The New York Giants are in the win column, capping off a shocking day of NYC-area football last week by upsetting the New Orleans Saints in overtime.
For a team expected to be toward the bottom of the NFC East, the Giants’ schedule is in the middle of a grueling stretch as their prize for winning down in New Orleans is a trip to Dallas to play the NFC East-leading (and rival) Cowboys, who are off to an impressive 3-1 start in 2021.
Here’s what to watch for ahead of Sunday afternoon’s (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) kick-off:
The Giants have often displayed a vanilla offensive attack over the years, relying on methodical, hard-nosed football to move the sticks. Over the last five years, though, a timid offense has experienced little success, and that didn’t change over the first three weeks of the season as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s plan was as bland as ever.
Entering Week 4, the Giants’ offense ranked 24th in scoring and 30th in red-zone efficiency before the script was suddenly flipped in a welcomed turn of events.
Garrett started calling for longer pass plays, which is the bread and butter of Daniel Jones; the young quarterback throwing one of the best deep balls in the league. He hit John Ross with a 52-yard bomb to open the scoring, hit running back Saquon Barkley for a 54-yard score after Garrett actually started getting creative in order to get more touches for one of the most explosive players in the league.
As 7.5-point underdogs to a clicking Cowboys squad, there’s no other option for the Giants but to stay aggressive on the offensive end to keep up with Dallas down in the Lone Star State; because timid football will get you nowhere in a divisional matchup.
It might not be as easy for Jones to replicate the 402-yard performance that he posted against the Saints last week — mainly because cornerback Trevon Diggs will be stalking the Giants’ receivers on Sunday.
In just his second year as a pro, Diggs has been red hot to start the season, recording five interceptions in the Cowboys’ first four games. That’s only happened once before in Cowboys franchise history.
He currently leads the NFL in interceptions and accounts for half the takeaways of a defense that has the second-most (10) in the league.
Sunday will provide some closure for Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Week 5 of last season at AT&T Stadium saw him suffer a gruesome leg injury against the Giants that ended his season. Week 5 this season at AT&T Stadium also comes against the Giants.
Prescott has been superb to start the 2021 season, which is going to put plenty of strain on New York’s defense. He’s completed 100-of-133 passes (75.2%) for 1,066 yards, 10 touchdowns, and just two interceptions.
His arsenal of weapons is endless. Three players — Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and tight end Dalton Schultz — have at least 20 receptions in just four games. They are three of seven players who have at least five catches so far.
That’s how to spread the wealth in a deep offense.
It also helps that the passing game is kept open due to the returning ground attack headlined by Ezekiel Elliott. The All-Pro eclipsed the 140-yard rushing mark last week against the Carolina Panthers for the first time since 2018. After a career-worst campaign last year, Elliott is averaging 85.5 rushing yards per game this season, and only looks to be trending upward.
That’s more than plenty to keep the Giants defense’s hands full Sunday.