It was a short week for the Dallas Cowboys as they prepared to host their annual Thanksgiving contest. This year, the opponent is the New York Giants, who are tied with the Cowboys in the NFC East standings with a 7-3 record. The teams seem to be heading in opposite directions after last week’s results, though.
Dallas went into Minnesota and thrashed the Vikings, while the Giants lost at home to the Detroit Lions. Both teams will have to have short memories and spend their time preparing their bodies for another game after playing just a few days ago. It’s been a rough go for Dallas on Thanksgiving recently, they have just three wins in their last 10 turkey day games and have lost three straight. The Cowboys and Giants have only met once on Thanksgiving, which the Cowboys won 30-3 in 1992.
Here are six more things to know about the Week 12 opponent for the Cowboys, the rival Giants.
They’re in their first slump of the year
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The Giants came out of the gate fast under new coach Brian Daboll. With a more physical team and behind Daboll’s aggressive nature, the Giants got out to a 6-1 start. The only loss was to the Cowboys on Monday Night Football in Week 3.
However, in their last three weeks, the Giants have begun to stall. New York has lost two of their last three games, and both losses were double-digit defeats. Last week the Giants lost at home to the Lions in perhaps their worst showing of the season.
The Giants had a few surprise wins earlier in the season but have come back down to earth. It’s the first slump for the Giants under Daboll and they’ll look to avoid their first losing streak of the season. A loss on Thanksgiving would essentially put the Giants out of the NFC East race, three games behind the Philadelphia Eagles and give the Cowboys any tiebreaker over New York in any postseason position with a season sweep.
There’s a lot at stake for the Giants, who are struggling at the wrong time.
Couldn’t stop the Cowboys pass rush in the first meeting
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In the first meeting, the Cowboys beat the Giants by holding their offense to 336 total yards. The Giants ran the ball well, but had trouble in the passing game.
New York’s offensive line couldn’t keep the Cowboys’ elite pass rush off quarterback Daniel Jones. Dallas’ defense had five sacks, including three from defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys attacked rookie right tackle Evan Neal and Lawrence gave the youngster an education on the night.
Neal is out with a knee injury, but the Giants have given up the seventh-most sacks in the league with 30 allowed. The Cowboys are the best team in the league at getting after the quarterback, with 42 sacks on the season.
Over the course of his career, Jones has been known to stay in the pocket trying to prolong plays, which leads to sacks. If the Cowboys can pressure Jones, which shouldn’t be a problem, they will enhance their chances of enjoying their Thanksgiving.
Injuries are piling up at WR
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The Giants came into the season with the most expensive wide receiver group in the league but had little production to show for it. Not much has changed 10 games into the season, the Giants rank 28th in the league in passing, averaging just over 177 yards a game.
Those aren’t good numbers, but some of the blame can be placed on inquiries at the receiver position. The Giants have been without WR Collin Johnson and Sterling Shepard for much of the year, while piecing together receivers to play.
One of the bright spots for the team was rookie WR Wan’Dale Robinson, who had his best game of the season. Robinson had his first career 100-yard game last week against the Lions, but also tore his ACL in the loss.
That’s three receivers lost for the season due to injury, and the Giants traded second-year WR Kadarius Toney a few weeks ago as well.
It now makes sense why the Giants are one of the candidates for landing the services of free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
It’s a short-handed group for the Giants, who will now be counting on high-priced veteran Kenny Golladay to produce. Injuries have zapped the depth at receiver for the Giants, who are now looking for answers at the position.
Daniel Jones had his first 300 yard game of the season
The Giants may not have great weapons in the passing game, but Jones had his best statistical outing in Week 11. Jones threw for 341 yards and one touchdown, earning his first 300-yard passing game of the season. It was also the second-highest passing yardage in his career.
Jones had only gone over 200 yards passing twice this year before throwing it all over the field against the Lions. The Giants were down double-digits in the second half of that game forcing Jones to throw it 44 times, also a season-high.
Dallas’ pass defense is now the top-ranked unit in the league, which should make it tough for the Giants to throw. Jones hit his high mark for the season against the Lions, but it’ll be difficult for him to do that against the Cowboys this week.
They gave it up on the ground
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
The Cowboys have their issues stopping the run, but the Giants aren’t any better. New York’s rushing defense allows close to 136 yards on the ground per game. Also like the Cowboys, it didn’t necessarily catch up to the Giants, who only allowed five rushing scores through nine games.
However, last week, the dam finally broke for the Giants defense. The unit allowed a season-high four rushing touchdowns, and 160 yards rushing to the Lions.
The Giants have given up at least 101 rushing yards in each of their last three games, and 176 to the Cowboys the first time the teams played. Dallas should have no problems eating up yards on the ground on Thanksgiving.
Saquon Barkley will challenge the defense
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With the Giants lacking receiving threats, they turned to their best playmaker on offense, running back Saquon Barkley. It was a down week for Barkley, who had a season-low 22 yards against the Lions, so the Giants will try to get him going against the Cowboys.
Despite the off week, Barkley is second in the league in rushing with 953 yards and six touchdowns. But Barkley is more than just a runner, he’s also a solid receiver out of the backfield. The fifth-year veteran out of Penn St. is fourth in the league with 1,163 total yards.
In the first meeting, Barkley had 126 total yards and a score, averaging 5.8 yards a carry. With the Giants being down wide receivers, expect Barkley to be utilized more in the passing game.
The best play maker on offense for the Giants is Barkley, so the Cowboys should see a heavy dose of touches from one of the NFL’s best running backs.
Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire