It's an NFC East battle on Sunday as the Cowboys host the Giants. It's a series that Dallas has dominated lately with seven wins in the last eight matchups. The one loss actually came last season as the Giants beat the Cowboys 23-19 in MetLife Stadium in the Week 17 finale. This came nearly three months after Dallas edged New York 37-34 in a Week 5 contest that saw Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott fracture his ankle, ending his season. Andy Dalton ended up finishing the game and starting the other one in January.
This season, the Giants (1-3) are no longer winless after they beat the Saints in New Orleans 27-21 in overtime last week. Daniel Jones threw for 402 yards and two touchdowns, which is impressive but looks even better considering wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton didn't play because of hamstring injuries. Jones' leading receivers against the Saints were Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, who had six receptions each. Saquon Barkley flashed some of his old form as well, accounting for 130 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the victory, which saw New York rally from 11 down in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime and then winning it by marching the ball down the field on the first possession.
Meanwhile, Dallas moved to 3-1 after defeating Carolina 36-28 at home. The run game continued to be stout as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for more than 200 rushing yards. Prescott didn't have to throw it a ton, as he attempted just 22 passes, but he still finished with four touchdowns. The Cowboys' defense is still a problem, but it won't matter as long as the offense continues to put up points and dominate the time of possession.
New York (1-3) at Dallas (3-1)
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 10 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Cowboys -7
Three Things to Watch
This is the Giants' second straight road game and third in the last four weeks, so weariness could become an issue for the banged-up team. I don't think a 1-3 squad can afford to look ahead to another contest, but New York has the Rams at home next Sunday. The more pressing issue is an injury report that listed 11 players at one point this week. The injuries aren't all serious, but this roster is far from full strength, which is a concern considering it didn't feature a lot of depth in the first place.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are playing a third straight home game, which is somewhat rare in the NFL. Dallas will hit the road and head to New England next Sunday, but this is a divisional game against a longtime rival, so focus shouldn't be an issue. The Cowboys are much healthier right now, but it will be interesting to see if there's any hangover from this week's release of 2016 second-round pick and former starting linebacker Jaylon Smith.
Smith wasn't getting a lot of playing time in new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's scheme due to the additions of first-round pick Micah Parsons and free-agent signee Keanu Neal, so Dallas decided to cut ties with him on Tuesday. But Smith was a big part of this team for the past several seasons and his absence will put more pressure on backups Jabril Cox, a fourth-round pick this year, and Luke Gifford, a third-year pro who has played in 17 games. Remember, despite the Cowboys' early success, the defense is ranked 27th overall (396.3 ypg) and is second to last against the pass (315.3 ypg).
2. Run, run, run away
Dallas has a great formula that keeps the ball in its hands and doesn't allow opponents to take advantage of their aforementioned porous defense. The Cowboys are 11th in the league averaging 31:13 minutes in time of possession. The Giants are 24th in average defensive time of possession at just over 32 minutes per contest. This can't happen if the road team hopes to pull off the upset.
Elliott and Pollard are finding massive holes to run through as Dallas leads the NFL at 5.3 yards per carry. An effective running game also only makes Prescott that much more dangerous in the pocket. Alvin Kamara and Melvin Gordon III both managed to cross the 100-yard mark on the ground against the Giants earlier this season. Unless offensive coordinator Kellen Moore changes things up, either Elliott or Pollard could do the same on Sunday afternoon. Who knows? Maybe both get there since the Cowboys are averaging 166 rushing yards per game, which is second in the NFL.
3. Daniel Jones
The Giants' embattled starting quarterback is coming off his best game of the season, completing 70 percent of his passes for 402 yards and two touchdowns in the come-from-behind win in New Orleans. Jones did throw his first interception of the season, but overall he's done a great job keeping the turnovers down with just one lost fumble so far. He's a factor in the run game as well, although Jones had just four carries last week. In two games against Dallas last season, he totaled just 10 rushing yards on 11 carries so the Cowboys did a good job in limiting him in that respect.
Every quarterback that has faced Dallas this season has thrown more than 300 yards, although some of that production came in garbage time. Last week, Sam Darnold totaled four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), but he also had two interceptions and was sacked five times in a game Carolina trailed 36-14 early in the fourth quarter. Trevon Diggs had both of the picks and has at least one in every game this season.
The Giants are a banged-up football team that is struggling to stop the run and doesn't have the same level of offensive firepower as their opponent. That's a horrible recipe for Sunday's contest against a team that is committing to the run while knowing they can throw to a bevy of weapons when they need to. The Giants' only hope is Barkley's continued improvement allows them to control the clock and dictate tempo. Barkley will look good again, but it won't matter as the Cowboys get another win in the division.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 20
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.