For the last three years, the Giants and Cowboys have opened the season against each other. This year, both teams will meet for the first time in Week 2, each starting 0-1.
I don’t want to start with the “must win” talk quite this early, but Giants fans are eager for the first win under Pat Shurmur, and 0-2 would put the team in a tough position given the remainder of this schedule.
New York’s season opener was pretty much what we expected. The defense looked promising, though they were still charged with 137 yards on the ground, even with Leonard Fournette sidelined for the majority of the game. On offense, Odell Beckham Jr had 11 carries for 111 yards, and Saquon Barkley ran 68 yards on his first NFL touchdown. Despite the loss, there were a lot of positive takeaways from Week 1.
Over in Carolina, Dallas struggled against the Panthers with Dak Prescott taking 10 hits, getting sacked six times. The Cowboys were only able to put up 8 points in their Week 1 loss to the Panthers.
In order for the Giants to walk away with their first win of the season, Landon Collins put it best, “we really just have to focus on stopping Zeke.” It’s what worked for the Panthers last week and granted the Cowboys don’t change their offense, it’s what the Giants will need to do tonight. Since Collins became a Giant, the team has limited Zeke to an average of 87.3 yards in three games. Along with halting Zeke, Collins added they have to, “make sure we [take] the air out of their running game. Put the ball into Dak’s hands and I think we have a better shot at winning.” Putting the pressure on Prescott to beat his opponent is the “secret” to defeating this team. Prescott responded to Collins’ comments by repeating multiple time that he accepts the challenge.
Prescott is coming off a horrendous outing, completing 19 of 29 passes for 170 yards, and producing only four first downs in the first half. To make matters worse, the Cowboys certainly have a weakened O Line with the indefinite absence of Travis Frederick.
In terms of the Giants O Line, last week, Ereck Flowers was matched up against Calais Campbell, which immediately proved to be lopsided. This week, to the Cowboys delight, he’ll be matched against All-Pro pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence. If you haven’t caught on, it’s going to be a very long season of lopsided Flowers match ups. For whatever reason, the Giants believe in him and we shouldn’t hold our breath for that to change.
This week, the spotlight will be on the indirect match-up of Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliot. While last week there was a heavy focus on Odell and Jalen Ramsey lining up against each other, this week’s match-up, of course, won’t be head-to-head. Saquon and Zeke were two of the most decorated college running back’s, and both are eager for a monster game on Sunday. Zeke ran for a nice 69 yards with one touchdown, while Saquon had his first NFL TD on an incredible 68-yard run. While that touchdown is exciting, it’s worth noting that it alone counted for more than 50% of his total yards that day.
-As Collins said, stopping Zeke and forcing Dak to beat the Giants is going to be the main goal tonight.
-The Giants should try and use Saquon as a receiver out of the backfield as much as they can. The rookie was a dangerous threat at Penn State in this position where he averaged 11.7 yards per receptions.
-As easy as it is to blame the O-Line, there were multiple instances last week where they perfectly protected Eli and he failed to make easy completions. He’ll need to be sharp and take advantage of every opportunity this week.
Prediction: Giants win 24-13
Men over boys.