Game preview: Dallas at New York Giants

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI/Shutterstock (12423902c) Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliot prior to the Miami Dolphins NFL game AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, September 22, 2019. NFL Cowboys Dolphins, Arlington, Texas, United States – 22 Sep 2019

Game preview: Dallas at New York Giants


Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at New York Giants (2-0)

Game time: Monday, 7:15 p.m. CST

TV/radio: ABC, ESPN, ESPN+ / SiriusXM NFL, KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan, KVMK-FM 107.5 La Grande

What’s at stake: A win, or loss, will set the tone early in the battle for the NFC East title this season. The Cowboys rebounded from an ugly loss to Tampa Bay to open the season with a win over the AFC Champion Bengals last week. Without starting quarterback Dak Prescott for the second straight week, the Cowboys will once again rely on the right arm of Cooper Rush. Rush can make it 3-0 as a starter with a Cowboys’ road win on Monday night. A loss and the Cowboys will be in an early hole in the division, with games against Washington and Philadelphia coming up over the next three weeks.

When the Cowboys have the ball: This should be the week the Cowboys running game comes to life. The Giants are giving up over 119 yards rushing per game in the first two weeks of the season. Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott, who has not had a 100-yard outing in his last 14 games played dating back to Week 5 of last season, is averaging 4.2 yards per rush this season, while RB Tony Pollard has gone for 3.4 yards per rush on just 15 carries this season. The ground game will be key, as the Giants are giving up less than 200 yards through the air per game this season.

When the Giants have the ball: Running back Saquon Barkley is off to a fast start, leading the league in rushing with 236 yards in the first two games. For the Giants to improve to 3-0, they will need another big game from Barkley, because the passing game is suspect. Daniel Jones is a third-year starter at quarterback, but he is throwing to Sterling Shepherd and really nobody else. If the Cowboys shut down the run game, then it could be a long day for the Giants.

Key Cowboys to watch:

S Donovan Wilson – There may be no harder hitting safety in the NFL than Wilson. He is second in tackles with 13, while playing 121 of a possible 132 snaps this season, which is second most on the team behind only defensive backs Anthony Brown and Trevon Diggs.

DT Osa Odighizuwa – if the Cowboys want to have a big day on defense, then they will need Odighizuwa to be his usual run-stuffing self all day against the interior of the Giants and a running game that features Saquon Barkley. Odighizuwa, who regularly occupies double teams from the middle of the opponent’s offensive line, has played over half the snaps this season, the most from any Cowboys’ interior defensive lineman.

K Brett Maher – Perfect through two weeks. After putting up the only points on a 51-yard field goal for the Cowboys in Week 1, Maher was the hero in the Week 2 win. Maher, who is 3-for-3 on the season, kicked a 54-yard FG to end the scoring in the first half and then followed that up with a 50-yard boot for the lead as the game ended. Maher connected on his only extra-point attempt as well.

TE Jake Ferguson – The rookie fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin will likely be asked to play a big role in just the third game of his career. Ferguson who played just 11 snaps in the season opener, saw his workload triple to 34 plays in Week 2. And despite having no catches at this point in the season, the play count should increase with an injury to starter Dalton Schultz that could keep him out against New York.

The bottom line: The Cowboys need to build on what they accomplished last week in their win over AFC Champion Cincinnati if they want to stay ahead of their NFC East rivals. Another shutdown performance from the defense will again be the recipe for success, as the Cowboys will be without some prominent players on Monday night, including starting quarterback Dak Prescott and safety Jayron Kearse, the quarterback of the defense.

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