The New York Giants are a very different team than the one that lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2. And this Sunday’s opponent, the Cowboys, are by no means the same team that the Giants faced over 15 weeks ago.
That game four months ago was a 20-13 loss for the Giants, a contest where the Cowboys were held to just 298 yards of total offense, 40 yards fewer than their season average.
After a rough start to the year, the Cowboys have clinched the NFC East and are flying heading into the playoffs. The turning point of their year came when they made a bold move for Amari Cooper midseason, adding the Pro Bowl wide receiver in a trade with the Oakland Raiders.
Cooper has more than lived up to the price of a first-round pick. In eight games with the Cowboys, Cooper has 48 catches for 694 yards and six touchdowns. An offense once built on the ground game is more balanced and dynamic with the addition of Cooper.
“They’ve added a dynamic playmaker at receiver,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said.
“Certainly their offense runs through their quarterback and their running back. They do an excellent job running the football, they’re committed to it and Dak Prescott and the offensive line do a great job. Ezekiel Elliott gets yards when he runs the ball and the play action feeds off of that, so when you add a dynamic playmaker on the outside, from a defensive standpoint, you have to defend everything. They’ve made big plays now with him in the lineup.”
If Cooper plays on Sunday — and he may not as the Cowboys are locked in the fourth seed in the playoffs — he will need just 26 receiving yards to reach a 1,000 on the year. It would be the third time in his four years in the NFL that he’s hauled in 1,000 receiving yards.
The good news is that, while the Cowboys are a much-improved team, so too are the Giants. After a 1-7 start, they have rebounded since their bye week and are 4-3 as they close out the season.
A win over the division champions would be a great way to end the season on a high note. A year of rebuilding would end in a positive fashion with some momentum.
The Cowboys have certainly taken notice of the fact that the Giants have been trending up in recent games. This is a far cry from the opponent in Week 2 that was uncertain about their future and where they were in the rebuilding process.
“I think the Giants are playing very well,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said.
“Their game last week against Indianapolis, we just played [The Colts] two weeks ago and they’re a good football team. They’re good in all three phases of the game and the Giants did a fantastic job against them. [The Giants] have been doing a really good job over the last month and a half, two months. They’re a very talented team. They’ve got a lot of skill on offense, they have a lot of talented players on defense and throughout their team, and there’s no question they’re playing at a very high level right now.”