The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a disappointing week one effort that saw them fall at the hands of the Carolina Panthers 16-8. On the offensive side of the ball there wasn't a lot to get excited about, but the defensive side showed the potential that we've been excited about all offseason.
They're a unit that has lived up to the high expectations placed on them during the preseason. They have the talent and the coaching to make plays and to help keep opposing offenses at bay. Hopefully the offense can turn it on and make this a complete team.
They'll need to figure it out in a hurry with division rival the New York Giants coming to town in an must-win week two matchup.
Yes, you read that right. This is a must-win game for both of these teams.
HOU @ TEN
LAC @ BUF
DET @ SF
NYG @ DAL
SEA @ CHI
Over 90% of 0-2 teams miss the NFL playoffs. We have five elimination games this week https://t.co/Y37WqHG7SM pic.twitter.com/JIfI1YTZtl
Both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants opened the season with a loss, which means that the loser of this game will have a slim chance to make the playoffs. As Justis Mosqueda points out, teams that start the season 0-2 have only made the playoffs 10% of the time.
So, pretty much a must-win. The Dallas Cowboys have playoff aspirations in 2018 and if they want to make the playoffs, they need to win this game.
The Dallas Cowboys have done it before. As Jerry Jones pointed out on 105.3 The Fan Tuesday morning, they started 0-2 and won a Super Bowl. It can happen, but it puts your team playing catch up to make the playoffs.
Well, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, lets take a look at this week's matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 64-46-2. Under Jason Garrett's tenure, they're 9-7 including winning the last two games in 2017.
It was an important opening week for Dak Prescott last season as the narrative that he couldn't beat the New York Giants was being thrown around like it was a fact. He made short order of that narrative with a 19-3 victory in week one last season.
Then again in December of last season, amidst a really poor stretch of football, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys went out and beat the Giants 30-10. In that game Dak threw for 332 yards, three touchdowns and posted a passer rating of 137.1. The Dallas Cowboys played that game without Ezekiel Elliott.
Inside The Numbers
One of my favorite stats when we talk about the New York Giants is to remind everyone that Eli Manning has averaged an interception per game for his career. He continued that pace in week one with an interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which isn't necessarily an indication of Eli's play as the Jaguars boast the best secondary in the NFL.
Eli Manning could be in for a career year with new Head Coach Pat Shurmur, who helped Case Keenum cash in with the Denver Broncos after his stellar year in Minnesota.
The Dallas Cowboys had opportunities to create turnovers last week, but were unable to cash in. They'll get chances again this week, but the need to catch those balls that get thrown the defenses' way.
The amount of times that Dak Prescott has had a passer rating over 90 in the last eight games. Prior to week nine of 2017, he had a passer rating greater than 90 18 times in his first 25 games.
Something is different about Dak Prescott over the last eight games of his career. Whether it's coaching or mechanics or play calling or his supporting cast, something's different.
He needs a bounce back game.
Dak Prescott's 83.3 completion percentage when getting rid of the football in under 2.5 seconds is third in the NFL. He was 10 of 12, had a quarterback rating of 95.5, and was only sacked twice. On the flip side, when he held the ball longer than 2.5 seconds, he was 9 of 17, had a passer rating of 67.5, and was sacked four times.
Moral of the story. Get the ball out of your hands quicker Dak.
The New York Giants allowed 4.9 yards per carry to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one. The Dallas Cowboys were slightly better with a yards per carry allowed of 4.6.
In week one, both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants allowed less than 5 yards per play. The Giants only allowed 4.9 yards per play which was 11th in the NFL in week one. The Dallas Cowboys only allowed 4.8 yards per play, good for ninth in the league.
Both teams will have a chance to improve upon that number in week two if Dak Prescott or Eli Manning prove incapable of pushing the ball down the field.
The Dallas Cowboys six sacks allowed in week one to the Carolina Panthers is tied for the second most allowed in the NFL in week one with the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks. Only the Cleveland Browns had more sacks allowed.
Dak Prescott held the ball an average of 2.98 seconds per attempt last week. Excluding Lamar Jackson, who only had six pass attempts, Prescott's average time to attempt was the fourth longest time in the NFL. Only Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and DeShaun Watson had longer times to attempt in the opening week of the season.
Cole Beasley's seven receptions are tied for 15th in the NFL. Equal to Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Tyreek Hill, Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, and Jarvis Landry. His 73 yards receiving is 30th in the NFL after one week.
This has a chance to be a huge year for Beasley as he's on pace for 112 receptions at this point and his first 1,000 yard season. That would be really good timing for him in a contract year.
Odell Beckham Jr. just got paid and he rewarded the New York Giants with 11 catches for 111 yards in their week one loss against the Jacksonville Jaquars. Those 11 receptions are second in the NFL to Michael Thomas' 16 for the New Orleans Saints.
Beckham was most effective going over the middle of the field where he caught 6 of 8 targets for 58 yards. When he was targeted by Eli Manning over the middle and greater than 10 yards, Manning had a passer rating of 102.1. Manning's passer rating was 88.3 when targeting OBJ over the middle and less than 10 yards down field.
Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee better get ready for a heavy dose of Beckham in the middle of the field. That's the same area of the field where Christian McCaffrey did most of his damage in week one.
The amount of points the New York Giants scored in week one against the vaunted Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Giants had a chance at the end of the game to take the lead before turning it over on downs with a little more than a minute left to play.
The Dallas Cowboys 232 total yards in week one has them ranked 30th in the NFL only in front of the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills. Coincidentally, those are the only two teams who scored fewer than the Dallas Cowboys eight points last week.
It's only been a week, but that's not good company to be in.
Taco Charlton tied for the team lead in snaps with Defensive Tackle Antwuan Woods on Sunday with 49. That was one more than DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford.
In those 49 snaps, Charlton had two pressures, three total tackles, and a pass defensed.
Cornerback Anthony Brown received the best coverage grade from Pro Football Focus at 78.3, which was slightly better than Byron Jones at 77.
Heading into 2018, it was assumed that Brown would be the odd man out in nickel situations given the play of Jourdan Lewis in 2017, but Brown has held him off and maintained a role with the Dallas Cowboys defense.
In the loss, he was targeted only twice, allowed only one reception, and was credited with a “stop.” PFF defines a stop as a play that results in a “loss” for the defense.
DeMarcus Lawrence had a heck of a game against the Carolina Panthers in week one. He totaled five tackles, five “stops,” one sack, four tackles for loss, and four hurries. He was the Dallas Cowboys best player in week one and is off to a great start to lead the team in sacks again in 2018.
Saquon Barkley's 106 rushing yards are third in the NFL heading into week two. That done on 18 carries with a 62 yard long, which gives him a 5.9 yards per carry. If you remove the 62 yard run for a touchdown, then he had yard per carry of 2.58.
He's an explosive player that can take the ball for a score when he touches it. The Dallas Cowboys will have to play sound defense to limit his opportunities to get into the open field.
Stat of the Week
Last season, #Dak put up 13/18 for 183 yards, two touchdowns, and took one sack against James Bettcher's defense last year when he was the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator.
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) September 12, 2018
Statistics taken from Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference.