Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks for everything that people have in their lives. So the Dallas Cowboys are hoping to be thankful for a victory Thursday against the hated New York Giants.
The game Thursday has a different feel from their early season matchup, where the Cowboys sealed a 23-16 victory over the Giants thanks to a Trevon Diggs interception late in the fourth quarter. At the time, Cooper Rush ran the show at quarterback and produced a fourth-quarter touchdown to CeeDee Lamb to give and keep the lead. Tony Pollard ran for over 100 yards, while Daniel Jones was sacked by the Cowboys five times.
What’s different this time is that the Cowboys and Giants have been identified as two of the top five teams in the NFC and still within striking distance of the NFC Division title. There weren’t many believers in either team. The Giants’ past failures caused doubt, and the Cowboys without Dak Prescott had fans concerned. Now both teams look like they could be contenders in the NFC.
The Cowboys are coming into the game with a ton of confidence after blowing out the Vikings. Dak Prescott had his best game of the season, and the offense was clicking on all cylinders because of their well-balanced offensive attack. Their defense didn’t do wrong either, as they got seven sacks and allowed 183 of total offense.
On the other side, the New York Giants are coming off a disappointing 31-18 loss to the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium. Despite Daniel Jones throwing for over 300 yards, he still had two interceptions that hurt the team. In addition, Saquan Barkley was a non-factor in the game, as he only ran for 22 yards in the loss. Their defense played well against the pass, but Jamal Williams recorded three rushing touchdowns and was automatic in the red zone.
It’s a critical game for both teams as they look to keep pace with the Philadelphia Eagles in the division. A loss by either team could set them back to ensuring a fight for a wild card spot, and winning this game could seal their fate for a place in the playoffs.
Tony Pollard Needs To Be The Cowboys’ Featured Back
Even with the return of Ezekiel Elliott to the lineup, it was still the Tony Pollard show in the backfield, as he ran for 80 yards and caught for over 100 yards with two receiving touchdowns. It was no doubt one of the best performances of Pollard’s career and a statement showing. How he played led the Cowboys and how he needs to be more involved in the offense.
Elliott is an excellent ground-and-pound back who gets the tough 3-4 yards when needed. Dallas knows someone like Pollard needs to have open space and be moved around in the offense to showcase his versatility. Pollard leads the team in rushing yards (701), average yards per carry (5.9), and rushing touchdowns (six).
He’s also fourth in receiving yards with 243 yards and second in touchdown receptions with two.
Pollard is a logistical nightmare for the Giants as they figure out how to stop him. He is on a hot streak and can’t be eliminated. New York’s defense must figure out how to slow him down enough to stay in line with Dallas.
Pressuring Daniel Jones As Often As Possible
The Cowboys continue their dominance with their defense as they lead the lead in sacks with 42 on the season. Seven of them came against the Minnesota Vikings. Micah Parsons led the way with ten sacks, with Dorance Armstrong behind him with seven. DeMarcus Lawrence and Dante Fowler Jr. each have over five sacks.
What helps the Cowboys out is the different looks they give to their defenders and how they show up in different positions. Parsons is a prime example of someone who will sometimes line up as a defensive end but could be an outside linebacker to drop back into coverage. Donovan Wilson is another example of lining up as a safety but can come off the edge as an outside linebacker.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has shown his genius by cleverly designing defensive plays to confuse the defense. Multiple players on this defense can disguise themselves in different positions. As a result, offenses never know what kind of look they will get because of the sheer versatility of many of the Cowboys’ defenders.
One primary key to the game is constantly pressuring Daniel Jones. It worked in week three as Parsons commanded double teams, which opened it up for Lawrence, who got three sacks in the game. The Giants have the unfortunate problem of Dallas having too many pass rushers to defend, so no matter what, someone will get loose and knock down Jones.
Can The Cowboys Stop the Giants’ Running Game?
A lot has been made about the Cowboys and their inability to stop the run efficiently. Green Bay had a field day running the ball for 200 yards on Dallas. The biggest challenge for Dallas on Thursday is they have to face one of the leading rushers in the NFL: Saquan Barkley.
Barkley has been spectacular this season as he is pacing for the best year in his career. So far this season, he has run for 953 yards and six touchdowns while producing 210 receiving yards. As long as Barkley stays healthy, he is always a threat in the backfield despite having a season-low 22 yards against Detroit Sunday.
Not to mention New York has Daniel Jones, who has been one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the league. He ran for a career-high 437 yards and four touchdowns in ten games. New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll has done a great job realizing the untapped potential of Jones on the ground and has used it as another weapon on the offense.
The game will be one of the top rushing offenses the Cowboys will face this season. Dallas is the ninth-worst defense in the league in rushing yards allowed this season, with 1,361. If the Cowboys don’t want to make this a close game, stopping the run will go a long way in winning. Forcing Jones to pass multiple times kills what the Giants do offensively and gives Dallas the advantage in celebrating a much-needed win with turkey legs.