New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Matchups, prediction for Sunday afternoon division rivalry

    What is the Week 5 prediction in the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys divisional matchup, and how does each position group shape up?

    The Dallas Cowboys battle the New York Giants Sunday afternoon in a division rivalry matchup. The Cowboys appear tough to beat, with their only loss of the season coming on a last-second field goal against the defending Super Bowl champions. Meanwhile, Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense just exploded in their Week 4 matchup against the confounding New Orleans Saints. Here, we’ll look at how each position group matches up against their counterpart to best try and predict the outcome of Cowboys vs. Giants.

    Dallas Cowboys offense vs. New York Giants defense

    The Cowboys’ offense has been a well-oiled machine through the first quarter of the season. From an efficiency standpoint, they possess the fifth-best passing attack and the absolute premier rushing attack in the league. They’re also fourth in EPA/play and first in success rate.

    Conversely, the Giants’ defense, which on paper appeared formidable, has managed to somehow find its way to the bottom-third of the league so far. They haven’t just struggled against one-half of an offensive output, either. The Giants are 24th or worse against both the run and the pass.

    This is already appearing a bit one-sided.

    Dak Prescott vs. Giants defense

    Dak Prescott is playing the most efficient football of his career. With full autonomy at the offensive line before the snap, he gets the Cowboys into the correct call from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore almost every time the offense breaks the huddle.

    He’s also 7-2 against the Giants in his career and 20-6 against the NFC East in general. With Dak playing at an elite level, and New York’s defense struggling, it would take a tiny miracle for New York to cause a bad day for the Cowboys quarterback.

    Advantage: Cowboys

    Cowboys weapons vs. Giants defensive backs

    We already know about the Cowboys’ offensive weaponry. Amari Cooper is battling through injury, and CeeDee Lamb has slowed down a bit since the Michael Gallup injury. So, this offense is missing a key piece, and the two other receivers haven’t necessarily picked up the slack.

    So, where is this firepower coming from?

    Well, Dalton Schultz has emerged as one of the top-10 TE targets in the NFL, and Blake Jarwin is his $22 million backup option. Then, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard can win catching passes out of the backfield as well.

    New York’s secondary is talented. James Bradberry was a no-doubt top-10 cornerback in 2020, and New York also spent money on Adoree’ Jackson. On top of them, the Giants also have Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and Julian Love rotating around on the back end.

    Advantage: Cowboys

    Cowboys offensive line vs. Giants front seven

    The Cowboys’ offensive line has been nothing short of dominant as a run-blocking unit. Football Outsiders has them as the top team in adjusted line yards. Now, line analytics can be a tough buy, given the nuance in the position. But if you’ve watched Dallas’ offensive line in the past three weeks, it’s evident they’re a dominant force.

    Remember, they’re first in rushing efficiency despite playing the Buccaneers in Week 1, where they only toted the rock for 3.3 ypc on 18 attempts.

    Moreover, the Giants have struggled against the run. That might be the biggest surprise of the season so far, given the assets general manager Dave Gettleman has spent on the interior defensive line.

    Losing Blake Martinez hurts because New York loses their chase-and-tackle player in the process. Still, that defensive interior should be able to free up even replacement-level linebackers enough to suffice against the run.

    Advantage: Cowboys

    Dallas Cowboys defense vs. New York Giants offense

    Last week, the Giants’ passing attack caught fire when Danny Dimes threw for over 400 yards against a Saints secondary that should be more talented than the Cowboys’ defense New York is about to face. Currently, the Giants’ offense ranks 12th in efficiency, despite struggling to run the football with their backs. Somehow, in 2021, Daniel Jones is still New York’s leading rusher through four games.

    The Cowboys’ defense has been a surprise. They’re currently top-10 in overall efficiency as a defense, but they also have a turnover rate twice as high as the league average.

    Only two teams allow more yards per play than Dallas. Some of that is due to late-game prevent situations as in Eagles and Panthers games. Yet, when we peek over to a team like the Buffalo Bills, we don’t see that same give. They’ve been embarrassing teams and haven’t given an inch of easy offense.

    Daniel Jones vs. Cowboys defense

    Through four games, Jones is playing the best football of his career. Turnovers were always his most prominent shortcoming, and he’s limited those so far in 2021. Jones has also proven to be a weapon on the ground, which adds an offensive layer that makes life difficult for defenses. He’s averaging 7 yards per carry and 47 yards per game.

    If he’s going to regress, however, it would probably come against the Cowboys. Despite their defensive shortcomings, they’re making plays on the ball for the first time in my adult life. They’re second in takeaways and are tied for first in turnover differential with Buffalo.

    Advantage: Giants

    Giants weapons vs. Cowboys secondary

    The Giants aren’t short on offensive weapons. But don’t expect Kenny Golladay to catch any footballs if Trevon Diggs is tasked with being his shadow on Sunday. He’s the exact mold of receiver Diggs can clamp. Under normal circumstances, I’d swoon over Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, but both appear … hamstrung … with injuries.

    Neither appears too severe, and you have to admit that was a Grade A dad joke.

    John Ross and Kadarius Toney are the two receivers to pick up the slack, bringing this battle to more level ground. However, with competent safety play for the first time since Darren Woodson had a star on his helmet, Ross and Toney don’t scare the Cowboys’ secondary.

    Still, expect to see Ross run right by Anthony Brown at some point. It’ll be up to Jones to make the throw at that point. Overall, the Cowboys match up well with the Giants.

    Advantage: Push

    Giants offensive line vs. Cowboys front seven

    Even if the Giants drafted the correct left tackle of the future in the 2020 NFL Draft, this would still be one of the worst offensive lines in football. Now, with Nick Gates reportedly undergoing his sixth surgery to repair the brutal leg injury he suffered, the Giants don’t even have their starting center.

    Meanwhile, the Cowboys appear to have struck gold with Osa Odighizuwa, and Randy Gregory found his stride in Week 4, notching 2 sacks against the Panthers. If the Cowboys get Keanu Neal and Bradlee Anae back, it will allow them to shuffle Micah Parsons around the front seven. That would give the Cowboys an even bigger advantage than they already have vs. the Giants.

    Advantage: Cowboys

    Dallas Cowboys cut Jaylon Smith

    This needed its own header. It’s not necessarily surprising to see, given his level of play over the past three seasons. The timing, however, is surprising. That is until you dig a bit deeper to find that Jaylon Smith had a guarantee that would be paid by Dallas were he to suffer an injury.

    That is the reason he wasn’t cut during the offseason. Smith had wrist surgery in January that fully guaranteed his 2021 salary ahead of a scheduled vested guarantee. Now that the Cowboys have a bit of linebacker depth, they would rather save the money for 2022 than risk having to pay him next year as well.

    No matter the name or contract, you’re not safe on this football team if you aren’t playing up to standard.

    Betting line and game prediction

    The Cowboys are currently 7-point favorites at home against the Giants. When we look at the individual unit matchups, the Cowboys take four of the six categories. The Giants, meanwhile, take one, and the teams push on another.

    This should not be an evenly-matched game. A touchdown doesn’t feel like enough, but we’ve already seen both Philadelphia and Carolina score late in games against Dallas. Philadelphia still lost by 20, but the Cowboys are making a habit of allowing scores late that could cause their bettors some bad beats.

    One thing to think about is this — this is Dak’s revenge game. This is Kellen Moore at the top of his game taking it to his former head coach. I don’t think Dallas pulls any punches against the Giants this week.

    Additionally, the Cowboys are at home. In their last seven games at home with Prescott, they’ve averaged 40.4 points per game.

    Prediction: Cowboys 38, Giants 27

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