Dallas (4-3; 4-3 ATS) at N.Y. Giants (2-6; 3-5 ATS) (Monday night)Early line: Cowboys (minus-7 points). Total: (48)
DAL 1ST OFF; NYG 28TH DEF
DAL 4TH RUN; NYG 22ND vs. RUN
DAL 3RD PASS; NYG 25TH vs. PASS
DAL 6TH PTS; NYG 27TH PTS ALLOWED
NYG 24TH OFF; DAL 8TH DEF
NYG 17TH RUN; DAL 13TH vs. RUN
NYG 17TH PASS; DAL 9TH vs. PASS
NYG 22ND PTS; DAL 7TH PTS ALLOWED
DAL T16TH TO/TA; NYG T28TH TO-TA
Cowboys lead all-time series 67-46-2 and have won last 5 games vs. Giants, most recently defeating NY 35-17 at Dallas in Week One earlier this season. Cowboys’ offense gained 494 total yards and converted 6-of-10 3rd downs in Week One win over Giants. The Cowboys get an extra day to prepare for this Monday-night NFC East showdown coming off their Week 8 bye.
COWBOYS were feeling a lot better about themselves entering Week 8 bye after their 37-10 Sunday-night dismantling of the Eagles in Dallas for sole possession of the NFC East lead that snapped perplexing three-game losing streak that was proceeded by a promising 3-0 start.
COWBOYS would be ecstatic if the trade that they made during bye week with Pats for DE Michael Bennett improves defense as much as the acquisition of WR Amari Cooper from Raiders immediately improved the offense last season.
Bennett, who was obtained in exchange for a conditional late-round pick in 2021 draft and is coming off a one-game suspension by the Pats, gives COWBOYS the position flexibility they desire under D-coordinator/line coach Rod Marinelli. The move is also a nod to the loss of Tyrone Crawford, who tried to play through a hip injury but needed surgery and is out for the season.
A 3-time Pro Bowler, Bennett had his best season in 2015 with the Seahawks, when he had a career-high 10 sacks. He’s had nine sacks twice, most recently last year in his only season with Philadelphia, one of the COWBOYS’ NFC East rivals. Bennett had 2 ½ sacks in six games with the Patriots this season and has 65 ½ sacks for his career.
COWBOYS’ top-ranked offense was dominant and diverse vs. Eagles, gaining 402 total yards and converting 9-of-15 3rd and 4th downs, including 189 yards rushing —116 more yards than Philadelphia’s No. 2-ranked run defense had been allowing.
COWBOYS defense was equally impressive in Week 7 divisional victory, limiting the Eagles to 283 total yards and 3-of-9 3rd-down conversions and registering 3 sacks and four takeaways after forcing just five TOs for the season coming into the game.
COWBOYS RB1 Ezekiel Elliott, who entered Week 8 action ranked 5th in NFL in rushing yards with 602 (86.0 rushing ypg; 4.5 ypc), had 111 yards on 22 carries in Week 7 win, scoring early on a 1-yard run a play after running over Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins and getting credit for a TD before replay showed his knee down before the ball crossed the goal line. Elliott also led team with 6 catches for 36 yards on 7 targets.
COWBOYS showed lots of creativity on offense in Week 7 victory. WR Tavon Austin scooted 20 yards for a TD on an option pitch from QB Dak Prescott, who had an 8-yard QB sneak before breaking Roger Staubach’s franchise record for rushing TDs at that position.
Austin’s TD and Prescott’s 30 yards on a season high-tying 5 attempts didn’t account for all the wrinkles in COWBOYS’ first game in franchise history with TDs from a QB, RB and receiver. Elliott’s backup, Tony Pollard, was used early — starting with a winding 11-yard run when he somehow kept his knee off the ground after getting tripped in the backfield.
Under the circumstances, Prescott had one of his best games in Week 7 win. Besides the tone-setting sneak, when he kept his legs churning and powered through the line of scrimmage in 1st quarter, he was 21-of-27 for 239 yards with a TD and an INT (100.5 QB rating), and his 8-yard scoring run for COWBOYS’ final points broke Staubach’s club record of 20 TDs rushing by a QB.
COWBOYS had all their starting O-linemen and top three receivers together for the first time since Week 2 in Week 7 win. There was a chance four of them would miss the game because of injuries. Six-time Pro Bowl OLT Tyron Smith returned after missing 2 games with a sprained ankle, and ORT La’el Collins was back after missing one week with a knee injury.
COWBOYS’ Cooper had five catches for 106 yards after leaving early the week before in a loss to the previously winless Jets because of a thigh injury, and slot man Randall Cobb returned after not playing against the Jets because of a back injury and just missed a TD catch when his stretch at the goal line came up short.
Noteworthy COWBOYS defenders in Week 7 win were: MLB Jaylon Smith, who had a FF, a PB and 7 tackles (which tied for team lead with fellow LB Sean Lee); and DE Demarcus Lawrence, who had a sack-FF and 4 tackles.
COWBOYS PK Brett Maher now has the four longest FGs in club history in just his second season after making a 63-yarder against the Eagles. The only kicker in NFL history with three from at least 60 yards has two from 62 and one from 59.
On a down note, COWBOYS WR Michael Gallup finished Week 7 game tied for the league lead with five dropped passes. It’s probably a coincidence for now because Prescott still trusts him, but the 2nd-year player was targeted a season-low 4 times against Philadelphia, with three catches for 38 yards. Both of those were season lows as well.
COWBOYS also continued to have issues with penalties that were either poorly timed or involved bad judgment. Smith hit Eagles QB Carson Wentz in the helmet on a 3rd-down incompletion, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty that kept a drive alive. Two plays later, S Xavier Woods was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a hit after WR Alshon Jeffery dropped a pass when Woods easily could have pulled up. The Eagles scored their only TD on that possession.
COWBOYS OLB Leighton Vander Esch didn’t return after leaving in the first half in Week 7 with a neck injury but said later it was a “minor stinger.” DE Robert Quinn was sidelined by a rib injury. Executive VP of personnel Stephen Jones said Monday the club expected both to be available following the open week (double check statuses).
In COWBOYS’ Week One win over Giants, Prescott couldn’t have gotten his season off to a better start, completing 25-32-405 and 4 TD passes to 4 different receivers with zero INTs and zero sacks (158.3 QB rating).
Also in COWBOYS’ Week One win over Giants, Elliott had 13-53-1 rushing with a long of 10 (TD), Gallup had 7-158 receiving on 7 targets and a long of 62; Cooper had 6-106-1 receiving on 9 targets and a long of 45; Cobb had 4-69-1 receiving on 5 targets and a long of 25 (TD); TEs Blake Jarwin and Jason Witten each had a TD catch; Woods had a FF and team-leading 11 tackles; Vander Esch had a half-sack, a FF, a PB and 10 tackles; and Lawrence had a half-sack, a FF and a FR.
GIANTS were concerned enough after their 31-26 Week Eight road loss to Lions for their 4th straight defeat to call a players-only meeting to discuss ways to right things after a 2-6 start.
GIANTS’ most pressing issue for the team is being ready to play from the start. New York has been outscored 38-0 in the first quarter during its losing streak. The Giants don’t give up. In their current skid, they have gone within a TD in the fourth quarter in three of the four games. They just haven’t made the plays.
GIANTS have no consistency. Every week something different goes wrong, be it penalties or turnovers. In Week 7 vs. Arizona, the O-line allowed eight sacks. QB Daniel Jones was sacked 3 times in Week 8, with two coming late. A week after giving up 156 yards rushing vs. Cardinals, the Lions were limited to 59. However, QB Matthew Stafford was 25-of-32 for 342 yards and 3 TDs.
GIANTS’ defense is not close to being on the same page. The confusion in the secondary is a major concern. There are too many wide open receivers. The Lions had five passes of 20 yards or more, including touchdowns of 49 and 41 yards. New York has given up 13 pass plays of 30 or more yards this season. They allowed 19 last season.
GIANTS hope trade with the Jets for DL Leonard Williams early this week helps defense. Williams was the No. 6 overall pick by the Jets in 2015 and made the Pro Bowl in his second season, but never lived up to his lofty draft status.
Williams will provide experience on the GIANTS’ defensive line, where he’ll work alongside Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill. The Giants’ interior line has just six sacks, so Williams’ presence should help boost those numbers.
Aside from his 2 fumbles (one lost), GIANTS’ Jones put up nice numbers in Detroit, completing 28-41-322-4 TDs-0 INTs (124.2 QB rating) and rushing 4 times for 13 yards with a long of 9.
While losing WR Sterling Sheaprd to a concussion for a couple of weeks is not good, that has given GIANTS WR Darius Slayton the chance to play more. He had catches of 22 and 28 yards vs. Lions and both went for touchdowns. Golden continues to lead the wideouts (8-85 receiving on 10 targets with a long of 18 in Week 8).
GIANTS RB Saquon Barkley continued to do his part in Week 8 with 19-64 rushing and 8-79-1 receiving on 10 targets and a long of 38.
The GIANTS had 19 turnovers last season. They have 19 this year — in eight games.
Check status of GIANTS’ Shepard and CB Corey Ballentine (concussion; DNP in Week 8).
In GIANTS’ Week One loss to Cowboys, QB Eli Manning had 30-44-306-1 TD-0 INTs (95.5 QB rating) and a lost fumble before being replaced by Jones, who had 3-4-17-0 TDs-0 INTs (82.3 QB rating) and a lost fumble; Barkley had 11-120 rushing and a long of 59 and 4-19 receiving on 6 targets and a long of 9; and TE Evan Engram had 11-116-1 receiving on 14 targets and a long of 22.
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