New York Giants: Game 1 Preview/Giants at Cowboys
By Michael Stewart (@golferbad)
Introduction: The Giants open the 2017-18 season against the Dallas Cowboys for the 3rd straight season. Last season the Giants completed a sweep against the Cowboys by taking the season series 2-0. The Cowboys haven’t forgotten and when these two teams meet up on Sunday night, it’s going to get very physical.
Two key players from each team are projected to play on opening night: OBJ for the Giants and Ezekiel Elliott for the Cowboys. Beckham Jr. suffered ankle sprain against the Browns and his effectiveness is uncertain. Elliott’s 6 game suspension has been upheld and delayed, so he will play the season opener. Over the last 3 seasons, the Giants and Cowboys have a 3-3 record head to head; with the last 4 matches being decided by a total of only 12 points.
Top 3 Matchups:
- Giants defensive front 7-vs- Cowboys OL: It’s no secret that the Giants success in 2016 was mostly contributed by their defense; most notably the front 7. It’s also no secret that the Cowboys have arguably the best OL in the NFL. This key matchup could be critical to the outcome of this game; whichever side can control the line of scrimmage will have an edge.
- Dak Prescott-vs-Giants secondary: The outstanding rookie season that Dak Prescott had in 2016 was remarkable when you consider that he was replacing injuried QB Tony Romo and was thrown into the spotlight on a Cowboys team expected to win the division. Prescott responding more than anyone expected and the Cowboys are banking on him to continue this success. Prescott will need to out shine his counterpart (Eli Manning) and make big plays against the Giants secondary.
- Cowboys secondary-vs-Giants receivers: Not sure how effected OBJ will be if he actually plays at all, so this matchup becomes even more of a focal point as WR Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall will need to step it up. Rookie TE Evan Engram may have to be look upon more in the season opener and could be the Giants ace in the hole against a very questionable Dallas secondary.
What to look for: Dallas will feature Elliott and base their offensive scheme around him; using him as a decoy on play action plays to create confusion and mismatches. Prescott will try to get as many receivers involved to prevent the Giants from isolating on only 1 or 2 targets. On defense, Dallas must win the battle in the trenches with their front 7 to give their secondary a fighting chance against Manning’s arm and talented receivers. For the Giants, offensively they must have some success in running the ball and not put them in long yardage situations for most of the game. On defense, Giants need to bring their “A” game and create turnovers. They also need to limit Elliott from breaking long runs; which will extend the drives and keep the Giants defense on the field too long.
Final Score: I expect this game to be physical with limited opportunities for both sides and to be decided in the final quarter. I see both sides with at least 2 turnovers each and the team that capitalizes the most will win. In the end, I believe the duo of Elliott and Prescott at home against a Giants team that will not have a fully healthy OBJ will dwindle in the 4th quarter and suffer their 1st loss. Cowboys-23/Giants-17