How about this for a statement win, Cowboys Nation? The Cowboys got back on track against the Vikings on Sunday by dominating their way to a 40-3 win after a total of seven sacks from defense and four touchdowns between Tony Pollard and a healthy Ezekiel Elliott.
But don’t enjoy the victory for too long. Another high-stakes game against a division rival is coming up on Thanksgiving Day. Surprisingly promoted Giants are second in the NFC East, 7-3, despite a lackluster performance against the Lions, in which Daniel Jones threw two interceptions.
It’s round 2 of this division battle. Will the Cowboys clear the season series on ‘Turkey Day’ or will the Giants even the score? Here are five storylines for each team ahead of the week 12 competition.
- If anyone has the Giants at 7-3 after 10 weeks of the NFL season, congratulations to you. Anyway, freshman head coach Brian Daboll did a great job in his freshman season but suffered a setback against the Lions. Saquon Barkley had his worst game of the season, rushing just 22 yards. Daniel Jones passed for 340 yards and rushed for another 50, including a touchdown, but threw two picks. Add a costly fumble from Isaiah Hodgins late in the fourth that resulted in a Lions touchdown and the Giants are looking to put that 31-18 loss behind them.
- If you take out his tough performance against the Lions, Barkley looked like the old player in 2022. Now he’s completely healthy and nearing a 1,000-yard mark for the season with six touchdowns. In Week 3 against the Cowboys, he rushed for 81 yards and one point. Barkley has been the offense engine for the Giants this season and they go as he goes, so expect a big dose from him on Thursday.
- As if they didn’t have enough injuries to contend with this season, Monday’s injury report for the Giants got even grimmer. Rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson tore his ACL in that loss to the Lions, while cornerback Adoree’ Jackson suffered an MCL sprain and is likely to miss the next 4-6 weeks, making it unlikely he can play against the Lions on Thursday cowboys plays .
- With Robinson now out for the season, Sterling Shepard misses most of the season due to his own cruciate ligament rupture he sustained against the Cowboys, along with Kadarius Toney’s trade, the Giants find themselves rather thin at the receiver site. Outside of Darious Slayton, there aren’t many household names that fans would recognize, and it did show up in the receiving corps’ production. The Giants rank bottom this season in yards per game and touchdowns from their receivers.
- Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys is only the third time the Giants have played on the holiday since 1938. Last time New York played Thanksgiving? The 1992 season against the Cowboys winning that game 30-3.
- With all the questions and concerns surrounding the Cowboys’ defense and their ability to stop the run against opposing teams, it’s safe to say these were the answers to the ones against the Vikings. They held Dalvin Cook for just 72 yards in 11 carries without touchdowns while sacking Kirk Cousins seven times. Those two stats should bode well for the Cowboys as they prepare for the Giants, who have sacked Daniel Jones 30 times this season.
- On the injury front, head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that linebacker Anthony Barr aggravated his hamstring injury before the Vikings game, causing him to miss his second straight game. McCarthy said Barr will be “pressured” to play the Giants. As for Micah Parsons, whose knee was examined Sunday before rejoining the game, McCarthy said the All-Pro linebacker will participate in the team’s walkthrough on Wednesday.
- After Sunday’s win over the Vikings, owner/general manager Jerry Jones spoke about his confidence in the Cowboys potentially making it to the Super Bowl and answered, “Yes, definitely” before turning his attention to the Giants. As for McCarthy, he was quick to point out that the Cowboys’ focus is squarely on the Giants and dismissed any talk about the Super Bowl at this stage of the season. “Talking about anything other than the Giants is a waste of time… This is about beating the Giants.”
- When Ezekiel Elliott returned to the field alongside Tony Pollard on Sunday, the Cowboys finally got to see their dynamic backfield duo in action. And it delivered. Elliott rushed for two touchdowns while Pollard totaled 80 rushing yards and another 109 receiving yards on two touchdowns. Being both healthy and ready could pay off against a Giants defense that has had its own struggles with the run.
- As a Thanksgiving Day staple along with the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys have lost three straight games on Turkey Day and are trying to avoid losing four games for the second time in franchise history. The Cowboys are 31-22-1 in their 54 games over the Holidays dating back to 1966, with their most recent loss coming as late as last season in an overtime thriller against the Raiders.