Coaches Corner Pregame: Giants face divisional rivals Cowboys.

By Michael Stewart/@golferbad

Introduction: The New York Giants are riding a four game losing streak and this Monday night they will face the number one offensive team in the NFL in the Dallas Cowboys. This is not a miss print; the Cowboys are ranked #1 with 437.9 total yards per game and have a balanced offensive attack; ranking 3rd in passing (291.9) & 4th in rushing (146.0). The Cowboys three-headed monster in quarterback Dak Prescott (168/238 for 2123 yards and 12 touchdowns/102.6 QB rating) running back Ezekiel Elliott (602 rushing yards/176 receiving yards and 6 TDs) and Amari Cooper (38 receptions/621 yards and 5 TDS) are leading the way for the Cowboys as their currently leading the NFC east division with a 4-3 record. The Giants on the other hand have struggled thus far through their first 8 games as it’s the defensive side of the ball that has been their nemesis. The Giants have lost the last five meetings against the Cowboys with the most recent game being this season opener 35-17. In order for the Giants to have any chance of beating the Cowboys on Monday night; they must win in these 5 categories:

  1. Turnover Ratio: This has been a broken record on my end for the Giants as they have been horrible all season in securing the ball and creating turnovers. The Giants are currently a -9 on the year and have had a turnover in fourteen straight games; compared to the Cowboys who are even after seven games. Many of these turnovers have come from rookie quarterback Daniel Jones not being able the secure the ball in the pocket. Jones has done well overall, but this is the only area of concern and hopefully he can correct it.
  2. Giants Defensive Front 7-vs-Cowboys Offensive line: The Cowboys offensive line is arguably the best line in football as they open holes in the running game and have only allowed ten sacks on the year. The Giants run defense has given up 122.4 yards per game (22nd) and their pass defense is even worse at 264.4 (25th). The Giants recently acquired DE Leonard Williams from the New York Jets and he excels against the run. I expect Williams to see a lot of action in his 1st game as a Giant.
  3. 3rd Down Efficiency: The Giants are nearly at 40% in 3rd down efficiency as the Cowboys are leading the NFL at 51.9%. However; defensively the Cowboys are only allowing about a 25% conversion on 3rd down to the Giants 42.6%. The Giants must limit the Cowboys on 3rd down conversions and the best way to do that is to minimize their yardage on downs 1 and 2. If the Giants can somehow put the Cowboys in more 3rd and long situations; their chances of stopping them goes up. This will not be easy, but they need to find a way.
  4. Pressuring the Quarterback: The Giants currently have 22 sacks on the year; which averages to about 2.6 sacks per game. The Cowboys have only surrendered 10 sacks on the year; which averages out to only 1.3 per game. However; the Giants have surrendered 23 sacks (2.7) to the Cowboy 17 (defense), so this game could be decided by which team can put the most pressure on the quarterback.  
  5. Big Plays: The Giants have struggled in this category and the Cowboys have done well. The Giants secondary have been so inconsistent that they are still having miss assignments and blown coverage after eight games. The Cowboys will exploit this from start to finish and extend the field on the Giants secondary; which they did in their last game. As for the Giants, rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton is their only true deep threat and has been improving with the extra playing time. Running back Saquon Barkley had a solid game in his last meeting against the Cowboys, so expect him to get a lot of touches. Tight End Evan Engram and wide receiver Golden Tate must also find a way to make big plays. The availability of WR Sterling Shepard is still unknown at the time this article was written.

Final Thoughts:  The NFC east is the weakest division in the NFC and despite sitting in 3rd place (Washington in last place), the Giants could play spoiler with a win. The final score in the last meeting was Cowboys 35-Giants 17, so I expect to see roughly the same point totals as the Giants are currently 7 point underdogs and expect that number to go up by the weekend. Like every divisional rivalry I expect to see a very physical game between these two teams and a lot ton of emotions. I also believe the Giants will play hard from start to finish, but in the end will falter to the hands of a well rested and more talented Dallas Cowboy team.

Final Score: Cowboys-31/Giants-16

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