The New York Giants’ season starts in earnest this Sunday. After four non-divisional matchups to start the year, Big Blue will enter a six-week stretch in which five games are against fellow NFC East teams. Despite being 0-4, the Giants are only a game and a half back of first place in the division. None of the Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles, or Dallas Cowboys have more than one win, so New York is still in the thick of a turtle race to win the NFC East and host a playoff game. If the Giants can somehow find a way to take at least four of their next six games, they’ll be in position to play meaningful football in December.
New York will start their divisional gauntlet this week in Dallas against the hated Cowboys. The surprisingly solid Giants defense, currently ranked fifth in yards allowed per game, will face their toughest test yet against an incredibly productive Cowboys offense. Dallas is first in both total yards and passing yards, and third in total points. Quarterback Dak Prescott is on pace for 6760 yards, which would shatter Peyton Manning‘s single season record by over 1200 yards.
The Cowboys arguably boast the most talented collection of offensive weapons in football. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup are all big-play receivers, and Ezekiel Elliott is three-time Pro Bowl running back. If the Giants can hold Dallas’ final score to the mid-twenties or under, it would be a major statement about the legitimacy of this Big Blue defense.
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An enormous contributing factor to the Cowboys’ eye-popping offensive totals, however, has been their terrible defense. Dallas is last in points allowed per game, which has forced their offense to go all-out just to keep pace. The Cowboys’ young secondary was expected to struggle, but their front seven has been a disappointment. They rank second-last in total rushing yards allowed, and are middle of the pack in sacks and quarterback hurries. If the Giants’ feckless offense was looking for a defense to break out against, Dallas’ is a prime candidate.
Here’s an overview of everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game, followed by a prediction for the final score.
Where and When
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST/1:25 p.m PST
Most Concerning Matchup: WR CeeDee Lamb vs. CB Darnay Holmes
Dallas goes three-deep at receiver in quality options. The Giants, unfortunately, have only one quality cornerback in James Bradberry. Ryan Lewis, who came up from the practice squad, started for Big Blue last week and played reasonably well. He’ll likely be covering Gallup while Bradberry will be following Cooper. That leaves the rookie Holmes on the rookie Lamb in the slot.
Holmes has had a rocky start to his career, getting picked on often by opposing offenses and earning a 37.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Lamb, on the other hand, has been strong. He already has 21 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns through the season’s first four games. Holmes will be at a height disadvantage as well, giving up four inches to the imposing Lamb. If Peppers is healthy enough to play, that could free up Logan Ryan to take some snaps covering Lamb. Otherwise, Holmes will be in tough all game against Dallas’ first-round pick.
Most Promising Matchup: WR Darius Slayton vs. CB Trevon Diggs
Slayton, the Giants’ nominal number-one receiver, has been quiet ever since his two-touchdown performance in Week 1. This Sunday figures to be his best chance get back on track. Chidobe Awuzie is still on injured reserve, so the rookie Diggs will take on top cornerback duties for Dallas. Diggs is a talented player, as he was projected by many to be a first-round draft choice. But like so many other first-year corners, he’s struggled. Diggs is long and rangy, but Slayton should be able to use his quickness and speed to get the better of him. If Slayton is ready to be the true top wideout Giants fans hope he can be, this is a matchup he needs to exploit.
Keys to Victory
Control the ball. Big Blue finally showed some life in their ground game against the Los Angeles Rams, rushing for 5.4 yards per attempt. It’s imperative they keep that up on Sunday. A few clock-draining scoring drives can shorten the game and limit possessions for Dallas’ potent offense. If New York can combine an effective running attack with a turnover-free game from Daniel Jones, their defense will only need to stop the Cowboys two or three times to keep the score managable. Add in some touchdowns instead of field goals when they enter the red zone, and Big Blue can sneak out an upset win over their divisional rivals.
Final Score Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Giants 20
As admirably as New York’s defense has played for the most part this year, they still have too many holes to truly stop the Cowboys. Dallas’ stable of big-play receivers is a bad matchup for Big Blue’s thin cornerback corps. On offense, the Giants just don’t have the skill position players to fully take advantage of the Cowboys’ porous defense. Don’t be surprised if New York is competitive into the fourth quarter, but ultimately the talent disparity will be too large for them to overcome.