The Dallas Cowboys are coming into MetLife Stadium this Sunday night firmly at the top of the NFC playoff pyramid. A win over the Giants will clinch the NFC East with three weeks remaining in the 2016 regular season. Who woulda thunk that after losing Tony Romo in the preseason?
Not too many, I’m sure. At 11-1, The ‘Boys can also wrap up both a first round bye and hone field throughout the playoffs this weekend if they win and if one or both the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions lose or tie.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a radio interview that his club is not going to scale back their effort even if they clinch the whole magilla this Sunday against the Giants.
“I see us more business as usual,” Jones said on Tuesday, via 105.3 The Fan. “What it does allow you to do is when you’ve got guys on the fence with injury to not push them….You don’t want to take the edge off.”
What Jerry says in Dallas goes. Don’t expect head coach Jason Garrett to defy his bosses’ wishes. He will keep the train rolling as best he can. Dallas has won 11 games in row after losing, 20-19, on opening day to these Giants.
A victory this Sunday night would improve the Cowboys’ record to 12-1 for only the second time in franchise history. The first time was back in 2007, when they finished as the NFC’s top seed at 13-3 only to be knocked off by the Giants in the NFC Divisional round.
That game devastated Jones, who had already made plans to go to the Super Bowl. Instead, he watched the Giants, who played out the regular season at full tilt, go on to upset the undfeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That is the reason why Jones is taking nothing for granted this time around.
The surprising Cowboys are in new terrain this season. A win will give them their 12th straight win and establish the longest win streak, including combined regular seasons, in franchise history. It will also mark the first time in franchise history that they have started the season 0-1 and gone on to win the next 12 games. It has been done only one other time in NFL history and that was beofre the the NFL-AFL merger by the1969 Minnesota Vikings.
Garrett was asked about staving off complacency during the 11-game winning streak. They will have had a ten-day layoff by the time they kickoff vs the Giants Sunday night.
“We had a tough 12-day stretch there where we played three games and I thought our guys did a really good job focusing on each game and each day of preparation for each game,” Garrett said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“I thought they did a really good job of that during that stretch. Since last Thursday, the players were off, they were in on Monday. We cleaned up the game, we got a lift in, we got a run in and now we’re back at it earlier today with practice. Again, I think they do a really good job focusing on the task at hand, focusing on each day’s preparation to get ready to play our best football.”
The Giants will pose an imminent threat the to Cowboys’ streak. After a weak showing against the Steelers last Sunday, a 24-14 loss that ended a six-game winning streak of their own, they are looking to get back on track. They know the division is out of reach, but their remaing four games are against NFC competition and winning two of those four games could get them into the postseason tournament as a wild card.
Garrett is aware of the Giants’ predicament and is not seeking the revenge angle in this game. Week 1 is a speck in the rearview mirror for both teams, so he’s instructing his team to take care of their own business.
“I think the biggest thing is just focusing on what we need to do,” said Garrett. “We have great respect for their team, their entire organization. The biggest thing we need to do is continue to focus on ourselves and our daily preparation.”
Revenge is suckers, to quote Henry Gondorff, and Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott, who leads the NFL in rushing, agreed.
“I wouldn’t say we’re putting anything extra on this game. I don’t think it means anything more than any other game,” said Elliott. “It’s just the next game on the schedule. so it’s the most important game of the season. We try not to put emphasis on specific games or specific opponents, we just try to play one week at a time….Our goal is to go out there and get better every week as team. Yeah, we want to get home field advantage, we want to hit that first round bye, but we’re just focused on going out there, trying to get those wins every weekend and growing.”