Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

December 27, 2018 at 1:43 am.

Cowboys staying with process in regular-season finale

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett made it clear on Wednesday that the team’s goal this week is the same as it has been the previous 16.

Although Dallas has clinched the NFC East championship and can’t better its seed in the playoffs, the Cowboys will prepare to win at New York on Sunday.

A reporter asked Garrett about the resilience and character of his young team, especially considering Dallas has won two division titles in three years with third-year players Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott leading the way.

But Garrett didn’t take the bait.

“Not the time to have reflections like that,” he said. “Really what we’re trying to do is have a really good practice today. … Our focus is on what we need to do this week against the Giants to play our best game.”

The Dallas media wanted to get an indication of which key players might sit out this week in order to be well-rested for the wild-card round of the playoffs. Garrett rebuffed the notion that the Cowboys will deploy backups against the Giants.

He explained that the numbers don’t allow for a lineup of second-teamers.

“We’re going to play our football team,” Garrett said. “Anybody who’s healthy is going to play in this ball game.”

It’s reasonable, then, that the Cowboys will try to defeat the Giants (5-10). Dallas can finish the regular season with a 10-6 mark with a victory. A loss would put the Cowboys at 9-7, the same record as in 2017 when Dallas missed the playoffs.

The Cowboys will finish the regular season on the road against a divisional opponent for the third straight season and in oddly familiar circumstances. Dallas lost at Philadelphia in 2016 when the Cowboys had clinched the NFC East. The Cowboys won in Philly last season when they were out of the playoff hunt and the Eagles had won the division.

But don’t expect Garrett to discount the value of winning in New York on Sunday.

“A lot of people have said this is a meaningless game,” Garrett said. “It’s a meaningful game to us.”

SERIES HISTORY: 113th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 65-45-2. Dallas, which won the first game this season against the Giants, swept its NFC East foe in 2017, breaking a three-game losing streak to the New York club in the process.