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10 things to watch in Giants vs. Cowboys



With Sunday's win, the Giants were able to jump out to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2016. This week the Giants hope to win a third straight game to start the season, a feat the franchise has not been able to accomplish since 2009 (when the team started 5-0). Despite this week's game occurring in primetime, Daboll is making sure his team stays focused on the task at hand. 

"Playing on Monday night is always special, but the things that help you win a game on Sunday at one o'clock are the things that help you win a game on Monday," the head coach said earlier this week. "And I think that's where our focus needs to be is there's plenty of things that we needed to correct from Week 2, from Week 1. You're always evaluating where you're at as a team, whether it's after a loss, after a win. You're doing research on scheduling, making adjustments. You never want to come out and say, 'Well, we weren't prepared in that regard.' We're working hard to keep improving as an organization all the way around. We look forward to playing on Monday night and trying to build off on some of the things we did well and improve on the things we haven't done well."

Heading into Week 3, the Giants are one of just six teams able to start the season with two wins. Joining them are the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. Since 1990, 63.0 percent of teams starting 2-0 have gone to the postseason, while that number jumps up to 74.4 percent for teams that start the year 3-0. Monday's game also represents the team's first time playing in prime time this season. The Giants have lost 10 consecutive games under the lights dating to Week 10 of the 2018 season, when they defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 27-23, on Monday Night Football.


The Giants and Cowboys have played 120 times since 1960. Dallas leads the all-time series, 71-47-2. The Cowboys won both games last season, with the Giants' last victory in the series occurring in Week 17 of the 2020 campaign. This matchup will serve as Brian Daboll's first against the Cowboys as head coach. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has faced the Giants 13 times between his stints with the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.




Out: CB Justin Layne (concussion), CB Nick McCloud (hamstring), CB Aaron Robinson (appendix), WR Wan'Dale Robinson (knee)

Doubtful: WR Kadarius Toney (hamstring), DL Leonard Williams (knee)

Questionable: OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf), OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee)


Out: S Jayron Kease (knee), G Connor McGovern (ankle), QB Dak Prescott (right thumb)

Questionable: DT Quinton Bohanna (neck), WR Michael Gallup (knee), LB Micah Parsons (illness), TE Dalton Schultz (knee)


The Giants have been without their two starting outside linebackers for the first two games of the season, as Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) and Azeez Ojulari (calf) have been working their way back from injuries. The two have been participating in team drills this week and are listed as questionable on the final injury report, but both sound optimistic about a possible return against the Cowboys.

"Today (I) had a lot of progress," Thibodeaux said on Wednesday. "Was able to open it up and do a lot of things. So yeah, today I'm definitely confident."

"I'm definitely confident, for sure," Ojulari added. "Just thanks to the training staff and strength staff for getting me back in. (I'm) taking it day-by-day every day, getting treatment and feeling better."

Meanwhile, defensive lineman Leonard Williams suffered a knee injury during last week's win over Carolina and is in jeopardy of missing the first game of his NFL career. The Giants listed Williams as doubtful for Monday's game.

"Leo's rehabbing," Daboll told the media on Wednesday. "Again, Leo's a quick healer. He tells me he's a quick healer. So, I'm not going to put it past Leo to be ready to go. Would it shock me either way? No. But he'll stay in; he'll get treatment today during practice, so you guys know. I that's the best thing for him."

Whether or not Williams is able to play, the Giants defense will lean on fellow defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence against the Cowboys. Lawrence, voted a team captain for the first time in 2022, has impressed his defensive coordinator this season.

"He's maybe one of my most favorite players that I've ever been around in my life," said Wink Martindale. "He's a great guy first of all – a great person. And he's a problem. I mean, he is athletic. And I'm glad you brought that up because that play – I told the whole defense on Monday – the play where he chased (Panthers quarterback) Baker Mayfield down and got him short of the sticks on that scramble, I don't know (if) in my career I've ever seen a big man like that make a play like that. And that's the kind of effort and leadership that he brings to the defense."


Wink Martindale called for Giants fans to bring the noise in the home opener against the Panthers last week. The Big Blue faithful obliged, as the defense was provided a big boost on every third down with the crowd as loud as they were. The fans' effort played a role in the Giants' defense holding Carolina to only two third-down conversions on 12 attempts, something even Panthers head coach Matt Rhule acknowledged as being a factor.

With the home opener now in the rearview mirror, the attention turns towards this week's divisional matchup. The team will be wearing the white color rush uniforms on Monday, and are asking fans to join them in wearing all white to create a "white out" in the stands for the primetime NFC East showdown.

"When I say they make a difference, they make a difference," Martindale said about the fans. "It was already quoted from Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers Head Coach) about how they had a hard time communicating, and I think the biggest thing is the challenge I give the fans this week is I told the players from Week 1 to Week 2 is the biggest jump in the NFL of your performance. So, we expect it to be rocking. I heard it's a white out, so I'll wear my white sleeves, I guess. And it should be like an avalanche once they get in that stadium. But it was a great environment, and it's going to do nothing but get better because the fans definitely held up their end of the bargain. And it helps us immensely on defense when they have to go to their silent count and everything else. That should be the goal every time."


Monday's game marks the team's first NFC East matchup of the season. It will be important for the Giants to pick up a victory this week, as it will serve as the only opportunity they have to show what they can do in the division for a while. Following this week's game against Dallas, Brian Daboll's squad will not face another divisional opponent until Week 12, when they take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

"For me it's just, it's the biggest game because it's the next game," Saquon Barkley said. "That's the mentality that I kind of always have. It was instilled in me in college. Obviously, I had a little more success in college than the first couple of years in the league. Never get too hyped over a game, just got to come in continuing to love the process, enjoy the process and do what we can to try and get a win."

The Giants will wear their all-white Color Rush uniforms on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.


In each of the first two games of the season, the Giants needed late comebacks in order to pick up victories. The offense gained only 50 yards, three first downs and six points in the first half against the Panthers last week, and were shut out by the Titans in the season opener. 

"That's an important part of the game for us is trying to get off for a fast start," Daboll said on Monday. "That doesn't always happen. The last two games are the only two games to go by in terms of the regular season. So, we'll continue to work at that and put together some good openers. It takes everybody – the coaching, the playing – everybody. And it's something we'll work on…

"I think we go into the week and the game trying to put together the best plan we can. And I think the offensive coaches do a really good job. Again, we haven't had the results that we're hoping for, but I believe in the process and the preparation that those guys do. We'll continue to try to do a better job at that."

A big part of starting fast will be getting Barkley going early. Through the first two games, Barkley has rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries (4.1 avg.) in the first half, including only three yards on the ground against Carolina. But his numbers jump up to an impressive 191 yards on 28 attempts (6.8 avg.) in the second half. Coincidence or not, 34 of the team's 40 total points have also come in the second half. Establishing the run early should help the Giants jump out to a faster start against Dallas, who rank 19th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (120.5).


The Cowboys' defense starts with All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons. Last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year is off to another stellar start in 2022 with four sacks in the first two games. The talented second-year linebacker has added seven quarterback hits to his season stats while his 92.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus is the second-highest of any NFL player this season (Kansas City Chiefs DL Chris Jones leads the league at 92.5).

"He's a problem," Daboll told the media. "He's a dynamic football player. And he can play multiple spots. He does. You'll see him at linebacker; you'll see him at defensive end. He has rare pass-rush ability. We're going to have to have a good plan for him. He's fun to watch when you're not getting ready to play him. I'll give him that compliment. He just does things that are pretty impressive on the football field... 

"I've seen him play in a variety of spots. He plays in the stack behind a loaded-up box. He'll play on one –. We have to know obviously where he's at. But our tackles are going to have to do a good job, too. You can't chip him or ... You can't do it on every single play. I think that's the beauty of where they move him around. I think (Dallas defensive coordinator Dan) Coach Quinn does a great job with his scheme. He's a dynamic player."

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is another player who cannot be overlooked. The veteran missed 10 games last season due to injury, but came back to register three sacks over the final six games. In 13 career games against the Giants, Lawrence has seven sacks and four forced fumbles. Third-year cornerback Trevon Diggs is also coming off a season in which he led the NFL with 11 interceptions and was named All-Pro.

Andrew Thomas will play a crucial role in slowing down the talented pass rushing duo. Thomas took a step in his development from Year 1 to 2. Now through the first two games of Year 3, Thomas has taken an even bigger leap. The 23-year-old has yet to surrender a sack, which has aided in his 89.1 overall PFF grade, the highest among all offensive linemen. The biggest improvement in Thomas' game has been his run blocking, as his 88.3 grade on 57 run snaps is the second-highest among offensive linemen. Rookie right tackle Evan Neal also saw an improvement from Week 1 to 2. Neal received a very solid 73.9 pass block grade in the win over the Panthers, which helped raise his season grade to 67.3. This is the second-highest pass block grade among the team's offensive linemen and the highest among rookie tackles.


Despite gaining just 178 yards on the ground this season, the rushing attack of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard cannot be overlooked. Elliott is averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 25 attempts, while Pollard had a 4.8 avg. in last week's win over Cincinnati. Both backs have shown the ability to break out a huge run throughout their careers, and Martindale knows just how talented the duo truly is. 

"First of all it's very difficult for the defense when you have two running backs of their caliber – especially when they're out there on the field at the same time," Martindale said Thursday. "But either one of them could be Pro Bowl running backs. They basically have very similar skillset. I've always said going against Zeke that once he gets his shoulders squared and he starts heading downfield, he's a problem. You better be ready to come tackling. So, it's going to be another one of those games where we got to tighten up our chinstraps and try to get 11 people the football."

With Prescott out in Week 2, the Cowboys relied on the run game more so than in the season opener. After registering 16 rushes between Elliott and Pollard in Week 1, that number jumped up to 24 this past week. Expect Dallas to lean heavily on their running backs on Monday night.


Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury in the season opener, which led to Cooper Rush starting under center in Week 2. As the Giants have learned in recent years, just because he is Dallas' backup quarterback does not mean he can be overlooked. Rush went 19 of 31 for 235 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, good for a passer rating of 95.5. The quarterback, who had a brief stint on the Giants practice squad in 2020, has impressed Martindale in his limited action.

"I see a guy that's a starting quarterback in this league," the defensive coordinator said about Rush. "Honestly, I do. And I made the comment just watching him and the decisions that he makes, I think he'll have a long career as a quarterback in this league, and then he'll be one of those cats that become an offensive coordinator and a head coach by the time he's 38 or 39. That's how it usually works."

The Cowboys enter this matchup with a talented group of offensive playmakers. Despite being off to a slow start this year, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb caught 79 passes for over 1,100 yards last season. Amari Cooper is now with the Browns, but it appears as if Dallas will be getting wide receiver Michael Gallup back for Monday's matchup. Gallup has caught 24 passes for 400 yards and a touchdown in seven career games against the Giants. The Cowboys' leading receiver through two games is Noah Brown, who caught five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals last week.

Adoree' Jackson has picked up where he left off last season, providing the secondary with solid, consistent play at outside corner. With Aaron Robinson still recovering from appendicitis, the defense will likely look to rookie Cor'Dale Flott and veteran Fabian Moreau to line up opposite Jackson and match up against Dallas' talented receivers.

"Cor'Dale has his best week of practice going into Carolina; and he started off well yesterday," said Martindale. "He had some cramping issues during the game. Once again, that's that rookie thing I was talking about with Dane Belton. They're breathing heavier and everything else because they're so excited about being out there to play. And then we put Fabe (Fabian Moreau) in there, and he did a great job as well. So, going forward, we'll see where we're at. We can still rotate them or do whatever we need to do. But I was pleased with both of them actually."

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

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