The Cowboys want to be at their best in the playoffs, and that includes approaching Sunday's regular-season finale the right way.
As the team looks to finish the regular season strong, here are the DallasCowboys.com staff's 'gut feelings' for the noon (Central) matchup at MetLife Stadium:
Nick Eatman: This one isn't as easy to call because we're hearing all this stuff about the Cowboys saying they will play to win this game. But there have been signs all week, especially with Friday's injury report that suggest some key players might not play the entire game. This has a feel that the Cowboys are trying to be smart, rather than trying to win this game at all costs. Don't forget the Giants defeated the Bears a few weeks ago at home. They're still playing pretty well and trying to win games. I think they wouldn't mind ending their season with a win over Dallas. I see the Giants winning this game 20-13.
Lindsay Draper: Cowboys are getting the call for the W from me, and it won't even matter who ends up playing! It almost feels silly to write about this week's matchup, when all of us are really thinking about potential playoff matchups. But truly, I think the Giants are checked out and daydreaming about that plane ticket to their booked vacations. Take this as an opportunity to scout out the future in the young Giants players B.J. Hill, Will Hernandez, and of course Saquon Barkley. Cowboys win with their young players and move to a 10-6 finish on the regular season –the record I predicted back at training camp. (My consolation prize for a rough Year 1 in my Gut Feeling record.)
David Helman: I have no idea how to feel about this game, because I don't know who all is going to play and how long they'll play for. Hopefully, we'll see some starters play long enough to establish some rhythm and some confidence heading into the playoffs. It'd be nice to see them string together some touchdown drives, but keeping everyone healthy is a much bigger priority. With all of this in mind, I'm picking the Cowboys to win. Not for any real reason, I just figure their defense will probably play well, and whoever is playing on offense will figure it out. I might be wrong, but I think the opportunity to rest some key players weighs more heavily than the final result – and I think the Cowboys agree. So, we'll see. But I'll say the Cowboys find a way to squeak out a 17-13 win.
Rob Phillips: The Giants are dealing with their share of injuries – Odell Beckham Jr. has already been ruled out for Sunday – but we also don't know exactly how the Cowboys plan to play their guys this week. If Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are held out or don't play much – both are listed as questionable this week – how might that affect snaps for others on offense? We'll just have to see how Jason Garrett handles this delicate balancing act, wanting to play well and win Sunday while also seeing the big postseason picture. My gut says we see the offense put together some solid drives, but the Giants will wrap up their season with a close win.
Mickey Spagnola: The only feeling in my gut for this game revolves around injury. Don't incur any in this game, the No. 1 priority, no matter win or lose. And the other one? The Cowboys won't allow Saquon Barkley to rush for more than 236 yards so Ezekiel Elliott can win his second NFL rushing title in three years if the Cowboys don't play Zeke and since the Rams aren't playing Todd Gurley. Those are my two predictions. As for this game, my wonder is this: Do the Giants, with their 5-10 record, already having wrapped up last place in the NFC East, have anything more to play for than the playoff-bound Cowboys? I think not, so I think Cowboys 20, Giants 17.
Bryan Broaddus: The Cowboys have been playing meaningful games since the loss to Tennessee. Road wins at Philadelphia and Atlanta, coupled with a spectacular victory against New Orleans, has allowed this front office and coaching staff the luxury to rest players if necessary. Guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith don't need to play in this game against the Giants. But guys like Taco Charlton, Jourdan Lewis and Cam Fleming do. Listening to Jason Garrett, he wants to try and win this game, but I always ask 'at what cost?' My gut feeling is that Garrett will play this smart and get his backup guys some work. If they win – great. If they lose – let's talk about the playoffs. Giants have nothing to play for but they will. Nobody wants to go into "trash bag" Monday with a loss. The Giants find a way riding the hands and feet of Saquon Barkley for a 21-17 victory. Bring on the Playoffs.