The last time the Cowboys played the Giants, they had just cut ties with linebacker Jaylon Smith in a somewhat surprising move. They went on to blast their big city rival 44-20 to improve to 4-1 on the year. In a twist of delicious coincidence, their next clash with the Giants will feature Smith suiting up to play against his former team.
The Giants are expecting linebacker Jaylon Smith to play Sunday against the #Cowboys because of their Covid-depleted roster. Smith was signed to the practice squad today.— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) December 17, 2021
Despite a confounding decline on offense, the Cowboys are winners of two straight, remain undefeated against their division, and sit one game out of the top seed in the NFC. Meanwhile, the Giants are 4-9 and expected to start backup Mike Glennon at quarterback for the third straight week. It’s no wonder Dallas is favored by double digits, but do our writers feel as confident?
When New York has the ball
Stick with what’s gotten you this far
It’s likely a coincidence that the Dallas defense has been playing lights out football pretty much since they cut ties with Smith, but either way this is an elite unit playing at a very high level. Last week, we saw a finally healthy defensive front absolutely demolish an offensive line that had been playing fairly well all year.
This week, Dallas is facing a much less impressive bunch. Glennon is a solid backup, but that’s not saying much. Saquon Barkley has been limited in practice this week, while two of New York’s top four receivers are out with COVID-19. Firing Jason Garrett hasn’t provided any sort of spark either, as their replacement is Freddie Kitchens, whose tenure as the Browns’ head coach and offensive play-caller was so bad he got canned after just one year.
This is a matchup where Micah Parsons should have plenty of opportunities to continue building his case for Defensive Player of the Year, while the other usual suspects like DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Trevon Diggs should also come up with some big plays. Dan Quinn needs to simply stick with the formula that’s been working so well for them as of late, and this should be another showcase of how powerful this defense is.
When Dallas has the ball
Establish the run game
It’s a weird thing for me to type out, but this week is one where the Cowboys ought to make a concerted effort to establish the run game. Connor Williams is rumored to be back as the starting left guard, giving Dallas a significant upgrade on outside runs where he’s asked to pull and get out as a lead blocker. This also allows Connor McGovern to go back to his fullback role, and with Terence Steele expected to start at left tackle it’s probably smart to limit the amount of pass block snaps for him.
But this game plan isn’t just about the Cowboys. The Giants have an especially bad run defense, ranking 27th in run defense DVOA and 20th in run stop win rate. Only seven teams are allowing more rushing yards on the year too. The fact that Jaylon Smith will be out there only adds to how favorable it should be for the Cowboys to get their ground game going again, which has been absent in their recent struggles on this side of the ball.
Of course, the Cowboys will have to throw the ball eventually. My advice would be for Dalton Schultz to simply run routes in Smith’s direction every time, although New York will also be without cornerbacks Adoree Jackson and Darnay Holmes as well as safeties Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers, and Quincy Wilson. That should create plenty of opportunities for these receivers, and in turn allow for Dak Prescott to bust out of his slump and have another big day against this team.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Indications are that Connor Williams will get the starting LG job back, and that is a big step in the right direction. Look for the Cowboys to play better on offense, although wishing for a 40 burger may be a bit much. Dak should have a much better game and Williams may help a lot with the run. Meanwhile, the defense just needs to be what they were against WFT and this should be a win that gets the Cowboys very close to locking up the division.
Dallas 30-13 over the Giants.
The Cowboys are set to face off against the Giants once again but this time the Giants could be short handed on both the offense and defensive sides of the football. The Cowboys on the other hand outside of left tackle Tyron Smith should be back and ready to go. This game for the Cowboys particularly on offense needs to be look at as a fix the offense game for Dak Prescott and this unit.
Prescott needs to get back to taking what defenses are giving him and not forcing the ball into tight windows, and Ezekiel Elliott should have another week to get use to that knee brace. On defense the Cowboys need to focus on stopping Saquon Barkley in order to force the Giants passing game to beat them which could again be led by backup Mike Glennon. Defensive ends Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence will play a big role in this Sunday. I have the Cowboys winning this one without too much resistance.
Cowboys 34, Giants 16.
I don’t see this game being close. For the second straight week, I think this is the week we finally see the offense get back on track. Dak Prescott leads the way with a 3TD day, and the defense provides constant pressure on Mike Glennon.
Give me the Cowboys, 33-18.
The Giants are shorthanded this week, while the Cowboys defense is beginning to develop into the dominant strength of this team. That sounds like a recipe for a long day for the home team that’s already riding a two-game losing streak. If the Dallas defense performs anything like it did last Sunday against Washington, this shouldn’t be close, regardless of how the offense looks. The Giants can’t do anything with Micah Parsons or Randy Gregory, which means DeMarcus Lawrence could also be primed for a big day. Against a backup quarterback, that’s blood in shark-infested waters.
Dallas has shown an ability to build a lead recently, but keeping their foot on an opponents’ throat is another matter. I suspect we might see another two or three score lead established early in New York followed by a stretch of stagnation that ultimately gives the appearance of a closer game that what actually transpired.
This one feels like a game where the Cowboys are going to steam roll the Giants, behind a revival from their offense, and on Monday we will all be discussing if Dak and the offense is back on track. Prescott is going to put up 350 yards, 3 TDs with no interceptions, and we will be happy come Monday. But I am not proclaiming this is a “get right” game for the offense, because the real test comes next week. For the defense, it will be eerily similar to the Washington game. Mike Glennon, Daniel Jones or Jake Fromm will face a heavy dose of the Dallas defensive line and will struggle to get anything done. It will be a complete shutout until the fourth quarter when the Giants put up a few garbage time scores.
Dak and the offense will look good, and most of the Giants points come in the fourth quarter when the game is over. But we will still feel uneasy if Dallas can show up again against the Cardinals.
Cowboys 29, Giants 21.
This offense needs to figure it out, and with the playoffs around the corner it needs to come relatively quick. Luckily Dak is 8-0 vs the Giants since 2017 and has always played well against the division rival. This has all the makings of a get right game, which still feels weird to say on a two game winning streak.
The defense stays opportunistic and makes Mike Glennon’s day a long one, and the offense gets on track as talks of their demise have been greatly exaggerated, as they win 34-17 en route to 3-0 record in the all so important month of December.
After the way the Dallas Cowboys played defensively last week against Washington, they should have little to fear this week with the New York Giants coming to town. This a team they completely dominated back in Week 5 and there’s no reason to believe they can’t have a repeat performance Sunday afternoon.
This game represents the perfect opportunity for Dak Prescott and Company to work out the offensive kinks as they make their push for the playoffs, hopefully as the one-seed in the NFC. I’m predicting a high-scoring affair for the Cowboys that ends up just being shy of a 40 burger.
Final score: 37-17, Cowboys.
It’s hard imagining this game going any other way than a Cowboys blowout victory. The Giants aren’t a good football team and it would take a series of unfortunate events for them to emerge victorious on Sunday. With Dak and company looking to get back on track, expect the offense to make a statement early and often. The defense may look a little suspect at moments in the game, but they’ll still deliver the final blow. Expect a big game from Amari Cooper and the Cowboys defense to score a defensive touchdown in their third consecutive week.
Cowboys 38, Giants 20.
This feels like a game that’s perfectlt set up for the Cowboys offense to get things going again. With Connor Williams back in the lineup, and maybe even Tony Pollard suiting up again, Dallas will remind other teams of how good they can be at running the ball. That’ll force more guys into the box, which makes things easier on the passing game. That’s what this offense has been missing since the bye week.
And yet, I don’t expect a blowout. The Cowboys know that the Giants won’t be able to score much. Their offense was bad enough under Daniel Jones, but Mike Glennon is a clear step down. I see Dallas getting an early lead and then going into kill-the-clock mode, considering this is a divisional game on the road late in the year.
Cowboys win, 28-17.