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Key Matchups: Brandin Cooks has opportunity to break out


FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys will look to bounce back from a nail-biting loss to the Philadelphia Eagles when they return home to AT&T Stadium looking to extend their home-winning streak to 12 against the New York Giants.

The first matchup against the Giants in week one allowed for the defense to fill up the stat sheet on all three levels and a similar opportunity awaits on Sunday afternoon. Offensively, CeeDee Lamb had a big day against the Giants at MetLife Stadium and this time around it could be his counterpart filling up the stat sheet.

Here are the key matchups for Sunday afternoon's matchup against the Giants.

Brandin Cooks vs. Deonte Banks/Cor'Dale Flott

There's been a lot of talk this week about Brandin Cooks and his lack of involvement in the offense through eight weeks (17 receptions for 165 yards), but there could be an opportunity for the 10-year veteran to take advantage of an inexperienced and depleted secondary on Sunday afternoon.

Cooks will see a variety of different matchups on Sunday afternoon, but what he will see on a consistent basis is man coverage with the Giants running more man than any team in the NFL. As a result, there should be opportunities for Cooks to get loose over the top of the defense and finally find some mass production in the Cowboys offense.

Giants first round pick Deonte Banks will be the highlight of the secondary for the division rivals with Adoree Jackson ruled out with a concussion, but also expect Cooks to line up against Cor'Dale Flott in the slot.

DeMarcus Lawrence vs. Tyre Phillips

While the box score might tell a different story, DeMarcus Lawrence's presence off the edge has been plentiful so far in 2023 both in disrupting the run and in forcing the quarterback out of the pocket in helping to set up others for impact plays.

However, there could be an opportunity waiting for Lawrence in lining up against backup right tackle Tyre Phillips on Sunday afternoon with Evan Neal ruled out with injury. We've seen Lawrence cause most of his disruption in the run game, and the Giants will have to lean on Saquon Barkley to find any offensive success.

As a result, I see Lawrence getting active in what he does best: defending the run. His opportunity to fill the stat sheet is similar to Cooks, but instead of it being as a result of a fault in scheme, it's as a result of a fault in personnel.

Tyler Biadasz vs. Dexter Lawrence

In games like this one where the Cowboys enter as heavy favorites, an opportunity exists to get certain aspects of both sides of the ball going that they maybe haven't had an opportunity to perfect through eight games, and one aspect I'll be looking at closely is the running game.

In going up against a quality run defender in Dexter Lawrence up front, generating push in the interior of the offensive line will be critical in opening up running lanes for Tony Pollard. Lawrence will line up opposite of all three interior linemen, but the matchup I'll be looking at the closest is Tyler Biadasz.

When lined up over center, will Lawrence be able to find most of his success or can Biadasz stack good reps against a quality run defender in helping to facilitate a good day for Tony Pollard?

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