The 2017 NFL season is upon us. Once again the New York Giants open up the year under the lights of Jerry World against their rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The heated rivalry is back, as both fan bases have been jawing back and forth all offseason of who will reign supreme in the NFC East this year. The Cowboys won the division last year, but the Giants swept Dallas. Both teams are in position to contend in the NFC, and both teams are looking to start out their season with a statement win on Sunday night. Buckle up, because this should be a good one.
There are some question marks leading up to the game. Everyone was left wondering if Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension would hold him out, and if Odell Beckham would be ready to go after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason. Elliott will be eligible to play, however OBJ’s status remains in question. Will Dak Prescott be able to find his way against a Giants defense which he struggled with last year? Will Eli Manning and his O-line find early success on the year? Much is hanging in the balance for a game which should be impactful for shaping the division down the road.
Things to watch for in Giants vs. Cowboys:
1. New faces in the passing game
The addition of Brandon Marshall gives Eli a big-bodied WR which he hasn’t had for some time. The drafting of Evan Engram gives the Giants offense a TE that is very versatile and can play in multiple scenarios on the field. Sterling Shepard caught the first touchdown of his career in the opener last year against Dallas, can Engram and Marshall catch their first touchdowns as Giants in this year’s opener? With Beckham possibly being out, Marshall and Engram will surely hold an even larger role in the passing game than they were going to originally. This will give the team and fans a good early look at the latest new faces on offense.
2. Dak and Zeke against the Giants’ D
The Giants’ defense shut down the two rookies and the Dallas’ offense last year. Sure, they were making their debut in the first matchup, but New York proved it wasn’t a fluke by doing it again in Week 14. Prescott completed 51% of his passes for just one touchdown and two interceptions in the two games. Elliott rushed for a combined 158 yards and one touchdown on 3.6 yards per carry. His one touchdown came in the first game after the Giants turned the ball over deep in Cowboys territory, and Zeke only rushed for -1 yards in the 4th quarter of the second game. Nothing special at all for the two rooks in the two games, and the Giants defense will be looking to not make matters any easier the third time around.
3. Janoris Jenkins vs. Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant claims Janoris Jenkins can’t cover him 1-on-1 and that he will embarrass him in 2017. Jenkins also– in 1-on-1 coverage– held Dez to just one reception on seven targets including one forced fumble, one interception, and one pass defensed, per PFF. The Odell Beckham Jr and Josh Norman rivalry is a good one, but Jenkins is making his own enemies around the division in the forms of Bryant and newly signed Redskin Terrelle Pryor. It should be expected that Dak will attempt to throw deep more often this season, and he will target Dez plenty. The matchup to watch in this one is Janoris Jenkins vs. Dez Bryant.
Yes, it’s just Week 1, but a win for either team would be huge, not only for rivalry bragging rights but for quite possibly shaping the landscape in the 2017 NFC East. Odell Beckham will likely be a game-time decision and would be a big loss, but Big Blue will still fight regardless for their fourth straight victory over Dallas.
Keenan Robinson (concussion)
Odell Beckham Jr (ankle)