New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys Preview & Prediction

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  New York Giants

New York Giants (0-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (0-1)

In week 2, the division rival Giants and Cowboys will try to get their first win of the season.  Head-to-head, the Cowboys have dominated the Giants 64-45.  However, in the last ten years, these two teams have tied 10-10.

The Offense:

In week 1, the Giants showed just how much work lies ahead of them if they want to see the post season.  From struggling first down attempts, to a measly 28.6% third down conversion rate, and dropped balls from TE Evan Engram and WR Sterling Shepard, the Giants offense seemed to show little improvement from 2017.

However, the Jacksonville Jaguars had one of the best defenses in the league in 2017, and that hasn’t changed much in 2018 with DE Calais Campbell sniffing out the run game and LB Myles Jack with an interception return for a touchdown.

And with CB Jalen Ramsey, S Barry Church and CB AJ Bouye covering down field and it’s no wonder the Jaguars defense consistently applied pressure, often forcing quarterback Eli Manning to release the ball sooner than expected, leading to incompletions and turnovers.

Although there were some improvements in the performance of the Giants offensive front line, the Giants offense lacked consistency, often allowing defenders to crowd plays and close both running and passing lanes.  However, even with missed opportunities, Manning was only sacked twice, and was frequently able to find targets downfield (whether those targets were actually caught was a whole other story).

In week 1, Saquon Barkley had little room to run against the stout Jacksonville line for most of the game, in part due to continuing issues with RT Ereck Flowers, but definitely flashed his ability to improve with experience and coaching.  Even with his first NFL touchdown under his belt, Barkley will need to improve his efficiency to help this offense.

Week 1 showed glimpses of the Giants offensive potential, but they will need to be prepared for the Cowboys defense that managed to mostly contain Cam Newton over the air.  In week 1, against the Carolina Panthers, Newton was sacked 3 times and held to only 161 passing yards.  Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they weren’t so consistent against the run, allowing 147 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

The Cowboys will need to take plays from the Jaguars’ defensive playbook if they’re looking to contain Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley — i.e., Pressure…Pressure…Pressure.

Eli has trouble in clean pockets, and newly acquired LT Nate Solder didn’t appear to change much, but Eli is positively abysmal under pressure.  Give him enough time and he’ll find OBJ, but these opportunities were far and few in between.

The Defense:

The Giants defense will need to be better prepared in week 2.  In week 1, the Giants did a good job slowing the Jaguars run game (though Leonard Fournette’s injury also contributed).  With essentially no reliable receiving options after losing both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, Prescott will likely continue to struggle in the passing game.  Only Cole Beasley consistently caught targets in week 1, with Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup providing minimal assistance.  The Cowboys only real offensive threat has been Ezekiel Elliot, making them mostly one dimensional.  Thus, the key to week 2 will be stopping Elliot.  In week one, Elliot was held to 69 yards and a touchdown and Prescott was sacked 6 times and held to just 170 passing yards as the Cowboys lost 8-16 to the Panthers.

There’s no reason the Giants’ can’t do the same.

In week 1, the Giants defense had 2 sacks, an interception for a touchdown, and a forced fumble recovery against the Jaguars. I’d say that’s a pretty good start even for a loss.

For both teams, mistakes from week 1 will need improvement.  Moving the ball on first and second down will be important as neither team operated well in 3rd and long situations, and offensive lines will have to demonstrate some improved consistency so as to allow the offense to take advantage of opportunities.

Outcome:

Call me crazy…and Dallas is favored by 3, but I’m picking the New York Giants to win.

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