Dallas Cowboys (11-1) vs New York Giants (8-4)
8:30pm ET on NBC
The Dallas Cowboys last Thursday against Minnesota had season lows in points (15), yards (264), and passing yards (124), and tied their season high for turnovers (2), but still managed to eek out their 11th win in a row, this one by a score of 17-15, to clinch a playoff spot. This is maybe starting to feel like a team of destiny, no? Dallas’ offense had trouble getting started against the Vikings stalwart D, covering just 39 yards on their first three drives, while getting whistled for 15. But in the 2nd quarter, Dak Prescott would engineer an 84-yard drive, the big play coming on a beautiful 56-yard pass to Dez Bryant, who stumbled into a somersault before being downed at the 1. Ezekiel Elliott did the rest. But a couple of Minnesota field goals later, the Cowboys found themselves down 9-7 early in the 4th quarter, and in need of break – boy did they get one. An offensive holding call, followed by Danielle Hunter’s sack of Prescott for a 6-yard loss set up 4th-and-24, but Adam Thielen fumbled the punt, and the ball was recovered by Dallas’ Kyle Wilber on the Minnesota 8. On 1st-and-goal, Prescott found Bryant in the flat, who then turned up the left side for the score. Minnesota would score a touchdown to make it 17-15 with 25 seconds to on the clock and a chance for a 2-point conversion to tie it, but Sam Bradford’s pass to Kyle Rudolph sailed high, well beyond the reach of mortal men.
Lady Luck finally turned her back on the New York Giants, who lost 24-14 to the resurgent (read: healthy) Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants’ woes started in the 1st quarter, when Eli Manning’s 15-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. on 3-and-14 from the Giants 5-yard line got turned into a safety when Giants’ LT Ereck Flowers got called for holding. By halftime it was 14-0 Steelers, as Manning struggled all day, completing 24 of 39 for just 195 yards, and had 2 TDs and 2 red zone interceptions – the first INT was returned 58 yards, the Steelers needing just three plays to cover the remaining 40 yards to go up 11-0. Manning would march his team down the field for a 6-play, 52-yard drive to score touchdown with 30 seconds to play, but it served only to pad his stats, not even helping gamblers who’d taken the points or the over. Before the loss to Pittsburgh, the Giants had somehow run their record to 8-3 despite scoring just 18 more points total than their opponents – a miracle, really. Now, with 4 games to play, they find themselves in possession of the top Wild Card spot in the NFC, a game ahead of Tampa, with Washington on the outside looking in from a game-and-a-half back.
Having just become the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth, the Cowboys could be forgiving for suffering a let down against the Giants. But given that their Week 1 loss to New York is the only mark on an otherwise perfect season, don’t be surprised if Dallas comes out guns a-blazing – if they do, it’s gonna be ugly.
New Orleans Saints (5-7) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Washington Redskins (6-5-1) vs Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) vs Miami Dolphins (7-5)
San Diego Chargers (5-7) vs Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Chicago Bears (3-9) vs Detroit Lions (8-4)
Minnesota Vikings (6-6) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
Atlanta Falcons (7-5) vs Los Angeles Rams (4-8)
Seattle Seahawks (t8-3-1k) vs Green Bay Packers (6-6)
Watch the Cowboys vs Giants at 8:30pm ET Sunday on NBC, or regional action of FOX by subscribing to Sling Blue