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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:56 PM

MNF - Cowboys at Giants

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Dallas (-6.5, 48.5) at N.Y. Giants, 8:15 pm ET, ESPN

Even though the Packers were inexplicably shut down in Carson by the Chargers and the Vikings couldn’t defeat the Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs at Arrowhead, the NFC is top-heavy enough where the Cowboys look to have no shot at a playoff berth unless they handle business in winning the ugly NFC East.

Dallas (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS) has won its first three games in the division and will be wrapping up its season series with New York (2-6, 3-5) here before finishing up 2019 with a visit to Philly and a home date with Washington in weeks 16 and 17. The Eagles took down the Bears on Sunday and have won consecutive games against two of the NFL’s top defenses after winning in Buffalo on Oct. 27, but they’ll be hosting New England and Seattle after next week’s bye and may be multiple games behind Dallas when it visits on Dec. 22.

The Cowboys hope that ends up being the case and can only take care of what they can handle, which starts with this must-win on Monday night.

How does a Week 9 fall into that category without feeling hyperbolic? Well, when your next six games feature stops in Detroit, New England, Chicago and that Week 16 visit to Philly and your only other home dates see the Bills and Rams come into town, you quickly realize that this is going to be the easiest matchup you have until the final contest of the season. Dallas rolled past the Eli Manning-led Giants 35-17 in Week 1 as a 7-point favorite and are again in that neighborhood from a point spread standpoint as it makes its annual visit to Met Life Stadium.

Win, and the Cowboys can head into Sunday’s home game against a motivated Vikings’ squad with some cushion. If they suffer an upset, a season where they were lumped in with six other NFC teams as top contenders to reach the Super Bowl could go off the rails and Jason Garrett’s already-hot seat will intensify to full out scalding proportions. After all, the Giants didn’t even hold a single lead in October. Pulling off an upset here would be tough for Dallas to overcome.



So, yes, it’s a must-win. The Cowboys can’t afford to lose to Giants rookie Daniel Jones, who comes off his most prolific offensive outing but hasn’t experienced much success since winning his first two starts. New York has dropped four consecutive games after having its comeback bid cut short in a 31-26 loss in Detroit on Oct. 26. Jones threw for four touchdowns, two to fellow rookie Darius Slayton, but couldn’t overcome his defense getting carved up by Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

The Giants need to win if they’re going to have any chance at playing meaningful football games over the season’s final two months since dropping this home game would leave them an insurmountable 3.5 games behind the Cowboys in the division. Pulling off an upset would leave them just two back of the Eagles, who would take a half-game lead into Week 10 despite being blown out in Dallas the last time we saw the ‘Boys on the field. New York will face Philadelphia twice in December.

Dallas snapped a three-game losing streak that featured an inexplicable loss to the awful Jets by dominating Philly 37-10 on Oct. 20. The Cowboys obliterated their top division rival that Sunday night, going up 14-0 in just over six minutes and ultimately building a 27-7 halftime lead. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 111 yards, Amari Cooper had a 100-yard receiving day and QB Dak Prescott threw for a score and ran for another in a dominant performance that helped ease concerns over suffering through another wasted season under Garrett, who has only reached the playoffs in three of his first eight seasons and has failed to make back-to-back appearances. It’s hard to imagine him keeping his gig if that string continues.

Garrett has been able to take advantage of the Giants over the past few seasons, so this is definitely the right matchup for him looking to sustain momentum coming off a bye week. Dallas has beaten New York five straight times, and a sixth would tie the second-longest win streak in this divisional rivalry, halfway to the all-time record of 12 notched from 1974-80. Check out the recent series results below.

With Jones getting the start, this will mark the first time the Cowboys don’t see a Giants team led by Eli Manning since facing Kurt Warner back in ’04 with Manning serving an apprenticeship in his rookie season. Jones was supposed to be simply watching if all had gone according to plan, but he quickly became New York’s best chance to win now due to his athleticism behind a porous offensive line that the less mobile Manning had no chance of remaining upright behind. As things stand, Jones has been sacked 21 times and has accounted for 16 turnovers, so the baptism by fire has indeed featured plenty of flames.

Miscues have hindered him in every one of his last five starts after a clean outing in a 32-31 win at Tampa Bay. Last week’s loss in Detroit featured him trying to get rid of a ball after failing to recognize a blitz and Jones ultimately threw the ball backward, where it was scooped up and ran in for a touchdown by Lions’ LB Devon Kennard. Jones has to avoid putting his team in a bind to truly take a step forward. Fumbling has been a major issue for the Giants, who will need to play a much cleaner game in order to produce an upset.

This matchup features two of the NFL’s top running backs in Dallas’ Elliott and New York’s Saquon Barkley, who ran for 120 yards against the Cowboys in Week 1. While New York will be relying on Barkley to help move the chains and emerge as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, expect Dallas to use Elliott as a way to soften up the Giants defense before going for the throat via the pass, which is where New York has been most vulnerable. The secondary has been lit up more often than not as opposing receivers have dominated, a trend which began immediately as Prescott threw for over 400 yards to open the season, finding Michael Gallup for 158 in addition to establishing a connection with Cooper.

The high side is a popular pick as a result since the Giants have seen the ‘over’ come in two of the past three weeks and they’ve given up 27 or more points in all but one of their outings on the season. A cloudy and cool day in the tri-state area should feature no rain, so expect clear conditions and temperatures in the high 40’s for this evening kickoff.

TOTAL TALK

Dallas enters this game with a 4-3 record to the ‘over’ while New York has watched its first eight games produce a stalemate (4-4) for bettors.

Despite the back-and-forth results, the total for this divisional matchup opened at 48 and the number has held steady as of Monday morning. Dallas hasn’t played since Week 7 and Chris David of VegasInsider.com dug up a solid total angle to watch based on the bye for the ‘Boys.

“The Cowboys will be playing with rest for this matchup and they’ve had some strong total tendencies off the bye under head coach Jason Garrett. In their last 10 regular season games with rest, Dallas has watched the ‘over’ go 9-1,” David said. “During this span the Cowboys have played three divisional opponents and they averaged 25 PPG in those contests, two of them coming versus the Giants. The Dallas team total is listed at 27 ½ for this contest and based on what we’ve seen from New York defensively, I believe the Cowboys will surpass that number.”

Bettors should note that Dallas has gone 5-5 SU and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games off the bye, which includes a 3-3 record on the road.

“New York has been listed as a home underdog twice this season and it allowed 28 points in both those games to the Vikings and Bills,” added David. “We’ve seen the Cowboys come out flat in their three losses this season but what you can’t knock them for is their production in divisional games. Going back to the 2017, Dallas has gone 13-2 both SU and ATS versus NFC East foes and that includes a 3-0 record this season behind an offense scoring 35, 31 and 37 points.”

LINE MOVEMENT

Dallas Cowboys
Projected season win total: 9 (Over -110, Under -110)
Odds to win NFC East (pre-Week 1/current): 8/5 to 4/5
Odds to win NFC (pre-Week 1/current): 9/1 to 10/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 20/1 to 20/1
 
New York Giants
Projected season win total: 6 (Over +105, Under -125)
Odds to win NFC East (pre-Week 1/current): 16/1 to 100/1
Odds to win NFC (pre-Week 1/current): 100/1 to 1000/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 200/1 to 2000/1

ODDSMAKER'S TAKE

Caesars' Senior Oddsmaker Alan Berg provides insights from behind the counter.

"We opened this one at -6.5 because we felt as a divisional road game that a full -7 was a bit high. Then we went all the way up to -7.5 and all the way back down to -6. There’s been lots of interest," said Berg, whose valuable observations can be found on Twitter at @PercentBerg. "It’s been pretty well balanced, but we’ll need the Giants when it comes to parlays."

INJURY CONCERNS

The Cowboys are unlikely to have pass rusher Leighton Vander Esch due to a neck injury. The absent linebacker’s impact may at least be mitigated by Michael Bennett’s debut as the defensive end is expected to debut. Corner Anthony Brown is questionable and backup tackle Cameron Fleming has been ruled out, but Dallas is otherwise extremely healthy, perhaps more so than at any other point in the season. Tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins have both been limited but should play, as will guard Zack Martin. DEs Robert Quinn and Dorance Armstrong are both up to play and Sean Lee, set to play a lot with Vander Esch likely out, is expected to participate since missing a practice on Saturday wasn’t injury-related.

New York WR Sterling Shepard is out with a concussion, so look for Slayton, Golden Tate and tight end Evan Engram to continue being featured in New York’s pass offense. DL Leonard Williams, acquired from the Jets earlier this week, is expected to go. Corner Corey Ballantine did make it out of concussion protocol, but the Giants won’t have rookie LB Ryan Connelly, who tore his ACL after making three starts in his four appearances.

RECENT MEETINGS
(Cowboys 10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS last 13, OVER 8-5)

9/8/19 Cowboys 35-17 vs. Giants (DAL -7, 44)
12/30/18 Cowboys 36-35 vs. Giants (DAL +7.5, 38.5)
9/16/18 Cowboys 20-13 at Giants (DAL -3, 42)
12/10/17 Cowboys 30-10 at Giants (DAL -4, 42)
9/10/17 Cowboys 19-3 at Giants (DAL -6, 46.5)
12/11/16 Giants 10-7 vs. Cowboys (NYG +3.5, 47)
9/11/16 Giants 20-19 vs. Cowboys (NYG +1, 47.5)
10/25/15 Giants 27-20 at Cowboys (NYG -3, 45)
9/13/15 Cowboys 27-26 at Giants (NYG +6, 51.5)
11/23/14 Cowboys 31-28 at Giants (NYG +5, 49)
10/19/14 Cowboys 31-21 vs. Giants (DAL -5.5, 47)
11/24/13 Cowboys 24-21 at Giants (DAL +2.5, 44.5)
9/8/13 Cowboys 36-31 vs. Giants (DAL -3.5, 49.5)

NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED

The Westgate opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 10 currently has the Cowboys as a 3-point favorite against Minnesota in a huge NFC game. The Giants will stay in town to play a “road” game against the New York Jets. The Giants are an early 2.5-point favorite.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA

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