Sep. 26, 2016
Can the Giants defeat the Cowboys three times this season?
That was the day that many Dallas Cowboys fans thought their team’s season was over. That Saturday the Cowboys faced off against the Seattle Seahawks in a preseason game and Cowboys’ starting quarterback Tony Romo broke a vertebrae in his back.
Instead of that being the start of a long and frustrating season, it was the start of young star Dak Prescott’s career. The Cowboys now find themselves in a situation they probably didn’t see themselves in with Romo and that is 11 wins through 13 games.
The only team that has stood between Dallas and a perfect season is the New York Giants. The Giants defeated the Cowboys on opening weekend, 20-19, and then for a second time on Sunday, 10-7. New York has been the only obstacle for Dallas this season.
The Giants have had themselves quite a successful season thus far. New York currently is 9-4 and are as of December 15th, are comfortably sitting in a playoff spot, is the top Wild Card.
If the standings hold, there is a legitimate chance that the Cowboys and Giants will face off for a third time this season. If the season ended today, the Cowboys would be the No. 1 seed and the Giants the No. 5 seed.
If the Giants win the Wild Card Game, they would play the Cowboys in Arlington. New York would have the chance to go 3-0 against Dallas, a feat that doesn’t happen often in the NFL. Since 1982, these are the teams that have accomplished a three-peat against another team in the same season.
In the scenario that the Cowboys and Giants play each other in the playoffs, Dallas should be the favorites to win the game. For one, the game will be played at AT&T Stadium, a place where their defense has played better than on the road.
It’s not like the defense has been the reason the Cowboys have dropped their two games against the Giants. The Dallas defense gave up 20 points in the first meeting and only 10 this past weekend.The reason the Cowboys are losing is because of the same person that is a large reason that they are 11-2, Prescott.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott did his share, running for 107 yards. Prescott, on the other hand, only went 17/37 for 165 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. In the first matchup, Prescott threw 25/45 for 227 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 69.4 passer rating.
The Giants were able to stop Prescott, unlike other teams this year, because they were able to pressure and contain him. New York’s defense have good cornerbacks and playmaking lineman and linebackers. The Giants used many different types of pressure packages against the Cowboys and it worked marvelously, packages that weren’t used during the first game between the two.
If there is a bright side for the Cowboys, Prescott will be able to look back at the footage and try to learn from his mistakes and find holes on the packages the Giants were throwing at him. What happened to Prescott on Sunday happens to most inexperienced quarterbacks. Until a young quarterback has first-hand experience with those type of defenses, it is hard to prepare.
Which leads into the next huge factor and that is, will Prescott even be the quarterback by the time the playoffs come around? He’s played phenomenally this season and his struggles against the Giants shouldn’t change his roster status, but the Cowboys do have Romo and owner Jerry Jones loves Romo.
It’s unclear whether or not Romo is even healthy enough to play at the moment, but that could change the whole outlook of the game. If Prescott has another poor performance this week, it could sway Jones to start Romo instead.
Romo has had success against the Giants in his career, going 11-9 with a 100.7 career passer rating against New York. Romo is also one of the smartest and experienced quarterbacks in the NFL. What Prescott struggled facing is what Romo has historically been great against. Romo is known for being cool and collected against pressure and when the pocket breaks down. It’s impossible to know how Romo’s significant time away from football would affect his play, but if he is anywhere close to normal, the Cowboys might be better with Romo, at least against the Giants.
On the other hand, Romo is also thought to struggle in the postseason. In Romo’s career, the Cowboys have only played six playoff games and have a record of 2-4 in those games. However, Romo himself played fine overall in those games. He has a post season TD-INT ratio of 8-2 and a 93.0 career postseason passer rating. So those perceived struggles are slightly misguided. He did have a dreadful two games in the 2007 playoffs where he had a 64.7 passer rating.
The Giants also are known for making runs in the playoffs when they are the underdog, so the outcome is nowhere near certain. New York are a good football team and any game between them and the Cowboys in the playoffs should be close, but the Cowboys have the edge with or without Romo. The Giants threw a lot of new packages at the Cowboys and may have shown their hand a little too much.