It will be another classic battle in the Meadowlands at MetLife Stadium Monday night, Sept. 26, when the undefeated New York Giants (2-0) host the Dallas Cowboys (1-1).
The Giants have their first 2-0 start since 2016 under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, who already has captured his fanbase with a risky two-point conversion to beat Washington in the opener. And his team then survived a scratch-and-crawl battle with the Panthers in which kicker Graham Gano won it with a 56-yard field goal in the closing moments.
Dallas is coming off a hard-fought 20-17 victory over the Bengals in which backup quarterback Cooper Rush was at the helm for the injured Dak Prescott. Rush responded with an admirable performance in which he went 19-of-31 for 235 yards and one touchdown. The Cowboys opened the season with a lopsided loss to the Buccaneers in which Prescott fractured his thumb that required surgery.
Even though this is the third week of the season, this is a pivotal game for both teams. New York can remain in the driver’s seat with Philadelphia atop the NFC East, and Dallas can get itself back in the division race.
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N.Y. Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys Betting Odds
The Giants are riding high at 2-0, and the Cowboys are using a backup quarterback, but this line has dropped to Giants -1 after opening at Giants -3.
All Eyes on the Giants’ Backfield
Both running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones will be under the microscope the entire season, as Giants’ brass will weigh their futures based on their performances.
Barkley flashed his rookie form in the opener against Washington when he looked fleet and strong with 164 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving. He topped his day by scoring the game-winning, two-point conversion. Last week, Barkley had a respectable 72 yards against Carolina.
The former Penn State standout is aiming for his seventh consecutive Monday Night game with 50-plus yards from scrimmage. He can be the difference in this game, taking the pressure off Jones.
With Barkley’s showing, Jones has gotten off to a safe start, completing 39 of 55 passes with three touchdowns and one interception. Jones also hasn’t had the fate of the game in his hands, although he threw what could have been a disaster.
Jones had two touchdowns and one interception in his last home start against Dallas.
A Closer Look at Each Team
Jones and Barkley are the centerpieces for the Giants, but they have had supporting role players.
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard led the team with six receptions last week, and he has six-plus catches in two of his last three games against the Cowboys. Newcomer Richie James has been the biggest surprise at wide receiver, leading the team with 10 catches. James is vying for his third game with five-plus catches and 50-plus receiving yards. Kenny Golladay, the team’s big-ticket receiver, remains disgruntled about not being a top option.
Gano has four field goals and remains possibly their most consistent offensive weapon.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t had a breakout game with 105 yards in two games — a 53-yard effort against Cincinnati being his best. Behind Elliott and Tony Pollard, the Cowboys have the fifth-highest, first-half, run rate in the league at 47%. Elliott only has two receptions, both for minus yards.
Rush will be a key here as he will need to get the ball to CeeDee Lamb and rising star Noah Brown, who emerged in place of the injured Michael Gallup. Tight end Dalton Schultz has been hobbled with a knee injury, and that has limited Dallas’ chances. The offensive line has been working in some new faces with veteran guard Zack Martin.
Kicker Brett Maher has three field goals and is reliable, and KaVontae Turpin has been one of the league’s best return men.
New Giants’ defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s unit has been playing with a newfound aggressiveness. Safeties Julian Love and Xaiver McKinney have been very active, as each is among the team’s leaders in tackles.
The unit has three sacks, six pass deflections, and eight tackles for losses. Linebackers Tae Crowder, Jihad Ward, and Oshane Ximines along with cornerback Adoree Jackson have been effective in the early going.
The defense has allowed 395 passing yards and 239 rushing yards in two games. A glaring stat is the 4.9 average yards per carry allowed. Yet, the Giants held Carolina to 265 total yards last week.
The Cowboys’ defense has been paced by linebacker Micah Parsons, who is seeking his third week in a row with two-plus sacks. Parsons has four of the team’s eight sacks. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch leads the team with 16 stops.
Dallas has allowed 360 yards passing and 242 yards rushing, the latter for a 4.2 per yard clip that could help the Giants. But the unit has allowed just two touchdowns.
Series History and Injuries
This is a classic series that dates back to 1960. The Cowboys lead the overall series 77-47-2. However, the Cowboys have won nine of the last 10 meetings, with the Giants post their lone victory in 2021 (23-19 at MetLife).
Giants injuries: Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee), cornerback Aaron Robinson (appendix), cornerback Nick McCloud (hamstring), and cornerback Justin Layne (concussion) did not practice on Thursday.
Wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring), center Jon Feliciano (shin), linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee), linebacker Azeez Ojulari (calf), linebacker Dane Belton (clavicle), and safety Jason Pinnock (shoulder) were limited in practice. Getting Ojulari and Thibodeaux back on the field would be a huge plus for the Giants.
Cowboys injuries: Parsons (illness), Schultz (knee), safety Trevon Diggs (personal), and guard Connor McGovern (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. However, Parsons and Diggs are expected to play Monday.
The Giants have a wave of momentum, and the Cowboys have some, too, after squeaking out a win over Cincinnati. The Giants will make Rush beat them, and they will stuff the box against Elliott. Barkley has to be a factor, so Jones doesn’t have to be forced to win the game. A large and loud crowd will be at MetLife. If the Giants play mistake-free ball, they will go to 3-0.
Bet on the New York Giants to win outright – Giants, 24-17
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