giants cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The first of two matchups in the 2021 edition of this rivalry occurs Sunday afternoon in the Lone Star State.

Ryan Honey

The infamous Giants-Cowboys rivalry has been one-sided in recent years, with Dallas having won seven of the last eight matchups.

But every season is a new season; every week is a new week; every game is a new game.

It doesn’t matter how the last meeting went or how either team’s respective season is going. Every time these two teams take the field against one another, the event carries a great deal of meaning.

To Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, this rivalry is seemingly tough to compare to others.

“I’ll never forget my first regular-season game as a Giants coach and it was against the Cowboys,” Graham told the media Thursday, per Giants.com. “It was a four o’clock game and I remember JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] standing next to me during the national anthem and he said, ‘This ain’t the Jets’ or he said something to me, right? Because I was with New England for my whole time and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a little different, man. It’s a little different’…I know it’s important to the people around here, I know it’s important to the fans around here, so it’s important for us to prepare and get ready for the game. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

It’s tough to imagine the Giants, at least in recent years, having faced a Cowboys offense much better than the one Dallas currently employs.

The group of weapons is highly saturated with talent and the Cowboys field an elite quarterback to maximize the potential of those around him.

What’s dangerous about this Cowboys offense is it carries the ability to utilize an unpredictable balanced attack. Quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, and tight end Dalton Schultz allow the team to succeed through the air while running back Ezekiel Elliott provides the team the opportunity to take pressure off its signal-caller.

The Giants defense hasn’t been as strong as it was in 2020 but will need to be ready for whatever head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore scheme up.

“They’ve got good players at every skill position, a good O-line, and a really good quarterback, so it’s just a complete offense,” safety Logan Ryan said when meeting with the media Thursday. “They have good balance, so that’s just a challenge of they can move the ball effectively both through the air and the run game. It’ll be a great test for us.”

The Giants defense has slightly improved over the last two games and allowed 17 and 21 points in Weeks 3 and 4, respectively. New York allowed 27 and 30 points in Weeks 1 and 2, also respectively.

The yardage is still an issue though. The Giants are letting their opponents gain an average of 382.0 yards per game (22nd in the NFL), a concerning fact when you realize Dallas is gaining 420.8 average yards of its own (third in the league).

The key to overpowering the Cowboy offense will be to pressure the quarterback, something the Giants haven’t really done on a consistent basis this season. Graham’s group cannot allow Prescott to have time to operate and go through his progressions — the highly talented quarterback will torch New York if that’s the case.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

Listen to ESNY’s Wide Right Podcast on Apple here or on Spotify here.