NFL: Looking like contenders, Cowboys host Giants in NFC East clash
Perhaps a year later than expected, the Dallas Cowboys have the look of a true contender in the NFC.
Three straight wins have propelled them to the top of an East Division that doesn’t look a whole lot better than last year, when every team finished with a losing record. However, two of those came against apparent playoff contenders in the Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers.
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Dallas (3-1) tries to make it four in a row Sunday when it hosts the New York Giants in a division clash. It owns a one-game lead on Washington and is two up on New York and Philadelphia.
It was the two games with the Giants last season that told the tale of a disappointing 6-10 campaign for Dallas. It won the first matchup at home but lost quarterback Dak Prescott for the season with an ugly fractured ankle that day, making a high-powered offense much more ordinary.
The second game went the Giants’ way in Week 17, knocking the Cowboys out for good and resulting in Washington winning the division with a win at Philadelphia. It ignited questions as to whether coach Mike McCarthy was truly the solution on the sideline.
These days, McCarthy appears to have Dallas on the right track, new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has improved a leaky unit and Prescott hasn’t missed a beat in his return. And with the re-emergence of running back Ezekiel Elliott, who carved up Carolina for 143 yards last week, the Cowboys don’t appear to have many holes.
Elliott’s numbers were modest through three games. But owner Jerry Jones was convinced that Elliott was ready to break out, citing the offseason work he’d put in that dropped 10 pounds off his frame.
“There’s no question that what you put in in spring, what you put in in training camp, that’s what you get out during the season,” Jones said. “He put it in during the offseason and it’s paying dividends for him.”
As for New York (1-3), it earned its first dividend of the season last weekend in New Orleans, where Daniel Jones threw for a career-high 402 yards and Saquon Barkley scored the winning touchdown in a 27-21 overtime decision.
Jones has played much more efficiently so far. A turnover machine at times in his first two years, Jones has tossed only one interception in 144 passes and lost just one fumble after coughing up 17 fumbles in his first 27 games.
“We haven’t won enough games — that’s no secret — the first two years and obviously this season didn’t start how we wanted it to or expected it to,” he said. “Those are storms we’ve all had to weather and we’ve got to continue to progress, continue to improve.”
The Giants certainly look like a different team offensively from the hit-or-miss unit of the last two years. Barkley collected 126 scrimmage yards in New Orleans, while free agent receiver Kenny Golladay enjoyed his best game with the team, grabbing six passes for 116 yards.
To make it two straight wins, New York might need more big plays from a defense that ranks in the league’s bottom half in sacks (tied for 30th) and interceptions (tied for 18th).
–Field Level Media
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