Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Giants (2-6) can end their five-game losing streak to the Cowboys (4-3) if they top their play in the teams’ first 2019 matchup.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—To say the Dallas Cowboys have gotten the best of the New York Giants over the past several seasons would be a huge understatement. The Cowboys have won 10 of the last 13 matchups, and they are currently riding a five-game winning streak over Big Blue.

When these two teams met in Week 1 this season, the Cowboys dominated the Giants 35-17.

The Giants are all but eliminated from realistic NFL playoff contention and are on a four-game losing streak. But they would like to get a win in front of their home crowd and put a dent in Cowboys’ chances of reaching the postseason.

The Giants are the healthiest they’ve been in a while, as both Sterling Shepard and Corey Ballentine will play on Monday for the first time in weeks after recovering from concussions.

A healthy roster is a plus for the Giants, but they must play much better than they did in Week 1 if they’re going to win on Monday night.

 

Here are the keys to victory for the Giants against the Cowboys.

1. Get pressure in Dak Prescott’s face.

In his last two games against the Giants, Dak Prescott has looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s completed 52 of 76 passes for 792 yards and eight touchdowns against New York.

Normally when opponents face the Cowboys, the number one priority is stopping running back Ezekiel Elliott. But the way Prescott has played against them, the Giants must find a way to slow down the Cowboys’ passing game.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur fielded questions about Prescott on Thursday. Here’s how he replied:

“Well yeah, he’s a really good player. That’s something that we have to get fixed this week when we play them. He’s an outstanding player. He has outstanding players around him. He has people that will block for him. Oh by the way, when it breaks down, he can run. So, he’s a challenge, and certainly, that’s a big part of what we have to do to defend them is kind of keep him in check.”

The best way for the Giants to slow down the Cowboys’ air attack is by pressuring Prescott early and often. That will be easier said than done against the Cowboys’ offensive line. But Markus Golden, Lorenzo Carter, and the rest of the Giants’ front seven that includes newly acquired Leonard Williams need to find a way to win their one-on-one battles and get to Prescott.

2. Don’t allow the wide receivers to get free releases off the line of scrimmage

In the teams’ first matchup, the Giants’ cornerbacks played too far off the line of scrimmage. As a result, the trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb caught 17 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher can’t allow his cornerbacks to play that soft again.

Bettcher must have Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker, and the rest of the Giants corners press the Cowboys receivers. The cornerbacks must be physical and not allow free releases into the secondary.

3. A large dose of Saquon Barkley

In the Week 1 matchup, Saquon Barkley averaged 10.9 yards-per-carry. The problem is that he only had 11 carries for 120 yards. He also had four catches for 19 yards, but 15 touches for arguably the best running back in the game is simply not enough.

Barkley needs to get 25 touches on Monday night so that the Giant can have a sustained offensive attack. That way they can control the clock and keep their vulnerable defense off the field.

4. Win the turnover battle

The Cowboys are simply a better team than the Giants. So, in order for the Giants to compensate for having the less talented roster, they’re going to have to create turnovers and create additional scoring opportunities for their offense.

Just as important as the Giants defense and special teams’ need to force turnovers, the offense must not turn the ball over themselves. If the Giants can be plus two or better in turnover differential, it will bode well for their chances of pulling off the upset.

5. Be innovative on offense

Dallas is fresh, coming off a bye with an extra week to prepare for this game. But none of the film they’ve watched on the Giants will have Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton on the field together. Monday will mark the first time these players have been together on the field this season.

This will be Daniel Jonesfirst start in this heated rivalry, and for the first time this season, he’ll have his full array of weapons.

Pat Shurmur must be innovative in his play-calling and give the ball to his playmakers in open space. Now that the Giants offense is at full strength, it’s time that Shurmur dials up a game plan that will confuse the Cowboys’ defense.

Prediction: This game will be closer than the first matchup, thanks to the New York Giants’ offense. But the defense still can be trusted to make a stop when they need it most. The Cowboys will continue their dominance over the Giants. Cowboys 31, Giants 24.

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