Giants (0-4) Cowboys (1-3)
The Cowboys scored 38 points last Sunday in
their game with the Cleveland Browns. Still, it wasn't enough to keep up with
the Browns, who outscored them 49-38.
The Giants had a chance to catch up near
the end of their game in Los Angeles. Things didn't work out for them, and they
took a 17-9 loss to the Rams.
have certainly changed for the Cowboys since last year. Jerry Jones fired head
coach Jason Garrett and hired Mike McCarthy to fill that spot. McCarthy sat out
the 2019 season after after being fired in Green Bay with a 125-77-2 record in
the regular season, and one Super Bowl title. Garrett passed on to McCarthy the
league's top offense in 2019, and he also inherited a defense that was ranked
9th. Last year at this time, the Cowboys held a 3-1 record, and they finished
the season at 8-8.
If the Cowboys had won their next to last game in Philadelphia,
it would have been the Cowboys going to the playoffs instead of the Eagles. Garrett
might even have retained his job as head coach. Jerry Jones certainly wasn't happy,
and he's probably not happy now, with his team currently sitting at 1-3. Garrett
will be returning to his old stadium for the first time, and it will be interesting
to see how the fans react to him when he steps out to the sidelines.
Cowboys continue to field a strong offense. They are the only team in the NFL
averaging at least 500 yards per game (510). Dak Prescott has produced an average
408 passing yards per game. Obviously if you do the math, you can see that the
ground game isn't where they would like it to be. They were fifth in the league
last year, averaging almost 135 yards a game. Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 3.9
yards a carry, which is the lowest in his career, but they are getting the ball
to him in the air. Elliott pulled in 8 of 8 last week, and overall has caught
23 of 30 for 159 yards and 1 touchdown. That projects out to be more targets,
catches, and yards than he has had in any other year.
If the Cowboys do want
to run more, it doesn't help that seven-time Pro Bowler left tackle Tyron Smith
won't be available. The Cowboys two best ground games to date have been with Smith
in the lineup. If that means more passing, Amari Cooper is certainly up to the
task. His 134 receiving yards last week has him third in the NFL with a total
401 receiving yards, and he's second with 37 receptions. The Giants secondary
will also have to deal with deep threat Michael Gallup, who is averaging 21.2
yards a catch, and rookie CeeDee Lamb, who came on strong last week, catching
5 of 7 for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns.
UPDATE: Center Joe Looney, who started
the first four games, is out with a knee injury.
The Cowboys have given up more points
than any other team in the NFL. So far against them this season teams have averaged
36.5 points a game. In their first game, a loss to the Rams, the defense gave
up just 20. After that, 39 to the Falcons in their only win, before losing the
next two games to the Seahawks 38-31, and Browns 49-38. They gave up a franchise-record
307 yards rushing last week to the Browns, which has them now allowing an average
172.5 rushing yards per game.
The Cowboys are working with a new defensive
scheme instituted by Mike Nolan, who replaced former defensive coordinator Rod
Marinelli. They sure could use having two key skilled players back on the field.
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch broke his collar bone in the first game, and linebacker
Sean Lee has been on injured reserve since the start of the season. Cornerback
Chidobe Awuzie has missed the last two games, but cornerback Anthony Brown is
now available. Brown was just moved from IR to the active roster after missing
three games with a rib injury.
Good news. Daniel Jones is a mobile
quarterback who has rushed for 137 yards in four games. Bad news, Jones is the
team's leading rusher, and that just shouldn't be. The Giants offensive line and
ball carriers have improved each game as they learn to play without Saquon Barkley.
It's been baby steps for sure, but last week running backs Devonta Freeman, playing
in just his second game with the Giants, and Wayne Gallman combined for 17 carries
and 78 yards, 4.6 yards a carry.
That's a big improvement from the week earlier
where they had 9 carries for 17 yards. Freeman was also there for the passing
attack, catching all four of Jones passes to him for 35 yards. Evan Engram was
targeted the most, catching 6 of 10 for 35 yards, and Darius Slayton was next
pulling in 3 of 7 for 48 yards. The offensive line needs to play well for the
running backs, and for Jones to make the right decisions this week. If that happens
they can score some touchdowns instead of field goals.
Last week the defense limited Rams
quarterback Jared Goff to 200 passing yards, his lowest of the season. In fact,
if they hadn't allowed Goff to connect with Cooper Kupp in the fourth quarter
with a 55 yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-3 play, well just do the math. They
held the Rams overall rushing attack to 58 yards on 23 carries, a 2.5 yard average.
You look at those numbers and think maybe the Giants should have won that game.
That would mean you skipped the paragraph above this one. The point is, the Giants
defense seems to be getting its act together. Right now, even including a poor
showing against San Francisco the week earlier, the Giants defense is 5th out
of 32 teams in yards allowed at 328.3 per game. The Giants have placed outside
linebacker Oshane Ximines on injured reserve. Strong safety Jabrill Peppers missed
the game in Los Angeles against the Rams, and he may return this week.
The level of competition drops this week for
the Giants, but does it drop enough? In the first four games, they faced opponents
who have a combined 11-4 record so far this season. The Cowboys are 1-3, and could
easily have been 0-4 if Atlanta didn't totally botch one special teams play.
the other hand, the level of competition has also dropped for the Cowboys. The
Giants haven't shown much on offense, and that could be a break for the Cowboys
struggling defense. The Cowboys offense seems unstoppable, and while the Giants
defense can play well for the most part, they are subject to giving up big plays.
is another factor though. Jason Garrett was the Cowboys head coach up until last
year. Certainly things have changed there, but Garrett still knows the tendencies
of many of the players he coached. As far as play calling, current offensive coordinator
Kellen Moore was doing just that for Garrett last year. His input could be the
edge the Giants need to get their first win of the season in Arlington this Sunday.
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (1-2-1)
at Steelers (3-0).
Sunday at 1:00pm Rams (3-1) at Washington (1-3).
at 4:25pm Giants (0-4) at Cowboys (1-3).
The Cowboys are the only NFC East
team favored to win in these games.
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are last in the NFL, scoring just 47 points over four games.
Giants haven't scored a touchdown in consecutive games for the first time since
Dak Prescott is the first player
in NFL history with at least 450 yards passing in three straight games.
Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett spent 12 years with the Cowboys, 9
as their head coach.
Oct 18 Washington at Giants
22 Giants at Philadelphia