AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Television: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya) 8:20 PM EDT
This will be the 112th regular season meeting between the Giants and Cowboys going back to 1960. Dallas leads the all-time series 64-45-2 and swept the Giants in 2017 (19-3 in Week 1, 30-10 in Week 14) after losing the previous three games.
Cowboys by 3
GIANTS INJURY REPORT
OUT: Linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle)
COWBOYS INJURY REPORT
DOUBTFUL: Defensive end Randy Gregory (concussion)
WHAT IS ON THE LINE
This is the first game of the season between two NFC East opponents. Both the Giants and Cowboys lost their regular season openers. The loser of this game will drop to 0-2 with a loss in the division. Since the NFL adopted its current playoff format in 1990, only 28 of the 231 teams to start 0-2 made the playoffs.
The Giants started 0-2 last season, dropped their first five games, and finished with an NFC-worst 3-13. This led to the firing of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Dallas last lost their first two games in 2010 before finishing 6-10. Head coach Wade Phillips was fired with a 1-7 record and replaced by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett (Editor’s note: Garrett was given a vote of confidence by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the offseason).
Giants right tackle Ereck Flowers vs. Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence
Flowers’ Week 1 was spent getting manhandled by the Jaguars’ Calais Campbell. He didn’t do himself any favors when he was penalized for tripping Campbell on the first play from scrimmage, drawing a holding penalty, and giving up a sack. This week his assignment is trying to contain the two-time All-Pro Lawrence.
Lawrence continued his dominance last week with seven combined tackles (six solo) and a sack. In last year’s regular season opener, Lawrence got the better of Flowers with five combined tackles (three solo) and 1.5 sacks in the 19-3 Giants loss. If Flowers struggles against Lawrence, the Giants may look to give him help in the form of Rhett Ellison or Evan Engram as a blocker.
HOW THE GIANTS WILL WIN
Odell Beckham Jr. had a great game in his return from a broken ankle (11 receptions for 111 yards). Unfortunately, Beckham didn’t find the end zone against Jacksonville. The Giants have to score more than one touchdown. Engram needs to have a better day than he had last week (two receptions for 18 yards on five targets).
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In fact, the Giants offense as a whole has to improve. Eli Manning looked like a 37-year-old quarterback on too many plays. Although Flowers bore the brunt of the offensive line’s criticism, the line as a whole stunk it up. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley was held in check for three quarters before his blistering 68-yard touchdown run.
On defense, the Giants have to pressure Dak Prescott, preferably without blitzing on every down. Prescott was very successful against the blitz so the Giants have to be physical with him, especially since his mobility makes him a threat to take off if a play breaks down. The Giants cannot allow Prescott to get comfortable in the pocket.
He completed 19 of 29 passes for 170 yards against Carolina. The Panthers defense sacked him six times. The pass rush will be extremely important, especially the play of Connor Barwin. Barwin will split minutes with rookie Lorenzo Carter because of the absence of Vernon.
The Giants defense also has to make Prescott win with his arm by stifling the ground game.
HOW THE COWBOYS WILL WIN
The Cowboys offense begins and ends with Ezekiel Elliott. Landon Collins said earlier this week stopping him is key to leaving AT&T Stadium with a win. Elliott’s role in the offense increased with the release of Dez Bryant and retirement of Jason Witten. He had 69 yards on 15 carries against Carolina, an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
The Giants faced Leonard Fournette last week, allowing 41 yards on nine carries (4.6 yards per carry). Fournette didn’t play in the second half due to a hamstring injury and was replaced by T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon had 51 yards on 14 carries (3.6 yards per carry).
Cole Beasley had seven passes for 73 yards against Carolina. This week, he will more than likely be covered by journeyman corner B.W. Webb. Webb had three tackles against Jacksonville and will have his hands full against the Cowboys’ best receiver.
The biggest assignment for the defense will be containing Barkley for four quarters. Barkley’s presence, to use an old cliché, will keep the defense honest. However, the former Nittany Lion is a highlight reel waiting to happen on every play so the defense will have its work cut out for them.
In order to keep Barkley in check (and keep Manning from picking them apart), Tyrone Crawford has to win his individual battle against Jon Halapio. The Giants averaged only 2.09 yards per attempt last week minus Barkley’s touchdown run. Second-year cornerback Chidobe Awuzie will draw the difficult assignment of containing Beckham, who was covered mostly by All-Pro Jalen Ramsey last week. The 6-foot, 200-pound Awuzie has to use his size and physicality and hope that Beckham doesn’t burn him with his speed.
WHO WILL WIN THE GAME?
Both teams don’t need any additional motivation for this game. Dallas is playing in their home opener while the Giants were swept by their rival last season. After the historical perspective is removed, it comes down to playmakers and the Giants have more of than Dallas does.
– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.