the other cornerbacks on this Cowboys roster. This Cowboys team has stood tall against better receiving units so far this year, but it may be worth monitoring the two pass-catching options for their availability to see how it effects the Cowboys matchups on Sunday.
5. Look for the Cowboys pass rush to continue to get after the quarterback
The Cowboys have found ways to effect the quarterback as of late and they will look to continue that trend versus a less-than-stellar Giants offensive line. The Giants boast an offensive line unit that has dealt with a variety of injuries and is already not the most talented to begin with. To think the Cowboys could be in Daniel Jones face all day is a realistic possibility.
Look for Randy Gregory and others to be a real test for these offensive tackles as well as Osa Odighizuwa and company to get some real push in the middle. There will be opportunities for more turnovers this week and a lot of those mistakes are going to start up front as the Cowboys look to get after Daniel Jones all day.