A week after going on the road to Philadelphia and coming up on the wrong side of a very close, very entertaining game, the Cowboys return to the comforts of their own home. Better than that, though, is drawing a Giants team that is pretty much at the lowest point of the year so far.
Quarterback Daniel Jones, who signed a big extension last offseason, had missed three weeks with a neck injury. He finally returned this past week against the Raiders, only to be knocked out after just nine attempts. Soon afterwards, the Giants’ worst fears were confirmed: a torn ACL.
Jones’ unfortunate injury is only the most recent - and most devastating - blow to this roster. Jones represents the 15th Giants player on the injured reserve right now, a list that includes five starters in addition to backup QB Tyrod Taylor, who injured his ribs two weeks ago in relief of Jones.
All of this means the Giants will be turning to undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito, a New Jersey native who will be making his first career start and playing in just his third game. New York has also signed journeyman Matt Barkley from the practice squad. DeVito will have to lead his team into Dallas to face a Cowboys team that’s undefeated at home this year and already beat this Giants team 40-0 in Week 1, when the team was considerably more healthy.
That makes it at least a little more understanding to see the Cowboys favored by a whopping 17 points, the largest spread of any game so far this season. It’s not just that the 2-7 Giants are a bad team and, with DeVito under center, likely to get worse. It’s that the Cowboys have been one of the league’s better teams by most metrics, with a stifling defense and explosive special teams unit leading the way. The offense has been getting a lot better in the last two weeks, as well.
There’s also the fact that the Cowboys have made AT&T Stadium a legitimate homefield advantage this year. They’re 3-0 in Dallas this season and have won those games by a combined score of 111-33. In fact, the last time the Cowboys lost any home game was Week 1 of last year, when the Buccaneers defeated them after Dak Prescott exited early with an injury.
And if all of those factors weren’t enough, throw in the trend these Cowboys have of whipping whichever team they face after a loss. Not only have they not lost consecutive games since November of 2021, but in the last three years the Cowboys have outscored their opponent 323-126. Not only are the Cowboys coming off a loss, but it was close loss to their bitter rival.
It’s hard to really hype this game all that much. There’s really no reason this should even be close, and a loss for the Cowboys would prove a hundred times more detrimental to fanbase morale than the 49ers loss. But this game does represent the starting point of a four-game stretch that could prove crucial to Dallas’ playoff odds.
After the Giants this week, they’ll travel to Carolina to take on a one-win Panthers team that looks listless. After that, it’s a Thanksgiving matchup with the Commanders, who jettisoned both of their young edge rushers at the trade deadline and appear to be thinking about 2024 already. A week after that, Dallas hosts a Seahawks team that’s put up some wins but doesn’t seem to be among the top teams in the NFC.
Once that stretch is over, it’s a mini-bye for the Cowboys before hosting the Eagles for their rematch. Speaking of Philadelphia, who enter the bye this week, their three opponents prior to Dallas consist of the Chiefs, Bills, and 49ers. If the Cowboys manage to go 4-0 in these next four games, all of which they’ll likely be favored in, then it’s a very real possibility that the rematch with the Eagles will carry heavy implications for the NFC East race and, perhaps, the top seed in the conference.
That’s really the best way to bill this week’s game with the Giants. The Cowboys have a golden opportunity in front of them to stack some wins, and it begins with taking care of a beleaguered divisional foe at home. If they want to get back into the race for the division, it starts here. A strong showing against the Giants is just the first step, but it’s one they can’t afford to mess up.