DALLAS — Another week, another big game for the Dallas Cowboys. Beating a 1-3 team might not seem like a daunting task for Dallas, who have stood out as one of the better teams thus far, but there are a few things that could make the game against the New York Giants a challenge.
Despite their actual record, the Giants could have easily come into Sunday’s contest at 3-1. New York lost their Week 2 & 3 matchups by just four points combined before they finally earned their first win of the season with an impressive victory on the road in New Orleans last week.
It’s also a division game, where it’s even tougher to get a win. If the Cowboys can beat the Giants in Week 5, they’ll start the season at 2-0 in the NFC East, which will give them a leg up on the rest of their rivals in the division. So, yes, despite the early discrepancy in the standings, it’s a big game.
Here are some keys to beating the Giants and extending their winning streak to four games:
Keep Daniel Jones on his toes
Jones hadn’t performed well since the Giants drafted him sixth overall in the 2019 draft, but he has turned things around early this season. Jones is currently rated as one of the better passers in the league through the first four weeks in 2021.
The former Duke standout also had arguably the best game of his career in the win over the Saints last week, throwing for 402 yards and two scores. The third-year signal caller also leads the Giants with 177 yards rushing, so he will use his legs to move the ball and make big plays outside the pocket.
However, Jones can be rattled under pressure and the Giants offensive line doesn’t handle the blitz well. If the Cowboys can pressure Jones and force him into mistakes, they will have a leg up.
Jones also tends to hold onto the football too long and has lost 18 fumbles in 31 games. If the defense hits Jones, he’s prone to putting the ball on the ground.
Slow down Saquon Barkley
The Cowboys rank sixth in the NFL at stopping the run, giving up just 81 yards per game. However, they haven’t faced a running back so far with the skills that Barkley possesses.
Barkley got out of the gates slow due to returning from an ACL tear, but the Giants have ramped up his touches, and he’s responded by ramping up his production. After totaling just 96 yards and no touchdowns in his first two games of the season, Barkley has 220 yards of offense and three scores in the last two weeks.
Attack the middle of the Giants
The Giants lost their best LB, Blake Martinez, for the year with an ACL tear that he suffered in Week 3. Linebacker is a position where the Giants don’t have much depth or great talent, so the Cowboys must attack the middle of the field to move the ball.
History tells us the Cowboys can use their tight ends to expose the Giants' weakness and Dallas has two strong options in Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin. Schultz has been playing well, with three scores in his last two games, but Jarwin has crushed the Giants in recent meetings.
It doesn’t matter which TE has a big game, or if other weapons find success in the middle of the field, but the Cowboys’ offense has a mismatch to exploit against New York.
Pound the rock, again
The Cowboys have been running the ball well since Week 2. Following the season-opening loss, Dallas is averaging 201 yards per game on the ground with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. With the offensive line winning in the trenches, and the threats that the Cowboys have on the outside, the rushing attack is open to dominate.
The Giants are giving up 122.8 yards per contest on the ground this season and have allowed two 100-yard rushers in four games. If the Cowboys can run it effectively again, the Giants will have a difficult time stopping Dallas’ offense.
Do you see the Cowboys grabbing a fourth consecutive victory as they take on New York? Share your predictions with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.