The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will meet on Monday night at MetLife Stadium, marking the second time Dallas will call on backup QB Cooper Rush to start a primetime game in as many seasons. For a team that spent the offseason seemingly relying on last year’s perfect 6-0 record against the NFC East to mean something this year, the Cowboys still have a long way to go to stay relevant without Dak Prescott, with the Giants presenting a major challenge at 2-0.
It was the Cowboys defense that earned their first win of the season on Sunday, slowing down a talented Bengals offense enough to let Rush execute a game-winning drive. With Dan Quinn leading the way, the Cowboys defense has proven through two weeks that with just a little help from the offense they can be enough to carry this team.
Last year’s sweep of the Giants could mean more of the same for the Cowboys defense, as they knocked out Daniel Jones in a 44-20 home win and held the Giants with Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm to six points on the road for a 21-6 victory.
The Cowboys will get another look at Jones in a crucial fourth year as the Giants starter, under new head coach Brian Daboll. In what could be Jones’ last year to prove he’s the future in New York, he’s off to a 2-0 start with a 70.9% completion percentage and just one interception. Taking care of the football has always been a priority for Jones, and something he worked on last season when former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was his offensive coordinator. Now, the Giants offense wants to be more aggressive, but are winning because of Jones’ efficiency.
It’s well documented at this point that the East hasn’t had a repeat winner since 2003-04, which is all the motivation both Giants and Eagles fans have needed to start believing in their 2-0 teams. Jalen Hurts has answered the call to make the most of what the Eagles have put around him on offense, and the same can be said about Jones who has unknown receiver Richie James leading the way in catches and yards for the Giants.
Jones and the Giants offense have also leaned on Saquon Barkley in the same way the Cowboys are counting on Ezekiel Elliott. Barkley has looked like his old self. rushing 18 times for 164 yards in the season opener and following it up with 21 touches in the Giants’ week two win vs. Carolina.
It’s still far too early in the season to know what the Cowboys 1-1 record or the Giants being 2-0 truly means for this season. The Cowboys losing to the Bucs but beating the Bengals could mean they’re solidly in the middle of the pack in the NFC, or the Bengals Super Bowl hangover could make that win look less significant as the weeks go by. The Giants win at the Titans in week one may have lost some shine when Tennessee lost 41-7 at the Bills this week, and a three point win vs. the Panthers who lost to the Browns in week one is what New York will take into this meeting with Dallas.
Christian McCaffery ran for 102 yards on 15 attempts against the Giants. Last season, Elliott had his second best rushing performance of the season against the Giants in their blowout win at home. It will take a balanced effort for the Cowboys offense to do enough to win on the road, with their receiving corps set to look different once again. Dennis Houston was waived on Tuesday, creating a path for either Michael Gallup or Jalen Tolbert, or both, to make their season debut. Both give the Cowboys a deep threat in the offense they’re currently missing behind CeeDee Lamb.
Dalton Schultz was the Cowboys leading receiver against the Giants in the road win last season, but a PCL injury suffered against the Bengals puts him in danger of missing this game. The Giants have struggled against tight ends in the pass game for a while, but the Cowboys are still set up to take advantage of the middle of the field with Jake Ferguson and Noah Brown. This will be a crucial game for Cowboys OC Kellen Moore to prove he can string together positive game plans, with the Dallas offense taking a huge step in the right direction last week after being held out of the end zone in week one.
Since the Giants swept the Cowboys in Dak Prescott’s rookie season, the Cowboys have only lost to them one other time. It was another game started by a Cowboys backup, Andy Dalton in Week 17 of the 2020 season. The four point loss kept the Cowboys out of the playoffs with the Giants playing spoiler that day in New Jersey. Monday night in Jersey is far too early in the season to talk about anybody playing spoiler, as two teams with the expectation of winning this division meet for the first time in 2022. Just how much of the Cowboys confidence in divisional games comes from Dak Prescott will be put to the test, though they’ve played the Giants close without Prescott before and have a newfound confidence in Cooper Rush to navigate the next few weeks ahead.