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Position battleground (offense): Cowboys vs. Giants head-to-head breakdown

A positional head-to-head breakdown of the Week 1 matchup between the Cowboys and Giants to find the strengths and weaknesses of each offensive position.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season. As we’ll do each week, we breakdown the positions on offense for the Cowboys versus their opponent, in this case the Giants.

Dak Prescott vs. Daniel Jones

Taking the Dallas Cowboys into the Divisional Round last year will give Dak huge confidence and also a massive yearning to exceed last season’s success and go deeper in the playoffs. What better way to start that campaign than against the New York Giants that have huge questions in their secondary.

As for Daniel Jones, he has a lot of pressure on him to prove that the team’s improvement last year wasn’t a fluke. His mobility to escape the pocket and create was a huge leap that helped the Giants offense, but questions to how much his passing has improved will be scrutinized this week.

Prescott is clearly the better quarterback here with much better arm talent and has so much command as the leader of the Cowboys offense. With Jones finishing second-most among quarterbacks in first downs as a rusher last year, as well as finishing fourth in rush yards and rushing touchdowns, it’s safe to say he’s a better rusher. We all know Dak has the ability to get out and secure first downs with his legs, it seems to be a part of his game the coaches, or maybe scheme, demand he avoids.
Win: Cowboys

NFL: JAN 22 NFC Divisional Playoffs - TBD at 49ers Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tony Pollard/Rico Dowdle/Deuce Vaughn
Saquon Barkley/Matt Breida/Gary Brightwell

Pollard takes over as the lead back after Ezekiel Elliott’s departure to New England. Last season, Pollard was more effective than Zeke as a rusher and believe it or not, he also finished with a higher blocking grade than Zeke. The question for Pollard is more about how he can handle the prime role for an entire season. Dowdle has been a highlight in training camp and during preseason games. What’s interesting is how well he played as a receiver out the backfield. Let’s also take a moment to think about Deuce Vaughn who is about to enter his first NFL game. Let’s see how he does.

On the other side the Giants have Saquon Barkley. He’s a very dynamic running back and can hit a home run at any second. The issue for the Giants backfield is Barkley and Brieda are both injury prone. The fact that both are facing Dallas in Week 1 is important for them both, and both have the speed to test this Cowboys run defense that will have its work cut out chasing them down.

Between the top running backs on both teams it’s a close battle, but the win goes to the Giants in a head-to-head between the two. When it comes to the backup role, Breida outscores Dowdle as he’s proven to have production in an NFL game. As for Dowdle, he’s had issues over durability since joining Dallas.

Vaughn adds a huge boost to the Cowboys running back position and if all goes to plan, he could be the denominator that makes the position for Dallas a formidable group to face each week. Unfortunately, we don’t know how that will look in a regular season game being that this is his first real test.
Win: Giants

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

CeeDee Lamb/Brandin Cooks/Michael Gallup
Darius Slayton/Parris Campbell/Sterling Shepard

You could argue this is one of the most talented wide receivers corps the Cowboys have put together in a long time. It’s certainly the most improved position for Dallas in comparison to last season. The addition of Brandin Cooks takes this group to a whole other level, where Michael Gallup has impressed all preseason at Oxnard looking far removed from his ACL recovery season.

For the Giants, the needle for the wide receiver talent hasn’t moved all that much. They made plenty of additions in the offseason to help raise the standard from last year. Parris Campbell joined the team in an effort to get more talented at the slot position. Slayton got re-signed to a two-year deal, plus they added Jalin Hyatt in the draft, who was a speedster for the Tennessee Volunteers last year.

This is a clear win for Dallas. Even if we discounted Lamb, the duo of Cooks and Gallup would out perform the current crop of pass catchers for the Giants. That’s not to say the Cowboys secondary can relax as the speed of this group can take the top off the defense, especially if they get caught napping. Maintain focus and keep to the assignment is key to victory against this Giants receiver group. They need to make sure complacency doesn’t set it knowing the Giants finished 26th in receiving last year.
Win: Cowboys

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Jake Ferguson vs Darren Waller
No more Dalton Schultz, so now it’s time for plenty of Fergu-Shot who were both fan favorites last year. Add to the mix some Luke Schoonmaker, who will make his first NFL appearance this week which will be exciting to see. He’s spent a lot of preseason rehabbing from injury so he’s going to want to make a big impression early.

The Giants added ex-Raiders tight end Darren Waller who was a huge success in 2020. The Raiders however decided to move on from Waller after he missed time over the last two seasons and only scored five touchdowns in that time. Waller is a technician when it comes to running routes and catching contested passes. But how will he do after two seasons of low production?

This is a tricky to one figure out as there are so many unknowns for both teams. How will Ferguson look as the main tight end on this offense, and more importantly, how will he handle the pressure? Dak likes to utilize his tight ends a lot as a safety valve, so when playing out-of-structure, Ferguson needs to know what is expected of him. On the other side we have Waller that has struggled after one big season and was traded by Las Vegas. There’s no denying Waller has the skills, it’s more the question of what Waller will arrive given the fact Daniel Jones also likes to target his tight ends often. Given the Giants wide receivers are lacking, expect plenty of action going toward Waller this season, more specifically this game.
Win: Giants

Carolina Panthers v New York Giants Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The starting five for Dallas are not the problem, it’s depth people have concerns with given Tyron Smith’s injury issues and how Terence Steele will play. One piece of good news is Steele has been given a contract extension which tells us he must be fully ready to play. That means the right side of the line will be back to dominating the run game so effectively like it did last year. Both Smith’s line up on the left making that duo just as formidable. And Tyler Biadasz looks to continue his steady trajectory upward since taking the starting role at center. Keep watch of Tyler Smith on the practice report this week as he walked out of practice with a hamstring injury. That depth concern is kicking in early.

As for the Giants, they are a far cry from what the Cowboys have to play with this season. They’ve added John Michael Schmitz in the draft and last year Evan Neal saw his struggles trying to play out of position. Left tackle Andrew Thomas is the team’s best lineman and he will want to continue his physical dominance this season. But an offensive line is only as good as it’s weakest link and this Giants line still has a long way to go from allowing the fifth-most sacks last season.
Win: Cowboys


Which team has the better offense?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Dallas Cowboys
    (684 votes)
  • 8%
    New York Giants
    (61 votes)
745 votes total Vote Now

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