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Burning questions for Cowboys vs Giants on ‘Monday Night Football’

Jesse Reed
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Capping off the action in Week 9, the New York Giants are hosting the Dallas Cowboys for an NFC East special edition of Monday Night Football.

The Cowboys currently hold a tenuous lead atop the division, coming into Week 9 with a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles. However, despite just two wins, the Giants are only two games outside of first in the win column.

Looking ahead to this pivotal Monday Night Football matchup for both teams, we have some big questions. The answers will have a lot to do with which team wins.

Which version of Daniel Jones will show up?

Since taking over for Eli Manning in Week 3, this first-round rookie has shown some Jekyll and Hyde tendencies. Either he’s really on, or he’s really off.

Most recently, Jones was phenomenal in a losing cause against Detroit. During last weekend’s game, he passed for 322 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. If the young quarterback can have that kind of game on Monday night against Dallas, then the G-Men have a really good chance to pull off an upset.

On the other hand, if he struggles with turnovers and sacks, then the Giants will have a hard time winning.

Can the Giants slow down Ezekiel Elliott?

In the past two games, Ezekiel Elliott has started to get rolling, both as a runner and receiver. During Dallas’ loss to the New York Jets and its win against the Philadelphia Eagles, he racked up 300 yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage and has really started to get back into the flow as the ‘Boys’ do-it-all star.

The Giants haven’t fared well this year defending the run game. They’ve allowed 122.4 yards per game and 10 rushing touchdowns total in eight games. Perhaps the newly acquired Leonard Williams can help plug some of those holes. We can expect the Cowboys to test that theory early and often on Monday night.

Can Saquon Barkley steal the show?

Since missing three games with his high-ankle sprain, Saquon Barkley has rounded into form. He is coming off a pretty awesome game overall last weekend against the Lions, in which he totaled 143 yards and a touchdown from scrimmage and showed off some of his unique skills.

If the Giants are going to upset the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, then Barkley will likely need to have his best game of the year. The last time he suited up against Dallas (Week 1), Barkley only received 11 carries but turned them into 120 yards. The Giants would be wise to feed him, and do it often, against Dallas.

Will Dak Prescott get careless?

When Dak Prescott has been on top of his game this year, the Cowboys have been darn-near unbeatable. After a red-hot start, however, he’s cooled off a bit and has thrown five of his seven interceptions in the past four games. The big loss to New Orleans stands out as his worst decision-making game (three interceptions). Even in the Cowboys’ last game, a win over Philly, Prescott admittedly got careless on an interception while Dallas was up big.

So the question is: Will Prescott take what the Giants give him Monday night? Or, will he swing for the fences and risk turning the ball over on plays he should settle for less? The Giants are susceptible to being roasted through the air, but they have also forced seven interceptions so far this year.

Can anyone cover Amari Cooper?

When the Cowboys traded a first-round pick to acquire Cooper, many ripped the organization for overpaying. Nobody’s doing that now.

Since landing in Dallas, Cooper has played 16 games. In those 16 games, he’s caught 91 passes for 1,346 yards and 11 touchdowns. This year, despite being banged up and missing most of Jets game with an injury (essentially playing in just six games), Cooper has hauled in 38 passes for 621 yards and five touchdowns.

New York’s defensive secondary has been roasted at times this season. Unless it steps up in a big way on Monday Night Football, chances are Cooper is going to have a field day.