Here's everything you need to know about the Week 9 Monday Night Football matchup between the Giants and Cowboys:
1. Are you ready for some football? The New York Giants (2-6) will look to break a four-game losing streak when the Dallas Cowboys (4-3) come to town in Week 9. The NFC East rivals will meet on Monday Night Football for the first time since 2010, when Big Blue traveled to Dallas and left with a victory. It will be the first time the Giants have hosted the Cowboys on Monday night since a 2003 overtime loss.
The Cowboys are on extra rest after they sat idle in Week 8. They entered their bye with a 37-10 victory over Philadelphia, which ended a three-game skid and elevated the defending division champion above .500 on the season. Dallas took the first leg of the season series, defeating the Giants, 35-17, in the season opener.
2. Shepard to continue in concussion protocol. The Giants announced Sunday that wide receiver Sterling Shepard will not play in Monday night's game against Dallas.
"He practiced fully this week and was limited with no contact the two weeks before that," said coach Pat Shurmur. "He told (Sr. VP Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) last evening (Saturday) he didn't feel well and was sent for examination and evaluation. When he arrived for work this morning, he still did not feel well. At that point, the decision was made to continue in the concussion protocol."
Shepard has missed the past three games after suffering a concussion vs. Minnesota on Oct. 6. He was cleared from the protocol on Friday afternoon after an appointment with the independent neurological consultant.
The concussion suffered in the Minnesota game was Shepard's second of the season. He originally complained of concussion symptoms following the season-opener in Dallas. He was then placed in the protocol and missed the following week's game against Buffalo. He was cleared from the protocol on Friday, Sept. 20 and returned to game action that Sunday at Tampa Bay.
3. Injury report. Cornerbacks Corey Ballentine (cleared concussion protocol) and Grant Haley (knee) practiced fully all week. For the Cowboys, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming (calf) was ruled out. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and cornerback Anthony Brown (hamstring) are questionable.
4. Leonard Williams set for Giants debut. A week after the Giants signed hybrid linebacker Deone Bucannon, the team acquired defensive lineman Leonard Williams in a trade with the Jets, who received a 2020 third-round selection and a 2021 fifth-round selection that could become a fourth. Like Bucannon, who had one solo tackle in his 11 defensive snaps in his Giants debut, Williams is expected to play right away and fit into the rotation.
Originally the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams has never missed a game in his NFL career. He started 70 of 71 career games for the Jets and recorded 240 tackles (32 for loss), 90 quarterback hits, 17 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. Last season, Williams was just one of five 3-4 defensive linemen with at least 20 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for loss. The others were J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell, DeForest Buckner and Chris Jones.
"Our goal is to sign him long-term," general manager Dave Gettleman said in a communication first shared directly with New York Giants season ticket holders. "He's only 25-years-old. And obviously talented. He's a piece you can build around."
5. Cowboys first on offense. The Cowboys offense enters Week 9 ranked No. 1 in yards per game (437.9), third down conversion rate (51.9), yards per play (6.71), third-and-long (more than six yards) conversion rate (35.5), and third-and-10+ conversion rate (31.3).
6. Big plays a giant emphasis on defense. Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher was asked this week what has disappointed him the most this season. "The explosive plays, for sure," he said. Bettcher is very "aware" his defense has given up the second-most plays of 20+ yards in the NFL, and so are his players.
"The explosive plays [are most disappointing] because you change two explosive plays a game or one explosive play a game and then all those things that you're talking about, whatever those numbers are ranked, they all change," Bettcher said. "And it changes field position, and in close games, which we've played some close games, field position is points. Those have to continue to get erased. We all know that and there's no hiding that, there's no hiding the emphasis we're putting on it, there's no hiding the emphasis. We're trying as a coaching staff to take the ownership of what those things are and why they're happening."
7. Saquon vs. Zeke. Since entering the NFL in 2018, Barkley leads the league with 16 games of 100+ scrimmage yards, while Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey (a Gettleman draft pick in Carolina) are tied for second-most with 15. Barkley's 143 yards from scrimmage last week increased his career total to 2,562. He is the sixth player since 1950 to reach 2,500 scrimmage yards in his first 21 games or less, joining Edgerrin James, Eric Dickerson, Billy Sims, Ottis Anderson and, guess who, Elliott.
8. DJ vs. Dak. Last week, Daniel Jones joined Dak Prescott as the only rookie quarterbacks to have two games of at least 300 passing yards, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions in NFL history. Through the first eight weeks, 99 of 121 games (81.8 percent) have featured at least one quarterback under the age of 27, the most at this point in a season in league history. In total, quarterbacks under the age of 27 have started 130 games and recorded 69 wins (53.1 percent), both the most starts and wins by quarterbacks under the age of 27 through the first eight weeks of a season since at least 1970.
9. Young Slay. Darius Slayton, a fifth-round draft choice, last week became the first rookie receiver to catch two touchdown passes in a game since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. He now has three on the season (on just 16 catches) and averages 16.7 yards per reception. "The one thing I'll say about that, and the first thing I want to say is that he played just like he practiced last week," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "All week long, he was doing the same thing. He just got into the game and did a really good job. He's been impressive."
10. Throwbacks. The Giants will wear throwback uniforms Monday night of white shirts and pants with blue and red stripes, a "GIANTS" helmet decal instead of the familiar "ny," and white facemasks replacing the customary gray. Those uniforms were worn from 1980-99.
The Giants will break out their classic white throwback uniforms against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football
Giants vs. Cowboys Broadcast Info: TV channel, Radio Station and Live Stream.