Winning the NFC East becomes a longshot with a loss on Thanksgiving Day, hiking the stakes for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
Dallas has won 10 of the past 11 over their rivals, who meet for the second time this season following a 23-16 Cowboys’ victory on Sept. 26 at East Rutherford, N.J.
The rematch arrives as the Cowboys host a game on Thanksgiving for the 45th consecutive season. Dallas has lost three straight on Turkey Day and looks to end the slide at Arlington, Texas.
If it’s a three-horse race in the East, worth noting is the Giants are hobbled and the Cowboys are far from a picture of health.
New York’s offensive line will be formed only after left tackle Andrew Thomas’ health status is declared on Thursday morning. He was listed as questionable while bookend tackle Evan Neal (knee), center Jon Feliciano (neck) and guard Shane Lemieux (toe) all missed the team flight to Texas.
Rookie guard Joshua Ezeudu (neck) is also staying home due to injury.
The Cowboys (7-3) enter against New York (7-3) on a high note after steamrolling the host Minnesota Vikings 40-3 on Sunday, but both teams are well off the pace set by division-leading Philadelphia (9-1).
Tony Pollard had a career-best 189 yards from scrimmage (80 rushing, 109 receiving) and caught two touchdown passes in the stunningly easy victory.
Star linebacker Micah Parsons and defensive end Dorance Armstrong each had two of Dallas’ seven sacks against Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Cowboys lead the NFL in sacks (42) and scoring defense (16.7 points per game) and rank ninth in total defense (310.6 yards per game).
Parsons, who ranks second in the NFL with 10 sacks, injured his left knee and ankle against the Vikings. He maintains he will be ready to play but was limited Wednesday, as was defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (foot/illness). Dallas is without likely without defensive linemen Tarell Basham and Johnathan Hankins due to illness.
“I just got rolled up. I felt like everyone on the line just kind of fell on my leg,” Parsons said. “It was a quick shot — I’ve never had that (pain) before. But my health is great. The knee is cool, definitely in a positive manner.”
Dallas sacked New York quarterback Daniel Jones five times during the September victory with Lawrence registering three of them.
But Jones also rushed for 79 yards and recorded first downs on seven of his nine rushing attempts, passing for 196 yards with one interception.
“Daniel Jones is a phenomenal quarterback when it comes down to things breaking down and him using his legs,” Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse said. “He’s a pretty mobile quarterback when it comes to that. Everything coming from me boils down to guys just doing their jobs.”
The Giants had a disappointing 31-18 home loss to the Detroit Lions last week. Jones passed for 341 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and ran for a score.
Star running back Saquon Barkley was limited to 22 yards on 15 carries. Barkley is second in the NFL in rushing yardage (953) and fourth in scrimmage yards (1,163). The setback was the second in three games following New York’s surprising 6-1 start.
“We’re not going to panic. We’re not going to worry. We’re not going to waver at all,” Barkley said.
Giants coach Brian Daboll is expecting a turnaround against the Cowboys.
“They’ll respond,” Daboll said. “… We’re in an outcome, results-oriented business. We all understand that. But the things that we do during the week, the work we put in, how we study, that’s what’s important to me. Obviously, we want to win every game. But I think you stay consistent. We’re going to go through our preparation. And then we’re going to go out and try to play the best we can play Thursday.”
Prescott did not play in the first meeting this season due to a thumb injury. He has thrown 21 touchdown passes against five interceptions in 11 career games against the Giants.
“Dak is a premier quarterback in this league. He has a lot of strengths; he does a lot of things well,” Daboll said. “They’ve been scoring a lot of points. So, they have their offense that they run, and they’re really good at it.”
New York lost wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson to a season-ending ACL tear in his right knee against the Lions and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (knee) is expected to miss at least four weeks with a sprained MCL.
Cowboys linebacker Anthony Barr (hamstring) will miss his third straight game. Running back Ezekiel Elliott (knee) was removed from the injury report Wednesday after full participation in practice. He scored two touchdowns last week at Minnesota.
–Field Level Media
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