While 2020 as a calendar year is firmly and happily behind us, 2020 as a football season still has one week left to be played. If your 2020 NFL Week 17 bingo card had the NFC East with all four of its teams in meaningful games, congratulations, because you predicted something that likely no one else would have regarding the status of the NFL’s worst division. Such is the case as prior to the Washington Football Team taking on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Sunday night matchup today, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will meet in their final head-to-head showdown (1pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on Fox).
Should Washington lose, it will be the winner of this afternoon NFC East clash, that claims the division title and a spot, however undeserved it may seem, in the playoffs. That means that the Giants/Cowboys game could well determine this year’s NFC East champion.
Crowning a Divisional Winner with no More than Seven Wins
What remains left to be said about the NFC East that hasn’t been already? Not much, that’s for sure. Entering week 17, the East doesn’t have one single team with a record above .500. To put that into perspective, the NFC West has three. If you were to put the East’s best team in that division, the 6-9 Washington Football Team, they’d go from first to worst, tied for fourth place with the San Francisco 49ers. That’s how bad the East has been in 2020. As I said in this Cowboys vs Giants preview above, everyone knows that already. The woes of the East have been well reported on all season long and those woes have been many. Take for example the two teams we’ll see in action in today’s afternoon game.
The Giants lost their all-pro running back Saquon Barkley in game one of the season. The Cowboys lost their quarterback, Dak Prescott, in game five. It was in a game against those Giants, no less. Dallas has been starting a backup quarterback and on a few occasions, the backup to the backup quarterback. New York, too, needed to rely on a backup for a few weeks, though they recently got Daniel Jones back at less than 100 percent. In fact, all four of the NFC East teams have started backups this year, including all in one week once. Injuries have been a league-wide problem this year no doubt, but the East seems like they need their own medical ward to account for all the key players who went down this season.
Fortunately for the Giants, Cowboys and Football Team, the entire division felt the same woes. That’s why in week 17, a six-win team is competing against a five-win team maybe for the right to win the division. At best, seven wins will take the crown. At worst, it will be six, which would make the Giants the first-ever NFL team to reach the postseason with 10 losses. It’s a dubious distinction, but hey, playoffs are playoffs after all.
Battle of the Quarterbacks
To say something positive about the NFC East, in particular Dallas and New York, would be to acknowledge the improved QB play of both teams. As Prescott’s backup, Andy Dalton struggled in his first few starts, throwing just five touchdowns to five interceptions and failing to top 300 yards once in those four games. Dallas lost all but one. Over the last three games, all Cowboys wins, the longtime veteran has seemingly found another gear. Dalton has led Dallas to three critical wins, with a TD to Int ratio of 7:1 and 30+ point outputs in each contest. With one of the best crops of receiving weapons in the league, it was only a matter of time for Dalton to start finding success. Over the Cowboys’ recent winning ways, Dalton has done just that, throwing touchdowns to five different receivers. Dallas’ offense is finally clicking and it couldn’t have come too soon.
In New York, Jones has been struggling largely due to a hamstring injury he has tried to play through. Prior to the injury, the inconsistent Jones was playing not only some of his best football of the year, but some of the best of his young career. Prone to turnovers, Jones led the Giants to three straight wins over a stretch of games, and not one single interception. It was his improved play that took a 0-5 Giants team into a group that has a chance to play .500 ball in the season’s final 11 games depending on today’s result.
Heading into this one, Dalton is going to be favored to have a better performance than his counterpart. He’s hot and Jones simply isn’t fully healthy. That impacts one of the biggest aspects of his game: the ability to run. Without his legs, Jones has seen his production dip. Though his reads have gotten much better as has his decision-making as he hasn’t thrown a pick in a career-high five straight games.
Dallas Cowboys vs NY Giants Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict for This NFL Game Preview
It’s hard to believe that a team that was once 1-7 and another that was 3-9 are playing in this kind of high stakes game, but here we are. In some ways, it’s fitting of just how weird a season the 2020 campaign was. Fortunately for either the Giants or Cowboys, should they make the playoffs, records reset and anything can happen. Fans would be wise to remember that both the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks won playoff games with sub-.500 records. The Giants or Cowboys could well do the same. Their destiny is not in their hands as both teams will need the help of the East’s only eliminated team, the Eagles, to play spoiler on Sunday night. First, New York and Dallas have to do their part.
The Giants’ defense has been a bright spot this year as has the overall growth of the young players and first year head coach, Joe Judge. But this defense hasn’t seen the likes of Dallas when all cylinders are clicking and that’s exactly what they’ll face today. So the Cowboys at Giants predictions and picks for this preview are:
- Look for the Cowboys to cover the meager 1 or 1.5 spread with the USA betting operators. The best option is Dallas -1pt @ -119 with Bookmaker.
- Take the over on 44 total points @ -110 with Bovada or BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.