Keys to Victory

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Keys To Victory: Keeping It "Clean" Is A Must

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The Giants have some momentum after winning their first game of the season last Sunday in overtime over the Saints. But the Cowboys have much more than that, winning three straight games to establish themselves as one of the hottest teams in the league.

But does any of that matter when these two division rivals square off this week?

Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Giants and Cowboys.

The Giants will win if…

The Giants will walk away with a win if Daniel Jones and the offense are able to pick up where it left off in Week 4. The third-year pro enjoyed a career day against the Saints with a 400-yard game that showcased his dynamic talents as a dual-threat playmaker. Jones is posting career-bests in completion percentage (66.7%), passing yards per game (296.0), and passer rating (98.3) while joining Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts as the only NFL players with 1,000-plus passing yards and 150-plus rushing yards this season. He is surrounded by a cast of playmakers with the potential to score from anywhere on the field.

Whether it is Saquon Barkley putting the ball in the paint as a runner or receiver or Kenny Golloday, Kadarius Toney or Evan Engram running through the secondary, the Giants have enough firepower to put 30-plus points on the board. If Jones gets sufficient protection in the pocket, the sparks could fly with Giants gaining more confidence in Jason Garrett's system.

Defensively, the Giants are a high motor outfit with a mix of veterans and young players hustling to the ball. The energetic, hard-nosed approach displayed by the G-Men jumps off the screen in a league in which effort can be perceived as optional. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham utilizes a complex set of front and coverage calls to take away the opponents' top players and favorite plays, as he attempts to make the Cowboys move away from their offensive strengths. If the Giants are able to dictate the terms on defense, they can force the Cowboys into a hard-hitting sixty-minute game that reveals some cracks in the Cowboys' armor.

The Cowboys will win if…

The Cowboys can keep the momentum rolling by playing a clean game of complementary football. The team must focus on winning the critical battles that routinely decide the outcome of games. From winning the turnover battle to minimizing their turnovers, penalties, and big plays allowed, the Cowboys must excel in the "DBO" (Don't Beat Ourselves) categories to add a mark in the win column.

The offense, in particular, must adhere to an efficient game plan that enables them to rely on their stars to make enough plays to win. Starting the Dak Prescott and the perimeter playmakers, the Cowboys must take what the defense allows without losing their patience or discipline hunting for big plays. No.4 simply needs to get the ball to the open receiver and force the defense to defend every blade of grass/turf on the field. While most of the ball will go to Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, the emergence of Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin as reliable chain movers could change the equation for the Giants. The tight end duo has been effective between the numbers and their athleticism could create some mismatches over the middle.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are arguably the best running back tandem in football with complementary playing styles that mesh like a jig-saw puzzle. They have keyed the Cowboys' run game resurgence with impressive performances in each of the past three weeks.

On defense, Dan Quinn must get his guys to play hard against an opponent viewed as an easy win. The ultra-energetic defensive coordinator will need to see a focused effort from a unit that needs to display maturity and poise as a favorite. Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, and Randy Gregory should make a number of plays against an offense that has struggled in the past with turnovers and negative plays. If the Cowboys are able to create disruption early in the game, the defense should be able to close things out in the fourth quarter.

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