Giants (0-0) Cowboys (0-0)
Last year Cowboy fans saw their team finish
up with a 12-5 record for the second straight year. The Cowboys were in the playoffs
in 2021, and hopes were high as they headed off to the playoffs once again.
Giants started off their season with a new general manager and head coach. They
were in rebuilding mode, and their surprising 9-5-1 record earned them a playoff
spot as well.
Last year the Cowboys finished second in
the NFC East to the 14-3 Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys got off to a good playoff
start, as they totally controlled their wild card game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
earning them a 31-14 win. The Cowboys fell short the following week in a close
divisional playoff game with the San Francisco 49ers, losing that one 19-12.
the offseason head coach Mike McCarthy made a number of changes, which included
the release of his offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. The Cowboys were the top
team in points scored in 2021, and the fourth in 2022 with Moore running the offense
and calling the plays. McCarthy has a new plan for the offense, and he will be
calling the plays this year.
year new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll overcame deficiencies
in many areas. They guided the Giants into the playoffs for the first time since
2016. The Giants enjoyed a wildcard win over the Minnesota Vikings, but then took
a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which ended their season. This offseason the
Giants worked at improving the roster, looking for it to be faster, more athletic,
and more versatile at the skill positions on offense and defense.
have been the most injured team since 2009, and that pattern continued into the
on offense and defense. Many secondary players were called on
to take over in key spots. The Giants installed new turf at the stadium, and that
may help to cut down on some of the injuries. They also managed to retain offensive
coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Don Martindale.
Prescott has a lot of pressure on him coming off last years performance. When
a quarterback throws a lot of interceptions it's a big problem. Prescott's 15
interceptions tied for the most in the league, and that was in just the 12 regular
season games he played in. The offensive line played well, giving Prescott and
backup quarterback Cooper Rush the pass protection they needed, and were ranked
fourth in sacks allowed last year. Their run blocking helped the team to be one
of the top ten in rushing, averaging just over 135 rushing yards per game.
Cowboys put the franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard, who had career highs
in rushing yards and touchdowns, (1007 yards, and 9 touchdowns). Pollard looks
to be totally recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the Cowboys playoff
loss with the 49ers. The team parted ways with Ezekiel Elliott, who had career
lows in rushing yards, rushing attempts, and yards per attempt. CeeDee Lamb had
a career year, and was on the receiving end of 107 of the 355 total completions
thrown by his two quarterbacks. Lamb was one of the top eight receivers in the
league in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
Michael Gallup struggled
last year dealing with an ACL injury, and will be anxious to show he is in full
form. The Cowboys also traded for Brandin Cooks, Cooks was a first round pick,
and has had six 1,000-yard seasons in his nine year career. The Cowboys lost their
leading tight end, Dalton Schultz to the Texans. Schultz was the second leading
receiver on the team the last two years running, and the Cowboys did not bring
in a big name talent to replace him
pressure is the name of the game for the Cowboys defense, and no one brings it
more than Micah Parsons who led his group with 13.5 sacks. The Cowboys passing
defense was ranked eight in the league, and they were tied for third in sacks,
coming up with 54. Pass rusher Dorance Armstrong had a career high 8.5 sacks,
and DeMarcus Lawrence had 6. They plan to move Parsons from linebacker to defensive
end to give him more opportunities to get at the quarterback.
secondary is very strong with cornerbacks Trevon Diggs, who led the NFL with 11
interceptions in 2021, and DaRon Bland, who led the team in interceptions as a
rookie last year with 5. Diggs can be too eager at times when looking for those
interceptions. Last year he was targeted 82 times in coverage, and allowed 56
catches for a 68.3 completion percentage.
To make things harder for opposing
quarterbacks, the Cowboys traded with the Colts to add Stephon Gilmore to the
group. Gilmore was the defensive player of the year in 2019. The Cowboys used
a first round pick on nose tackle Mazi Smith as their rushing defense has been
a weak point over the past few years. Last year the Cowboys had more run attempts
against them than any team in the league, and were ranked 22nd in rushing defense.
Last year Daniel Jones started the
first 16 games for the Giants, passing for 3,205 yards, with 15 passing touchdowns,
5 interceptions, and a 92.5 passer rating while completing 67.2% of his passes.
Jones also ran for 708 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Jones took the team to the No.
6 seed in the playoffs. After that Jones and the Giants agreed to a four-year,
$160 million contract with $92 million guaranteed. The offensive line will be
tested from the start with the aggressive pass rush the Cowboys will throw at
them. The Cowboys pressure rate last year was over 43 percent, tied for the best
in the NFL, and the Giants offensive line was the worst in the league allowing
just about 45 percent.
The Giants ranked last in the NFL in 20-plus-yard completions,
and this might not be the game to push that. Even if his offensive line has improved,
Jones will still have to get rid of the ball quickly. It might be surprising to
hear that running back Saquon Barkley was the most targeted player last year (76),
and wide receiver Darius Slayton was next (71). Richie James (70) is in Kansas
City. Isaiah Hodgins playing in only 8 games, was tied with James for the lead
in touchdowns with 4. Hodgins also turned 22 of his 33 catches into first downs.
Rookie receiver Jalin Hyatt, and free agent Parris Campbell are also in the mix.
Sterling Shepherd and Wan’Dale Robinson are returning from ACL tears, with
Robinson listed as doubtful. The Giants acquired former Pro Bowl tight end Darren
Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders, and he is listed as questionable dealing with
a hamstring issue. Either way, Daniel Bellinger will be on the field. Bellinger
had a good rookie year averaging just about 9 yards a catch.
Needless to say, Barkley will be instrumental in this game testing the Cowboys
rushing defense. He'll be backed up by Matt Breida, and promising rookie Gary
Brightwell might see some playing time.
Defensive coordinator Don Martindale
had his hands full last year dealing with injuries. They ranked 14th in pass defense,
and 27th in rushing defense. This year starts off with all hands on deck, and
with the addition of some upfront talent to stop the run. They acquired A'Shawn
Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, and inside linebacker Bobby Okereke. Robinson and
Okereke are listed as starters. They also bolstered the secondary, selecting Deonte
Banks in the first round of the draft, and Tre Hawkins III in the sixth. Both
will be starters along with veteran Adoree' Jackson. They will be challenged by
the group of receivers the Cowboys have available if Dak Prescott has time to
The Giants won't have to worry about Ezekiel Elliott trying to pound
through them or deal with the good pass protection Elliott provided for Prescott.
Tony Pollard is the featured back now, and it will be interesting to see how he
handles the workload. The Cowboys saw starters left guard Tyler Smith missing
practice this week with a hamstring strain, listed as doubtful, and left tackle
Tyron Smith is questionable with an ankle injury.
The Giants finished 1-4-1 in the NFC East last season, and the Cowboys were 4-2,
having won both of the matchups with the Giants. For the Cowboys all eyes will
be on how head coach Mike McCarthy handles the play calling, looking to have a
more run oriented offense. That would make it easier for Dak Prescott to get over
any doubts as he gets back to form.
For the Giants, the eyes will be on Daniel
Jones to see if he can step up and take advantage of the playmakers they have
provided for him to work with. The Giants were a surprise team last year, and
this game will be an opportunity for them to show they have built up on their
strengths to become a serious contender.
Sunday at 1:00pm Cardinals (0-0)
at Commanders (0-0)
Sunday at 4:25pm Eagles (0-0) at Patriots (0-0)
at 8:20pm Cowboys (0-0) at Giants (0-0)
The Commanders, Eagles and Cowboys
are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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17 Giants at Cardinals
Sept 21 Giants at 49ers