NFL 2019 (Week 9): Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 9): Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

Despite a relatively average 4-3 record, the Dallas Cowboys are 3-0 in the NFC East, which is good enough for first place. And, despite a four-game losing streak, the New York Giants are confident that they made the right decision in benching Eli Manning for Daniel Jones. Jones won his first two starts—against Tampa Bay and Washington—and had the Giants within a single score at the end of their two most recent losses to Arizona and Detroit. This will be a rematch of the season opener, a 35-17 Dallas victory that showcased offensive coordinator Kellen Moore's system to dazzling effect. In that game, Dak Prescott put up a perfect passer rating of 158.3 while topping 400 yards and four touchdowns through the air. The Giants are hoping that some home cooking will help flip the script this time around, even though the Cowboys had a bye last week to recharge for a second-half playoff push.

Cowboys: One bit of bad news for the visiting team is that star linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will likely miss his first career game with a neck injury, although he is still officially listed as questionable. In his place, Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee will be expected to corral Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. Young quarterbacks are frequently over-reliant on their tight ends, and Engram has been targeted 60 times to this point, which is well north of the next-highest player: Golden Tate with 36. Expect Smith, Lee, and strong safety Jeff Heath to harass Engram all night. Offensively, Moore needs to continue with a balanced approach between Ezekiel Elliott runs and deep shots by Prescott. Dallas is 3-1 when Elliott runs for over 100 yards and 1-2 when he is held under the century mark. They are the better team, and in a hostile environment for a prime time game, their best bet is to feed Zeke and keep the Giants at bay from the get-go.

Giants: Now that Barkley is fully healthy again (he missed 3 games before returning against Arizona), he should be considered Cowboys' Kryptonite. If New York can stay ahead of the chains and keep possession of the ball, they will be able to limit chances for Prescott and Elliott to register video game numbers. Receiver Sterling Shepard will not play in this game, but the Giants are fairly clean on the injury front, especially considering that nearly every team is dealing with midseason nicks by now. With Jones and Barkley in place on offense and Dexter Lawrence and Deandre Baker entrenched as defensive starters, head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman can now evaluate the state of their roster over the next eight games to determine what they need to address in the future. These four young players can be built around, but of course any competitor wants to win now as well. A Monday night game against their division rivals would be a great place to start.

Prediction: Even without Vander Esch, Dallas looks fresh and explosive, and New York doesn't have the horses to keep pace.

Dallas Cowboys 30, New York Giants 17

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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