KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING
The Giants were able to get into the win column last week as they emerged from the Big Easy after knocking off the Saints. They'll look to keep the momentum going this weekend as they hit the road once again to take on the Cowboys in Dallas. The offense is coming off its strongest performance of the season, as it topped the 400-yard mark for the first time, finishing with 485 total yards of offense. Daniel Jones threw for a career-high 402 yards, Saquon Barkley found the end zone twice, and the Giants overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and scored 17 unanswered points to win in overtime. Going up against a very talented Cowboys team, Jones, Barkley and the rest of Big Blue's offense will need a similar performance in Week 5 for the Giants to leave AT&T Stadium with their second consecutive win.
The Cowboys lead the all-time series against the Giants, 69-47-2. The Giants won the last meeting between the two teams in Week 17 of the 2020 season, but the Cowboys took home the victory in the last meeting at AT&T Stadium. That was a memorable contest for an unfortunate reason, as it was the game in which Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury - and 364 days after the gruesome injury, Prescott will take on the Giants again at AT&T Stadium.
- Questionable: OT Andrew Thomas
- Out: WR Sterling Shepard, WR Darius Slayton, S Jabrill Peppers, G Ben Bredeson
- Questionable: WR Amari Cooper, RB Ezekiel Elliott, DE Randy Gregory, OT Ty Nsekhe, DT Carlos Watkins
- Out: DE Dorance Armstrong, S Donovan Wilson
In the first four games of the season, the Giants trotted out four different starting offensive line combinations. There has been a rotating door at left guard, as Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Ben Bredeson and Matt Skura have taken turns starting. But for the first time in 2021, it looks like the Giants will not use a different starting offensive line combination. Skura played all 64 offensive snaps last week and earned an impressive 75.3 pass block grade on 48 passing plays from Pro Football Focus.
"The game is won and lost on the line of scrimmage every week in the NFL," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said about the O-line. "I thought our guys did a good job in that environment the other day against New Orleans, against a good front in a hard place to play. Crowd noise is typically a factor there and I think they handled all of that really well. I thought the protection throughout the game was really good…
"We've had some guys that have been with us for little bit, but then we've had some guys who are new. There have been some moving parts up there, but their approach is outstanding. They come to work, their preparation mentally and physically is really, really good. They work hard to develop that chemistry in a short period of time. They did a nice job in the game."
DJ VS. COWBOYS' SECONDARY
Daniel Jones is coming off his best performance in the NFL. Jones completed 28 of 40 passes (70 percent) for a career-high 402 yards and two touchdowns, earning a passer rating of 108.5. The third-year quarterback was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Giants to 17 unanswered points. He completed 14 of 19 passes (73.7 percent) for 203 yards and a TD in the fourth quarter and overtime, and received an 84.6 overall grade from PFF.
"You have to take care of the ball and I think he's done that," Garrett said this week about Jones. "Starting from about mid-season last year, he's done a great job taking care of the ball. He has made really good decisions, he's played decisively. I think he's getting a better understanding for what we're asking him to do, what defenses are trying to do to us and he's seeing the field and he's making a lot of good decisions. When things aren't there, he's made good decisions to get rid of the ball. Two or three times in the game the other day, maybe a rusher came free, or something didn't come up exactly like we wanted to, he used his feet, he threw the ball away, we went to the next down. So, I think that's a big sign of maturity and then he's been able to make more and more plays."
Jones has a great opportunity to keep it going this week. The Cowboys are averaging 315.3 passing yards allowed per game, while their nine passing touchdowns allowed are tied for 26th. Three different quarterbacks have topped the 300-yard mark against the Dallas defense, and the unit has also allowed multiple touchdowns in three of four games. Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs has been the one bright spot in the secondary, intercepting a league-high five passes this season. Diggs' performance has catapulted Dallas into an NFL-best eight interceptions.
"You've got to know where this guy is," head coach Joe Judge said about Diggs. "He's extremely aggressive, he's been very productive. You don't have the results that he's had by accident. This guy has obviously really taken a step forward as a player this year, learned from some things in the past. He's very, very aggressive, he's got great ball skills, he's got great instincts on when to break on the ball and when to undercut the receiver going across the middle."
SAQUON IN THE PASSING GAME
Jones wasn't the only one to have his best game of the season last week. Saquon Barkley averaged 4.0 yards per carry and had 126 yards from scrimmage while scoring two touchdowns. Although he only rushed for 52 yards, Barkley made an impact in the passing game. The 24-year-old caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, scoring on a 52-yard pass from Jones. Over the last two weeks, Barkley has totaled 11 receptions for 117 yards and the score. The Giants will need the running back's skills in the passing game this weekend, as Dallas' run defense has performed well. The Cowboys are No. 6 in rushing yards allowed and tied for 5th with only two rushing scores allowed.
"It's important. The screen game gets your playmakers in space," Barkley said about the importance of the screen game to the offense. "It's big to set it up and have good relationships with the offensive linemen who's getting out there and the wide receivers who are blocking for you. We've been making some big plays on that. It kind of started against Atlanta. We were close, we were close, we were close, and we've still got so much more room to grow in that area of our game in my opinion."
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SPEED ON OFFENSE
The Week 4 win in New Orleans was the most action rookie Kadarius Toney has seen, and also served as John Ross' Giants debut. It is no coincidence that it also was the offense's strongest overall performance this season. Both receivers are talented playmakers who bring tremendous speed to the offense. Not only do they provide Jones with several options as deep threats, but they also help open up the field for the rest of the offense. Defenses must respect their speed on the deep ball, which brings fewer defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. Jones just needs to get the ball in their hands and watch the two make defenders miss, which brings an element to the offense that the Giants have not had in a long time.
"The essence of offensive football is attacking different ways," said Garrett. "We've talked about this a lot, it starts with running pass, and if you can throw it to different guys and hand it to different guys and just simply attack them – whether it's tempo or personnel or formation use or movements. Whatever those things are. So, when you add those guys – Kadarius and John and they've proved they can be effective and make big plays down the field, that certainly gets the defense's attention. That opens up opportunities for other people."
DAK AGAINST BIG BLUE
Dak Prescott has had a lot of success going up against the Giants throughout this career. In nine games, Prescott is 7-2 with 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions and an average of 263 passing yards per game. The yards and touchdowns are the most he has against any team.
"He looks really good," defensive back Logan Ryan said about Prescott. "He looks healthy, which is great, and he looks like he's operating as one of the best quarterbacks in football with just how they're moving the ball and the command he has – great command at the line of scrimmage… Dak's one of the best right now, so we want to play against him and we want to play well. He's a great challenge."
Prescott suffered his ankle injury on a tackle by Ryan and the two have maintained a close relationship over the last year, with the veteran defensive back supporting Prescott through the rehab process. Giants Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett guided Prescott with the Cowboys for the first four years of the quarterback's career, so seeing the injury was especially difficult for him.
"It was a really tough moment for me and really for anybody who's been around him," Garrett said this week. "Dak's a special guy. I have a great relationship with him, a great friendship with him and he's someone who's made my life significantly better. When you see a guy like that who you're competing against, go down and you know it's a serious injury, the human side of everybody comes out. No one wants to see injuries in this game. Nobody wants to see injuries to people they love and care about. That was not an easy moment for me or for anybody who was close to him."
SLOWING DOWN ZEKE, POLLARD
The Cowboys' offense enters this game ranked fourth in points and third in yards, and a big part of that has been the success of the run game. Two-time All-Pro back Ezekiel Elliott has gotten off to a tremendous start, running for 342 yards on 64 carries (5.3 avg.) with four touchdowns. In last week's win over the Panthers, Elliott averaged 7.2 yards per carry, taking 20 attempts for 143 yards and a touchdown.
"He's a good player, he sees it all, the way he presses the line of scrimmage and makes his cuts," Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham said of the halfback. "You have to be decisive. He's truly one of 32 when you talk about that. This guy who knows how to carry the ball. He knows how to manipulate his blockers or use his blockers the right way. He can see. He can see the backside. If he's running frontside, he can see the backside if you overlap too much and he's cutting back there. I think he's pretty dynamic. The thing I'm noticing about him is how hard he's running. He's doing a good job of getting the extra yards like he always has, but he's a good player."
As great as Elliott has been, he may not even Dallas' most efficient runner. Tony Pollard has not gotten as many touches out of the backfield as Elliott, but has been more productive. Pollard has 37 rush attempts for 250 yards, good for an average of 6.8 yards per carry, and a touchdown. He took 10 carries for 67 yards in Week 4, helping the two backs combine for 210 yards on the ground.
MATCHING UP AGAINST DALLAS PLAYMAKERS
Dallas has playmakers all over its offense, but the group is sparked by the unit's two talented wide receivers. Amari Cooper leads the Cowboys with 22 receptions for 258 yards and three touchdowns, while CeeDee Lamb has 20 receptions for 264 yards and a score.
"How do you slow them down? Mix of coverages, mix of affecting the quarterback, but the thing about them is they're moving those guys around, whether they're in the slot, they're out, number 1," Graham said. "I think one thing that can help us is making sure (we) take care of the deep part of the field, maybe get some hits on them when they're down at the line of scrimmage but keep changing it up on them. They're pretty dynamic, they're pretty dynamic players, so we've got a challenge ahead of us."
The third-leading receiver in the Dallas offense is fourth-year tight end Dalton Schultz. Schultz has caught 20 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He has caught 6+ passes in three of four games, while totaling 45+ receiving yards in all three of those contests. The tight end has earned an elite 89.8 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, including a solid 72.6 pass block grade. Prescott has been sacked six times in four games, as Schultz and the play of the offensive line has helped keep the quarterback upright.
"Schultz has really shown up big in key situations, been a very productive player," Judge said. "I think their offensive line this year is playing at an extremely high level. I think we all know about how talented that line has been over the course of the last decade-plus and they just keep on rolling with those guys. That's really helping their run game and their pass game."