The Dallas Cowboys are coming back from a bye to play the Giants this week. With every game of the season there will be things to watch and pay attention to. Here are five things to watch for in week 9.
1. Can the Defense Keep Forcing Turnovers?
Against the Eagles in week 7, the Cowboys had a great game and forced some turnovers. The defense forced four turnovers in that game. As of late, they have forced more turnovers, which is good news as they head into the back half of the season and look to make a playoff push.
There is more opportunity for turnovers this week against the Giants. Daniel Jones has struggled with turnovers in recent weeks and can be pressured into mistakes. The Cowboys also had an extra week to prepare for this game, so they should know what Jones is going to do before he does it. Keeping the momentum going in forcing turnovers would be huge for this team.
2. Will Saquon Barkley be Contained?
The biggest threat for the Giants is running back Saquon Barkley. He is finally back from injury and is playing well. In the first game against the Cowboys this season, Barkley was mostly bottled up by the Dallas defense. He did leak out for one 59 yard run, but that accounted for almost half of his 120 rushing yards on the day.
Dallas’ defense has played much better since the opening week and with Jones at quarterback, they can stack the box to stop Barkley. If they can limit Barkley in this game, Dallas will only have a slim chance to drop this game on the road.
3. Michael Bennett’s Debut
On their bye week, the Cowboys made a move to acquire Michael Bennett. He was on the Patriots’ vaunted defense, but he wasn’t getting many reps. Bennett also had a disagreement with his position coach, Bret Bielema, which resulted in him getting suspended for one game. He still has some football left in the tank though, as he’ll join the Cowboys for this game.
Bennett will join a good defensive line that features DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn. It will be interesting to see how they use Bennett, as he has the flexibility to move inside and out. He can play a role much like Tyrone Crawford did before being injured. His presence could make the defensive line way better for the rest of the season.
4. Ezekiel Elliot’s Play
Ezekiel Elliot has had a solid start to the season, but has three games of under 65 yards this season. One of those games came against the Giants in week 1, as he was coming off his holdout and was rusty. In his latest game against the Eagles, Elliot had one of his best games of the season with 22 carries for 111 yards. He’ll need to keep things going to help the Cowboys control the clock.
New York’s defense isn’t very good this season, which means the second time around, Elliot should have a much better game. The Giants did just acquire Leonard Williams, but even that shouldn’t be enough to really slow Elliot down. A good game for Elliot would help the team be flexible with their playcalling down the stretch.
5. Will the Playcalling Continue to be Switched Up?
Before the Eagles game, the Cowboys were on a three-game losing streak. Some of that had to do with injuries, but a lot of it had to do with the playcalling. The Cowboys were running the ball on first down a lot and were rarely using play-action, something they excel at. They should change things up on first down and run play-action, but it is hard to tell if they will do it consistently.
Because they are coming off of a bye, the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, should be able to analyze what was working and what wasn’t. It will be a good sign for the rest of the year if Moore sticks to what was working the first three weeks of the season.