It’s Giants at Cowboys week! You know what that means. Well, yes, cheerleader pictures. More to the point, though, it means a ‘5 questions’ segment with Dave Halprin of Blogging The Boys. Dave and I have been swapping these questions since 2007. Let’s get to this edition and see where it goes.
Ed: At 3-1, are Dallas fans already beginning to taste a division title?
Dave: I think it’s fair to say that Cowboys fans are feeling somewhat confident the team can win the NFC East this year (standard disclaimer: it’s early, and anything can happen in the NFL). The Cowboys as a team are certainly playing better than they were last year, even when Dak Prescott was healthy. The turnaround in the defense is one of the main factors giving the fans confidence that this year can be different. Also, with the Washington Football Team having so many problems and their defense playing nothing like it did last year, they don’t seem as formidable as they did coming into the season. It feels like the Giants and the Eagles are still finding their way in competing for the NFC East, so by default, and by the fact the Cowboys are playing so well right now, the NFC East seems in reach.
Ed: From the outside looking in, do you think the Giants are closer to the team that started 0-3 or the team that went into New Orleans and won with an excellent offensive performance last week?
Dave: This one is tough because the Saints have been all over the map as a team this year. They crushed the Packers, a very good team, but then got blown out by the Panthers, another good team. They rebounded against a struggling Pats team, then lost in overtime at home to the Giants. So it’s really hard to get a handle on just who the Saints are without Drew Brees this season. I guess I would have to see the Giants knock off a few more teams to think that they are more the Week 4 Giants than the Week 1-3 Giants. They have that opportunity this week against the Cowboys, so if they can win inside the division and get to 2-3, then there is enough evidence to believe a turnaround might be happening. For now, though, I can’t muster up the confidence to say they have turned a corner. They need to do more in the positive direction first.
Ed: You can take one player off the Giants’ roster and put him in the Dallas lineup. Who is it going to be? Why?
Dave: I recognize the talent of Saquon Barkley, but the Cowboys running game is doing just fine. Leonard Williams is an intriguing option along the defensive line, but the Cowboys seem to have found some players there. So give me corner James Bradberry. The Cowboys have a stud outside corner in Trevon Diggs, but the rest of the cornerbacks are average, at best. If Dallas could pair Diggs with Bradberry, the defense would get a huge boost. I get that Bradberry’s 2021 season hasn’t been as strong as last year, but given his historical data, I’m taking him.
Ed: Micah Parsons is a guy we loved in the draft process and thought the Giants might select. They moved down and took Kadarius Toney instead. Parsons is drawing rave reviews. How good is the kid?
Dave: It’s only a four-game sample, but Parsons has been phenomenal. I mean, he really has been that good, not just rookie good, but stud veteran kind of good. The Cowboys use him as a linebacker, but because of injury they have also used hima s a defensive end. He’s just excelled. His physical gifts are unique. His burst off the line, his agility in working the pass rush, his closing speed and his sure tackling have all added up to a difference maker on the Cowboys defense. It’s hard to explain how excited Cowboys fans are about Parsons. The fanbase wanted a cornerback in the first round of the draft, and there was palpable disappointment when Parsons was picked. No longer. Dallas got a stud who is only going to get better as he learns the nuances of the NFL game and refines his pass rush knowledge and moves.
Ed: The Giants win if what happens? The Cowboys win if what happens?
Dave: The Giants win this game if they win the turnover margin by two or more. The Cowboys defense has been very opportunistic so far this season with Trevon Diggs leading the way with five interceptions. The offense has been very good about not turning the ball over. The Cowboys offense is going to score unless they continually turn the ball over, so keeping their points total lower while providing the Giants offense with a few extra opportunities is probably the best way to pull off a win for the visitors. The Cowboys win if their offensive line plays like it has been. The Cowboys can run the ball with the best of teams, and that sets them up for everything else. As long as the Cowboys offensive line keeps opening huge holes, then the running backs will feed and Dak Prescott will have opportunities in the passing game when he wants them.