New York Giants Preview: Week 17 vs. Dallas Cowboys
This is it. The New York Giants regular season will conclude on Sunday afternoon, as they face off against their division rival in the Dallas Cowboys.
New York will be looking to end the year with their sixth win on the season. On the other side of the field, stands the Dallas Cowboys, who clinched the NFC East last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the No. 4 seed already locked in, Dallas is not expected to play their starters for the majority of the game.
Here’s what to look for in the regular season finale for the Giants.
Eli’s Last Stand?
The most intriguing storyline to follow on the Giants is Eli Manning. The team has a decision to make, and that’s whether they will keep him for next season, or if they will part ways with the two-time Super Bowl MVP in order to save $17 million in cap space.
As of this writing, reports indicate that the ongoing belief is Manning will be the starter for the Giants in 2019. With Justin Herbert returning to Oregon for his senior season, general manger Dave Gettleman will go back to the drawing board to evaluate the upcoming quarterback draft class.
Regardless of the outside noise, Manning is looking to prove his worth to the franchise, as he faces off against Dallas’ pass defense, which ranks ninth in the league. The Cowboys have allowed an average of 230.5 passing yards per game, while also surrendering just 20 touchdowns this season (fifth-fewest in NFL).
But the real question is, who will be the backup to Manning? Will Kyle Lauletta receive a second look? Or will the team keep Alex Tanney in the active lineup?
Saquon’s Quest for History
One of the brighter spots in this Giants season has been the play of 2018 first-round pick Saquon Barkley. The rookie has showcased elite rushing abilities, as well as dynamic explosiveness.
The rookie has rushed for 1,198 yards and ten touchdowns, as well as catching 87 passes for 688 yards and four scores. Entering Sunday, Barkley has the chance to make history.
Barkley is just 114 scrimmage yards away from being the third rookie to accumulate over 2,000 yards since Eric Dickerson (2,212 yards, 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 yards, 1999).
It doesn’t end there for Barkley, as he is just two receptions away from breaking Reggie Bush’s feat with the New Orleans Saints back in 2006 (88).
Barkley is not making the individual accolades his priority, as he just wants to help the team win some games. In fact, he credits his success to the team as a whole, and wants to celebrate with them, if he is to break these long-standing records. It will be interesting to see how Barkley performs against a Cowboys run-stopping unit that has allowed 91.3 yards per game (fifth-fewest in NFL).
The Giants have been bitten by the injury bug late this season, and they will be without six players against the Cowboys.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s nagging quad injury has effectively ended his season, after head coach Pat Shurmur announced that he would not be activated for the season finale. He is not the only receiver to hit the injury report, as Russell Shepard was ruled out due to an ankle injury.
Pass-blocking tight end Rhett Ellison was diagnosed with a concussion last week against the Indianapolis Colts. He is still in the league’s concussion protocol, and was effectively ruled out. In that case, expect a heavy dosage of the surging Evan Engram against Dallas.
On the defensive side of the ball, captain and starting middle linebacker Alec Ogletree has been dealing with concussion-like symptoms of his own since Week 15 against the Tennessee Titans. Undrafted rookie Tae Davis is expected to resume his increased workload. Mario Edwards will also miss the season finale due to a calf injury suffered in the early goings of last week’s Colts game. Coincidentally, Kerry Wynn is expected to return this Sunday after hurting his thumb. As a result, Wynn will be the beneficiary of Edwards’ rotational snaps.
The Giants-Cowboys game will kickoff at 1:00 p.m. ET live on FOX.
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