When New York Giants star safety Landon Collins has taken shots at the Dallas Cowboys offense, it hasn't exactly gone his team's way. The Cowboys and Giants have split the six meetings since Collins joined the team, with the Cowboys sweeping them in Dak Prescott's second year (after being swept in 2016 for two of three losses).
Getting off to a horrendous start in year three though, Prescott and the Cowboys face a “must-win” NFC East match up against the 0-1 Giants. Collins and the Giants defense presents a similar challenge to that of the Carolina Panthers.
This is a defense not afraid to load the box against Ezekiel Elliott, which often means playing Collins down in the box to create a numbers advantage. Even without Collins flashing much on the stat sheet in any meeting with the Cowboys, his team has limited Ezekiel Elliott to an average of 87.3 yards in three meetings.
This is at least 10 yards less than Elliott averages against the Eagles (2 meetings) and Redskins.
Landon Collins: “We really just have to focus on stopping Zeke. We need to make sure we're playing our gap assignments and make sure we [take] the air out of their running game. Put the ball into Dak's hands and I think we have a better shot at winning.” https://t.co/rboXOkIVGY
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 12, 2018
Simply put, the Giants are just one of the latest teams to force Dak Prescott to beat them. A quarterback capable of doing so a year ago, the list of teams finding success by putting the ball in Dak's hand is growing at an alarming rate for Dallas, ever since the second half of 2017.
The Panthers did so a week ago, and the Cowboys still don't seem eager to change much of their approach on offense. Remember when Prescott promised to his critics that he wouldn't be a one-year-wonder, thanks to his ability to also game plan against the opposing defense? Nobody told him at the time that his own offensive coordinator wouldn't let him.
Divisional match ups are always about familiarity, and the team that handles this along with the emotions of Sunday Night Football the best will likely come out on top this week. Landon Collins may have only bad memories of challenging Cowboys quarterbacks, but plenty of reason as a leader for the Giants defense to be confident in his group for week two.
This is what happened last time Landon Collins challenged the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants lost to the Cowboys in his first ever NFL game. pic.twitter.com/r8t6svbcPP
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) September 12, 2018
This week's game has a similar feel to a stretch for the Cowboys last season. Determined to shake his 0-2 career record against the Giants, Prescott and the Cowboys won a decisive 19-3 season opener before traveling to Denver and playing on empty – falling 42-17.
The Cowboys have created a more difficult path towards 1-1 this year by starting 0-1, but if their “Denver game” is behind them, a win against the Giants could be exactly what's needed to get things on track.
Whether it's Prescott or Elliott leading them to victory will matter little for the Cowboys, and more so for a Giants team confident they can slow both on their way to a road win in the NFC East.