What to watch for in Cowboys-Giants on 'MNF'

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  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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The Cowboys haven't lost to the Giants in three years. But they have lost this year at MetLife Stadium. Three weeks after falling to the Jets, Dallas returns to New Jersey to take on the Giants on "Monday Night Football."

The NFC East rivals are both coming off forgettable Octobers. The Cowboys, who dropped three in a row at one point, are also coming off a bye. They thrashed the Eagles two weeks ago to reclaim sole possession of first place in the division. New York is in third after dropping four straight. The last two have been by a possession and they involved Saquon Barkley, back from a high-ankle sprain.

Between him and Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Daniel Jones, the Cowboys' prolific offense and the Giants' anemic defense, the storylines are abundant.

Prescott 2.0


Through seven games, Prescott is having the best statistical season of his career. The Giants, of course, have fielded better defenses. They rank in the bottom six in points, yards, passer rating and big plays. Prescott registered a perfect passer rating while throwing four touchdowns versus Big Blue in the season opener. He became the fourth QB in the Super Bowl era to pull that off. He's also averaging more than 300 yards per game and completing more than 70 percent of his passes, which only Drew Brees has done for an entire season.

The key for New York will be preventing throws outside the numbers. It's a part of the field in which the Giants really struggle and Prescott thrives. He leads the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating on such attempts. Tonight could be another big day for Amari Cooper. There are 88 QB-receiver duos with at least 30 targets, and none rate higher than Cooper and Prescott.

A boost of Barkley


The debate figures to carry on for years as to who's better, Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott. New York is simply hoping their star running back is back to full health. Barkley was off to a blazing start before suffering an ankle injury in Week 3. He hasn't quite looked like himself following a three-game absence. He's averaging fewer than four yards a carry the past two games, though he did catch eight passes for 79 yards and a touchdown last week.

Barkley again might be tasked to do more in the passing game as wide receiver Sterling Shepard has been ruled out because of lingering concussion symptoms. The Giants still haven't played a single snap this season with all four of their top offensive weapons (Barkley, Shepard, Evan Engram, Golden Tate). But having Barkley alone should elevate the league's 24th-ranked offense. No player in the league has posted more games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage since he entered the league (16). Moreover, the Cowboys' run defense has sometimes been the lone weakness of an otherwise formidable unit.

Daniel Jones, meet Dallas


This will be the first meeting in the series since Oct. 10, 2004 that Eli Manning isn't starting. That day, Kurt Warner had the honor for the Giants and Vinny Testaverde for the Cowboys. Jason Witten was only in his second season. Daniel Jones was 7 years old. As he prepares for the seventh start of his career, Dimes is coming off his best game thus far.

The Giants' rookie QB threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns against the Lions. He also didn't throw an interception. Since becoming the starter in Week 3, he's tied with Jameis Winston for the most giveaways in the league (12). The Cowboys don't boast the most opportunistic defense, ranking just 18th in turnovers, but they're ninth against the pass and have been especially stingy on third downs and in the red zone.

Cowboys own the East


The Cowboys would be the best team in the NFL if they only had to play the NFC East, and apparently out of the playoffs if they were in another division. The splits are startling over the past season and a half. Since the beginning of 2018, Dallas is 8-1 versus its division foes and 6-8 otherwise. That includes a 3-0 mark this year, with each win coming by double digits.

The Cowboys handed the Giants a 35-17 beatdown in Week 1 in Jerry World, claiming their fifth straight win in the series. One more would tie the longest streak in the storied rivalry. The Giants are obviously looking for any win after dropping four straight. But the Cowboys, who are 1-3 this season outside the East, can't afford to overlook their division foe. They don't play another one until Week 16.

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