Posted on December 8, 2016, by Travis Pulver
Winning is awesome. To a team that is doing it, there is nothing better. To a team that isn’t, the concept appears to be just out of reach. But the team that isn’t winning doesn’t need to be reminded to play hard. They always do because they are striving to get that elusive win.
A team that is winning, however, sometimes needs a wake-up call. Winning teams sometimes need to be reminded never to take an opponent lightly. They need to know that if they take an opponent’s hunger, drive, and determination for granted, they are going to get beat.
Just telling them not to is often not good enough. They need to learn the hard way. It nearly happened to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but in the end, they escaped with the win.
But did they learn anything? Was that the real Dallas offense or does the Vikings defense deserve credit for limiting the mighty Cowboys? Was what fans saw the real Dallas defense? If so—how scared should fans be?
They let Minnesota’s terrible offense nearly look good! So–was the call close enough that they will play harder going forward or will they think they can win even when they play like poorly?
Giants fans will be hoping the answer is the latter so that Eli Manning and the rest of the Giants offense can have an easy game Sunday night and pull off the upset. There’s just one problem—the Giants aren’t very good.
Yes, they have an 8-4 record and are in good position to win one of the two NFC wild-card spots. Yes, they beat the Cowboys in Week One (by a single point), but that was the first start for the new dynamic duo in Dallas (Prescott and Elliot), and let’s not forget that six-game winning streak that just came to an end.
The streak was nice, but it came against some of the worst teams in the NFL (Browns, Bengals, Bears, Rams, Eagles), and every game but one was decided by a touchdown or less (they beat Cleveland by 14).
The Giants can’t run the ball, the passing game is only middle of the road, and they don’t exactly score a lot either (20.4 points/game)—which means they have to count on their defense they spent a small fortune on during the offseason.
For the price they paid to get their defense—it sucks (we’re talking $200+ million in contracts for the 17th best defense in the league). Losing a leader and playmaker like Jason Pierre-Paul certainly isn’t going to help (hernia surgery). Even at full strength, the Giants run defense ranks just 28th in the league. Without JPP, the defense is going to have a very hard time slowing Ezekiel Elliot down, let alone stopping him.
If they try to have the safeties play up to help against the run, Dak Prescott will feed Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant all day long. Prescott has already stated that he is looking forward to the rematch:
“I’m looking forward to it a lot personally, and then I know this team (is),” Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott said. “They’re the only blemish on our record right now. And just to be able to go up there at their place and be able to do what they did to us the first game, we’re excited for the opportunity.”
Prescott, Elliot, and the rest of the Cowboys have grown quite a bit as a team since their opening season loss to the Giants. Had Tony Romo been able to return in Week Two no one would have blinked or questioned the decision to bench Dak Prescott. But now—well, we already know the answer to that.
As for the Giants—their running game is still terrible, and there is obviously an issue going on with Odell Beckham Jr. and the team. He knows they don’t like him talking about the refs, he’s apologized for doing it, but he still does it. Some will say it isn’t important, but it does show a level of immaturity that can be harmful to the team moving forward.
As for Sunday night, Dallas wants to lock up the division title. There is no telling what is going to show up on the defensive side of the ball, but Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot may do enough on their own to cover their deficiencies. They want to clear up the one blemish on their young records—and they probably will.