FRISCO, Texas – Here's a look at the two biggest keys I'm looking at heading into the regular season finale.
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
This appears to be a difficult game to gauge from the outside, because, other than Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett, nobody is really sure how long the starters will play. Depending on who you visit with on the other side of The Star, the starters could go one series or a full half.
I will say that Jason Garrett has been consistent throughout his coaching career in that, when he says he's preparing to play the game to win, then you have to believe him. I do respect his attitude, because there are only 16 of these games and the idea is to try and win them all. But at what price do you tax your team knowing that you're locked into a certain position as far as the playoff seeding goes and that you really don't know when your next game might take place?
This is the tricky part of Garrett's job. Player for player, Garrett's squad is better than Pat Shurmur's squad. So how quickly Garrett acts in keeping his starters on the field or pulling them out will directly affect the outcome of this game. With his starters on the field, Garrett can straight up defeat the Giants -- but without those starters the task becomes a little more difficult.
Unlike a preseason game, Garrett only has 46 players to work with, so he can't pull them all. Keep an eye on the ones he leaves on the field. This will be an indication that he's serious about grabbing this victory or just playing out the season.
New York Giants Win If:
It has been an up-and-down season for the New York Giants. After such a poor start, there was a little burst with victories against the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, and they were trending toward finishing with a .500 record. But back-to-back defeats to the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts threw that idea out the window.
The Giants are now playing for nothing more than pride. The lone bright spot for them has been the play of rookie Saquon Barkley. He has been nothing short of brilliant for an offense that needed a true play maker other than Odell Beckham Jr. I have said this many times, because I've now had the opportunity to witness both men play, but Saquon Barkley is the closest thing I've seen to Barry Sanders in all my years of working in the NFL. Barkley is the total package, as was Sanders. He gets the ball in his hands and as a defender you hold your breath due to their ability to score from anywhere on the field.
For the Giants to win this game, it's going to ride on the shoulders of their star running back. The Cowboys held him to a season-low 28 yards the last time these two clubs met. The Giants can't afford for that to happen again. If Saquon Barkley has over 125 yards rushing and another 70 yards through the air, the Giants will be able to close this game out.