The Dallas Cowboys are resting a little easier this week, knowing they have a cushion in the race to win the NFC East. Beating the Washington Football Team in Week 14 gave them some breathing room, but the goals for the Cowboys are bigger than just winning the division.
Cementing their playoff spot, postseason seeding and getting the offense right are among the things the Cowboys need to work towards as they prepare for their Week 15 opponent. Another rival is on the schedule, the New York Giants, who Dallas thoroughly beat way back in Week 5.
On the surface, this looks like a game the Cowboys should win easily, the Giants aren’t very good, with the GM and possibly a coaching staff that won’t be back. Yet this game is rarely easy. The Giants have a lot of pride and they tend to show up for games against the NFC East teams. The Cowboys need to keep their focus and bring the same intensity they had last week.
Here are six things to know about the Giants ahead of the Week 15 game for the Cowboys.
They want revenge
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
The season might be long gone for the Giants, but they seem to play well every few weeks, and especially against their division rivals. In Week 12, the Giants beat the streaking Philadelphia Eagles 13-7 at home, which ironically helped the Cowboys.
However, there is no love lost between these teams. In the first meeting, there were fireworks during the game, which led to Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney throwing a punch at Cowboys safety Damontae Kazee, which prompted an ejection. According to the Giants, things escalated after the game.
New York contends that Dallas safety Jayron Kearse threw a punch at Giants tight end Evan Engram during the postgame handshakes. The Giants spoke after the game about not forgetting about it and vowed to handle it when the two teams met later in the season.
Jabrill Peppers on the Cowboys after Jayron Kearse’s postgame punch of Evan Engram:
“F*ck ’em. They hate us. We hate them.”
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 15, 2021
There has been no evidence the punch was thrown, and the NFL investigated the issue and found no punch, but the Giants continue to tell the tale. Now the game the Giants have been waiting for has arrived and they have extra motivation to beat the Cowboys.
Dallas needs to be prepared to match the intensity from the apparently fabricated fury of the Giants.
Giants have COVID and injury problems
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants are one of the teams caught in the COVID spike currently going around the league, currently with seven players on the reserved list, including cornerbacks Adoree Jacksonand Aaron Robinson and wideouts Kadarius Toney and John Ross.
It’s also a team currently dealing with injury woes, including starting quarterback Daniel Jones. A neck issue has kept Jones out of the last two games and will sideline him again for the contest against the Cowboys. One of the Giants’ best defenders, defensive tackle Leonard Williams, is also questionable to play with an elbow injury.
The Cowboys on the other hand have just one player, at the time of publishing this article, on the COVID list in WR Cedrick Wilson, after having their own outbreaks last month and at the end of training camp. DeMarcus Lawrence showed up on the injury report with a foot, but is expected to play. RB Tony Pollard has begun practicing again after missing last week’s game with a torn plantar fascia. Left tackle Tyron Smith will miss the contest with a re-aggravation of his ankle injury, but all in allthe Cowboys might be heading into the game with a health advantage over the Giants.
Dak Prescott dominates the Giants
(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Another week against the NFC East opponent, another team that Prescott shines against. In his career, Prescott is 8-2 against the Giants, which includes a loss in Prescott’s first career start in 2016, as well as the other matchup that season, winning eight straight.
Prescott has thrown more touchdowns against New York than any other team, tossing 20 scores and just five interceptions. Interestingly enough, Prescott has never run for a touchdown against the Giants but does have a touchdown catch that came in the infamous game in 2020 where he was lost for the season.
One of Prescott’s finest throws also came against the Giants, at the end of the 2018 season. The throw on the run to Cole Beasley for a 32-yard score to help win the game remains one of Prescott’s best highlights to date.
— ✭Izzy✭ (9-4)🎄🧑🏾🎄 (@eadyIofficial) December 15, 2021
Giants can be thrown on
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The passing game for the Cowboys has been in a slump and the Giants are coming off one of their worst performances of the season. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Hebert threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Giants in just over three quarters of work, while Dallas is coming out of a game where they struggled to move the ball through the air.
Prescott and the passing game can get back on track against a defense that has given up 23 scores through the air, the fourth worst total in the league. The Cowboys haven’t had three touchdowns through air since Week 6 against the New England Patriots, so perhaps the offense is due to throw it around the yard.
Jackson and Robinson have been the team’s two best corners as James Bradberry has allowed eight touchdowns and leads their defense with 11 missed tackles, per Pro Football Focus.
Top runner returning to form
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
In the first contest between the teams, the Giants star RB went down with a foot injury after just two carries. The injury knocked Barkley out for four games and since his return they’ve been slowly working him back in.
Against the Chargers last week, Barkley saw his highest number of carries (16), yards (64) since Week 3, and scored a touchdown through the air. The Giants might be ramping up the work for Barkley, who appears to be getting healthier each game.
Barkley missed practice early in the week, but that might have been more about management and preparing him for the Cowboys since he returned to practice for the Giants.
Saquon Barkley is back at practice for the Giants pic.twitter.com/smlJ5YY6d4
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) December 16, 2021
The Giants only rush for 94.2 yards a game but expect Dallas to see a strong dose of Barkley in Week 15. Meanwhile the Cowboys started off the season extremely strong against the run, but after failing to keep an opponent contained in the previous seven contests, gave up just 100 yards on the ground against Washington last week. It was their best effort since facing the Giants in Week 5.
Giants have one of the worst offenses in the NFL
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
If the Cowboys can get their offense near where they were early in the season, they should be able to win this game. The Giants will likely be playing with backup quarterback Mike Glennon or the practice-squad claimed Jake Fromm and field one of the worst offenses in the league.
The Giants rank 28th in points per game (17.8), 25th in total yards a game (312.4), and 26th in rushing. They have yet to have a 100-yard rusher and don’t have a receiving option inside the top 75 in receiving yards or top 84 in receptions.
New York has scored 21 touchdowns on the season and has kicked 25 field goals.
It’s a passing game that hasn’t been healthy but has also struggled to get good results. The Dallas defense has been very good of late and is one of the best teams in terms of creating takeaways in the league.
Top Teams according to DVOA through #NFL Week 14:
— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) December 14, 2021
The Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett a few weeks ago, but the move to Freddie Kitchens as play caller hasn’t improved their results at all. If the Cowboys can score points and get a lead, the Giants will be hard pressed to keep up with them with their offensive inefficiencies.