EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) It's time for the New York Giants to ignore all the hype that's come with their first 2-0 start since 2016.
After five straight losing seasons, it's easy to understand why Giants' fans are going bonkers about a team that beat Tennessee and Carolina under new coach Brian Daboll.
New York has not been to the playoffs since 2016. It hasn't started a season 3-0 since 2009. Oddsmakers at FanDuel Sportsbook even have made the Giants, who were 4-13 last season, a 2 1/2-point favorite against the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys on Monday, Sept. 26.
Forget that the Cowboys have beaten the Giants nine of the last 10 games. Many think they are not the same team with Dak Prescott hurt and Cooper Rush at quarterback.
What's important to remember is the Giants just as easily might have been 0-2. They beat the Titans 21-20 with a late touchdown and 2-point conversion. Their three-point win over the Panthers was aided by six gift points early following Carolina turnovers.
Safety Julian Love, whose sack of Baker Mayfield late in the fourth quarter ended the Panthers' final drive, said Monday that nothing has changed. The Giants went over what they did wrong against Carolina and started preparations for Dallas.
''I think coach Dabs has done a great job of emphasizing what's important,'' Love said. ''He harped on it today with us. As a team we understand we've won two games. I know it, it's a little different than it has been the past few years, but at the end of the day, it's two games. And we want to, you know, stack and go 1-0 next week.''
The Giants will have a chance to do that but there are going to be obstacles. Dallas has an explosive offense and its defense has given the Giants problems in recent years.
This game should show whether the Giants can focus on football and remain competitive. If they can do that, they'll have a shot.
With starters outside linebackers Azeez Ojulari (calf) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) out the first two games, Oshane Ximines has stepped up. The 2019 third-round pick had two tackles, a pass defense, a quarterback hurry and one of the Giants' two sacks of Baker Mayfield on Sunday. For the season, he has eight tackles, a sack, two passes defended and three QB hurries.
Ximines spent most of last year in the doghouse. He has responded to the coaching changes and helped himself in the offseason by lifting weights with Ojulari in Georgia.
Kenny Golladay might be at rock bottom. The wide receiver who signed a four-year, $72 million contract was on the field for two plays. Daboll said he told the veteran he was not going to have a big part in the game plan because David Sills was being given his role.
With Golladay earning a base salary of $13 million, he got paid $722,222 for a week of practice, preparation and two plays, or $361,111 a play.
Top defensive lineman Leonard Williams hurt a knee in the third quarter and left the game. He didn't think it was serious after the game. That's what Thibodeaux said after hurting his knee in the preseason finale. He has yet to play. Expect Williams to miss a couple of games.
39: The point differential between the Cowboys and Giants after Dallas won both regular-season games last season. And the Giants are favored?
The only step for the Giants is to follow the same formula as the past two weeks: Play hard and protect the ball. New York has turned the ball over twice this season, both in the first game against Tennessee. Daniel Jones is 39 of 55 for 364 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His quarterback rating is 99.4. Wink Martindale's defense is giving up an average of 18 points. Keep that up and New York will have a chance every game.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL