By Yusuf Nakhooda
As the Cowboys come off a thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles, and a much needed bye week they are back in action this evening as the battle the New York Giants on Monday night, in the Meadowlands. The Cowboys beat the Giants in the season opener 35-17.
Dallas (4-3) arguably rescued its season before its bye week, thrashing Philadelphia 37-10 at home Oct. 20 to snap a three-game losing streak. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, but it was the defense that delivered a needed bounce-back effort and limited the Eagles to 283 yards while forcing four turnovers.
The Giants (2-6) have lost four straight as rookie quarterback Daniel Jones continues his learning curve under center. He threw for a season-high four touchdowns and finished with 322 yards, but it was not enough as New York fell 31-26 at Detroit last Sunday.
Here are three things to keep and eye on as to how the game might unfold.
1.) New Players making their debuts:
Prior to the Oct. 29 trade deadline, both the Cowboys and the Giants made moves to improve the depth and quality of their defensive fronts.
Dallas sent a 2021 conditional seventh-round pick, which could turn into a sixth-rounder, to the New England Patriots in order to acquire former long-time Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett. The 33-year old had 63 sacks through his first 10 seasons in the NFL, and his ability to play inside or out could make him a versatile piece for the Cowboys.
New York, on the other hand, took a much more youthful approach, parting with a third-round pick in 2020 and a fifth-round selection in 2021 in exchange for New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The No. 3 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft may not ever live up to draft position, but he can be an impactful player in the right defense.
It will be interesting to see how both players come along with their new teams.
2.) Ezekiel Elliott vs Saquon Barkley
In the modern NFL, seeing a running back selected in the top five of the draft is not a common practice. With that being said, these two teams playing on Monday night have made that bold move, and so far, it has paid off for both.
In 47 games since being drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, Elliott has rushed for 4,650 yards and 30 touchdowns while also adding 1,375 yards and six touchdowns receiving. Sure, there have been a few hiccups off the field, but the Ohio State product is one of the league's best running backs.
Barkley hasn't been on the field as long, but he has still managed to throw his name into the hat for top offensive playmakers in the league. Despite only playing in 21 games, the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft has 2,562 yards (1,680 rushing, 882 receiving) while putting up 18 total touchdowns.
During the first meeting this season, Barkley put up better numbers statistically (139 total yards on 15 touches). But Elliott (14 touches, 63 yards, touchdown) got the last laugh as the Cowboys won easily.
3.) Daniel Jones 1st start vs. the Cowboys
The first time these two teams played in Week 1, longtime quarterback Eli Manning was still the starter. Manning's underwhelming performance through two games (556 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 6.2 yards per attempt) led to his benching.
The ups and downs (seven interceptions, six fumbles lost) have been prevalent for Jones, but the sixth overall pick of this year's draft has undoubtedly added a spark to the offense at times.
It will be interesting to see how he fares against a Cowboys defense that ranks ninth in the league in passing yards allowed per game (228.0).
The Giants might keep the game close, but look for the Cowboys to set up the run, with some play action with Dak Prescott to control the running the game. On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Bennett will make a huge impact buy stuffing the run and making life havoc for the Giants. This will give the rest of the defense to make turnovers for a easy Cowboys victory. Also look for Tony Pollard to spell Zeke with his quick runs and screen passes to keep the Giants defense off balance.
Final Score: Cowboys 38 Giants 14
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