As faint playoff hopes remain, the Dallas Cowboys take a trip to New York to play a Giants in yet another must win. Here’s what to watch for in round two.
It is amazing what a world of difference a couple of months can make.
While the New York Giants season of misery has continued along the same path, no one would have thought Dallas would struggle too. In week one, the Dallas Cowboys put together a dominating defensive performance en route to a 19-3 victory.
Dallas allowed just 233 yards and 13 first downs while sacking quarterback Eli Manning three times and intercepting a pass.
Unfortunately, the yards and first downs would prove to be the lowest totals this defense would give up all year. Consistency and solid play have been missing ever since.
The Cowboys defense is currently 21st in total yards and passing yards, 20th in scoring defense and 12th in rushing yards. No will confuse this defense with the ’85 Bears or ’00 Ravens or ’02 Buccaneers.
Luckily for the Cowboys, they just so happen to face one of the league’s worst offensive teams.
The Giants, playing out their remaining schedule and already on their second head coach of the year may be the elixir the Dallas defense needs. New York is one of the six worst teams in total offense, rushing offense and scoring.
How the Cowboys defense fares on the road in another must win divisional matchup leads off what to watch for.
- Dallas could have as many as eight new starters defensively from the victory on opening day. Stephen Paea has retired. Nolan Carroll was cut. Orlando Scandrick is injured. Jaylon Smith will likely not start unless Sean Lee cannot go. Meanwhile Benson Mayowa, Jeff Heath and Byron Jones may all come off the bench.
One player who was part of the victory and made his return last week is Chidobe Awuzie. Awuzie had the second best opening day performance for any 2017 draftee at his position in Week one. Last week he picked up where he left off with an impressive outing against Washington. Look for Awuzie to keep a weak Giants receiving corps at bay this week as well.
- Staying with this theme, it’s not looking good for David Irving’s availability. Irving has missed practice all week due to a concussion. That’s a significant blow to the defensive line as Irving has been the second best player there behind DeMarcus Lawrence in 2017.
Even though the Giants have an atrocious offensive line, missing a player of Irving’s caliber will allow the Giants to focus more on Lawrence. If the Cowboys are to be successful, they will need to have at least three sacks.
In the Cowboys six wins, Dallas has a total of 24 sacks, posting four games with four or more. In their six losses, the Cowboys have just 8 sacks, with four games of less than one. Without Irving, others must step up.
- Another guy who needs to improve is quarterback Dak Prescott. Even in last week’s win, his performance left a lot to be desired. Last year the Giants really got to him as Prescott had ratings of 69.4 and 45.4 in two losses.
In the week one opener, his numbers were not jaw-dropping but the 90.5 passer rating was light years better than last year’s efforts. Prescott took just one sack and did not turn the ball over while leading Dallas on five drives that produced points.
Dallas needs more from Dak with the season in the balance. In his last four games, Prescott has just 502 total passing yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Clearly he has been in decline without Ezekiel Elliott behind him but with no room for error, Prescott needs to be better.
It is evident that the Dallas Cowboys are the better team with more to lose here. That desperation alone should provide all the necessary motivation to do what is necessary. The Giants certainly can win this game but have no business doing so.