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X Factors

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X Factors: 10 elite difference-makers for NYG/DAL


FRISCO, Texas – Who's going to be the difference come Sunday night?

We've seen over the years that while it could be the guys we're expecting, sometimes it's a player that comes out of nowhere.

Since the Super Bowl is always the goal for every team, we decided to rank the Top 10 X-factors for the Cowboys and Giants, using roman numerals, since 10 = X.

Here we go, these 10 guys will likely be big difference-makers one way or another.

  • X – Daniel Jones – If he's going to take the step onto the next level as one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, a win over the Cowboys Sunday night would certainly help his cause. Last year, winning a road playoff game was big for Jones and the entire organization but he hasn't had great success against the Cowboys. One thing that could help him turn it around is his ability to run out of the pocket.
  • IX – Saquon Barkley – The explosive running backs had a big touchdown run in the third quarter of last year's game against the Cowboys in Week 3. That type of play is one that shows his dynamic playmaking skills, coupled with his ability to be dangerous in space.
  • VIII – Darren Waller – This will be just the third time Waller has faced the Cowboys in his career, and first with the Giants since he coming over from the Raiders. Waller has the ability to stretch the field vertically, evident by his five TDs of 20+ yards.
  • VII – Evan Neal – The No. 7 overall pick of the Giants in 2022 had some bumps in the road at times last year as a rookie, but we're going to find out really quick how much progress he's made in Year 2. While Micah Parsons will rush from all over the field, he'll face the right tackle quite a bit and that's where Neal should be as well.
  • VI - Jake Ferguson - Expect Ferguson to take the lead role in the TEs room for the Cowboys, but with rookie second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker in the mix (along with Peyton Hendershot), he's got plenty of motivation to fly out of the gates in Week 1. It'll be difficult for the Giants to commit any real help to Ferguson with Lamb, Cooks and Gallup on the move, and Cowboys' tight ends have been known to break open games at MetLife Stadium.
  • V - Tony Pollard - He's been a starter at times for the Cowboys, when Ezekiel Elliott was absent due to injury, but this year is an entirely different story for Pollard. With Elliott gone, Pollard is the lead man for the first time in his NFL career (and in his football career, on the whole) and he's motivated to prove he can be one of the best RB1 talents in the league ... and that he can command a higher price on a multi-year deal.
  • IV – Cowboys LG1 - Tyler Smith is the starting left guard for the Cowboys, and that should make the team feel fantastic about the starting five on the offensive line. The problem is Smith is dealing with a hamstring strain that has cost him more than one practice going into Week 1, and his status for the game is yet to be decided (though there is at least some optimism). This means there's a possibility the myriad of questions regarding the OL depth might take center stage — early.
  • III - Brandin Cooks - Speaking of Cooks, this season is as much about potentially helping the Cowboys overcome their Super Bowl drought as it is at having the chance to make NFL history. If Cooks racks up 1,000 yards this season, it will mark the most ever by a player who will have hit that mark with five different teams. For his first act, he'll go up against a young secondary in New York, one he might take full advantage of — potentially helping CeeDee Lamb detonate in the process.
  • II – Micah Parsons – Speaking of Micah, he's been unblockable in practice during training camp. And that could be a tribute to the Cowboys' lack of depth at tackle, but it seems more likely that Parsons is ready to take his game to an even greater level in his third year. Playing at the Giants, where Lawrence Taylor was arguably one of the greatest defensive players ever, Parsons has a chance to prove if these comparisons are legitimate.
  • I - Dak Prescott - He's heard it all season: 15 interceptions. That's how many Prescott threw in 2022, with mixed accountability, marking a career-high in the category. Will the fire to prove his doubters wrong, along with the addition of Brandin Cooks and Deuce Vaughn, push him to a stellar start to open this season in New York? All signs point to yes, and the Cowboys are anxiously awaiting the show.

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