Thanksgiving is a dreaded holiday for a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans. America’s Team has lost seven of their last ten and three years in a row on Thanksgiving. This year though, the Cowboys are coming off of the largest road win in franchise history to face a New York Giants team that just got embarrassed by the Detroit Lions. Things could certainly be different on Turkey Day in Dallas this year. With all that in mind, let’s dive into some Cowboys bold predictions for Week 12 on Thanksgiving vs. the rival New York Giants.
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4. The Giants will follow the blueprint on offense
Some of the teams that found offensive success against Dallas recently all followed a common theme: run right at Micah Parsons. Even the Bears put up almost 30 points by running read-option plays to Parsons’ side of the field and making him pick his poison. Not every team has the personnel to do that. Minnesota might have tried if they hadn’t been forced to play catch-up all game, but it’s hard to imagine Kirk Cousins making plays with his legs.
Daniel Jones is a much stronger candidate to make that happen. Between Jones and the resurgent Saquon Barkley, the Giants have one of the more mobile backfields in football. New York played with the concept when the Cowboys met in Week 3. Barkley ran nine of his 14 carries in that game to the right side, where Parsons often lines up when DeMarcus Lawrence isn’t on the field, for 71 of his 81 total rushing yards. A look at some of the Cowboys’ other opponents over the last few weeks reveals a similar trend. Khalil Herbert, David Montgomery, and Justin Fields combined for 39 carries against the Cowboys in Week 8. 19 of those went to the right side. Two weeks later, Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon ran 20 of their 37 carries to the right.
Dan Quinn does a good job of moving Parsons around to show the offense different looks, but Jones is a good enough scrambler to make plays on the fly. Running the ball at Micah Parsons is the only way defenses have found to neutralize the second-year phenom. The Giants have the players to do it. Expect them to try on Thanksgiving.
3. Saquon Barkley has a career night
Given that the Giants’ offense should be committed to running the ball against Dallas, Barkley figures to be the centerpiece of the team as usual on Thanksgiving. The Giants’ receiving corps is pitiful, and Jones doesn’t have much time in the pocket to get them the ball week in and week out. Against the best pass rush in football, Jones could be a non-factor.
After the Cowboys’ defense let the Packers have whatever they wanted in the ground game, many expected Dalvin Cook to put up gaudy numbers the following week. Cook got scripted out of the game early because the Vikings had to air the ball out to try to get back in the game, but the Minnesota running back still had a fairly productive afternoon. Cook racked up 72 rushing yards on just 11 carries and averaged nearly five yards after contact per carry. Dominant as the Dallas defense was, they had a hard time dragging down the physical Cook. Barkley is another physical running back and the Giants are far more reliant on him than the Vikings are on Cook. Thursday afternoon in Dallas should feature a big game from Barkley.
2. Daniel Jones scrambles as much as he throws
The Cowboys’ pass rush hit a new high in Minnesota. Dallas pressured the quarterback 26 times in Week 11 and racked up seven sacks in the game. It doesn’t seem likely that the Cowboys replicate that exact performance against a mobile passer like Daniel Jones, but the circumstances are lining up to allow Parsons and the rest of the Cowboys pass rush to send Jones running all night long.
New York Daily News Giants beat writer Pat Leonard tweeted Wednesday morning that center Jon Feliciano, tackle Evan Neal, and guards Josh Ezeudu and Shane Lemieux would not travel with the team to Dallas for Thanksgiving. Neal, Feliciano, and Lemieux are all starters on the Giants’ offensive line.
The Giants’ line was much more healthy when the Cowboys visited New York in Week 3. In that game, Jones scrambled seven times to his 37 pass attempts. On Thanksgiving, those two numbers should be a lot closer in value.
1. Dak Prescott continues to gain confidence
Dak Prescott’s dominant afternoon in Minneapolis was a sight for sore eyes for Dallas after the Packers loss. Aside from the sheer numbers he put up, Prescott was seen doing some of the things that he normally does when he is at his best. He rolled out of the pocket and threw on the move, he picked up first downs with his legs, he threw receivers open, and he looked generally more confident than he did at Lambeau Field a week prior.
The Minnesota game was Prescott’s fifth start of the season and just his fourth since returning from surgery on his throwing hand thumb. As the season wears on and Prescott continues to get his legs under him, he should only get better with time. A soft home matchup on Thanksgiving against the reeling Giants provides an excellent opportunity for Prescott to keep moving forward.