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Tonight, the Dallas Cowboys will host the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. The two bitter division rivals always put on an early season show for the fans. This season it should be no different.
Time to get the bias out of the way: I am a diehard Giants fan, and there is no team I root harder against than the Dallas Cowboys. Another writer at The 3 Point Conversion, Yusuf Nakhooda, is as faithful a Cowboy fan as you will ever find. In light of that, we decided to write a preview of this game together. Just to make things a little more interesting, we decided Yusuf would argue for the Giants, while I, begrudgingly, will sing the praises of the Cowboys.
In our conversations about the game, we agreed on one thing for certain: these are two very evenly matched teams. Much like their two meetings last season (which the Giants swept, I might add), its a battle of strength against strength. The Cowboys will rely on an explosive offense, which the Giants stalwart defense will try to stifle.
Here are your battles to watch tonight, with Yusuf Nakhooda’s take on the Giants’ defensive strengths, and my take on the Cowboys’ explosive offense.-Alex Bab
The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the best offensive lines in football for several years now. In 2014, they paved the way for DeMarco Murray’s 1,845 rushing yards. Last season, rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran for 1,631 yards behind them. This year’s offensive line isn’t quite the same, but should still be formidable. They lost right tackle Doug Free to retirement and left guard Ron Leary to free agency. La’el Collins will step in for Free, while Chaz Green appears to be the week 1 starter at left guard. The line is anchored by center Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. The three pro-bowlers will need to lead the way against the Giants’ tough front four. Dallas’ best chance in this game is if the offensive line provides Elliott running lanes, and gives quarterback Dak Prescott time in the pocket. The Giants’ secondary is tough, so the Dallas receivers will need extended plays to uncover.
Ezekiel Elliott exploded onto the NFL scene last season, leading the league in rushing yards as a rookie. With at least a temporary reprieve from his six-game suspension for alleged domestic abuse, Elliott will suit up for Dallas tonight. Elliott is an explosive runner who can hurt you inside and outside. He’ll need to have a big game for Dallas to be successful. If he can get to the second level and into the open field, he can eat up chunks of yardage in a hurry. Likely playing with a chip on his shoulder, Elliott will be looking to run with authority tonight.
As a Giants fan, I can tell you the thing that frustrates me the most about the Cowboys: third and seven. For over a decade now, I have watched Jason Witten seemingly always get open on third down, and always one yard past the sticks. Now at age 35, Witten is slowing down a bit, but he remains a major threat to sustain drives. With Dez Bryant being shadowed by Janoris Jenkins on the outside, Prescott will need to use Witten as a safety valve underneath. The Giants may use all pro safety Landon Collins to cover Witten. If so, that match up will be the focal point of many crucial plays.-Alex Bab
The New York Giants feature Jason Pierre- Paul, Damon Harrison, Jay Bromley and Oliver Vernon along the defensive line. J.P.P. has outmatched the Dallas Cowboys offensive line for many years and there is no reason to think that this year will be any different. Although he got the big pay day this off-season, look for him to give the Dallas Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line headaches all game. Pair J.P.P. with Olivier Vernon and you have a dominant twosome at defensive end. The Giants added Damon Harrison in 2016 and he has proven himself to be a dominant run stopper up the middle.They will need that to stop Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys running attack. The challenge for the Giants will be to come with the blitz and force Dak Prescott into mistakes.
This is the Giants’ greatest strength. The Giants feature All-Pro Landon Collins at strong safety, Darien Thompson at free safety and Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the cornerback positions. This quintet is one the best secondaries in the NFL. They were second in the league for fewest passing touchdowns in the league in 2016. They’ll look to frustrate Dez Bryant and company just like last season, and not give Dak Prescott any easy completions.
Dwayne Harris is a game changer. Last year vs. the Cowboys he scored a touchdown on a punt return. A shorter field takes the pressure off Eli Manning and will allow the Giants to manage the game better.-Yusuf Nakhooda
Final Score Predictions
Yusuf Nakhooda: Dallas 28-New York 17
Alex Bab: New York 24-Dallas 16