Team Giants


Giants - Cowboys
Game 1 preview
Sunday Sept 10, 8:30 PM - Giants at Cowboys

Giants (0-0) vs Cowboys (0-0)
The Giants closed out last season with an 11-5 record, followed by a wildcard playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. In that game the Giants scored a field goal in each of the first two quarters. Their defense was making a 6-0 lead hold up, but then they gave up two quick touchdowns to close out the second quarter.
The Giants were the first team to score in the third quarter when Eli Manning hit Tavarres King with a 41 yard touchdown pass to bring the Giants close, trailing 14-13, but it also lit a fire under Aaron Rodgers.
Despite the Giants defense hitting Rodgers with five sacks up to this point, he was determined to win this matchup. There were no more sacks, and Rodgers led the Packers in each of his following drives to three more touchdowns and a field goal to secure a 38-13 win over the Giants.
The Dallas Cowboys would face Green Bay the following week in the divisional game and saw what they would be up against. The Cowboys put up a good fight. They tried to overcome a questionable call by the officials that could have altered the outcome, but in the end the score was 34-31 in favor of the Packers.
Giants - Packers Wrap-Up

The Dallas Cowboys
The NFC East champions surprised everyone last year. They lost top quarterback Tony Romo before the season started and so, had to rely on their fourth round draft pick. Dak Prescott led the passing offense, and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott was the lead running back. It worked so well that Romo gracefully stepped aside even after he was physically able to return, refusing to break the Cowboys winning momentum. The Cowboys then were on an eight game winning streak, having lost only the opener to the Giants and that, by just one point.
The Cowboys lost only two more games to finish out the season, another to the Giants by three points, and the last game of the season to the Eagles. They had already locked up the No. 1 seed and had home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Prescott started the game. Romo later came in for just one series, likely his last with the Cowboys, and he finished it with a touchdown pass to put the Cowboys ahead 10-3. Mark Sanchez took over and the Cowboys lost 27-13 to the Eagles.

Cowboys Offense
Dak Prescott threw for 23 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions in his rookie year. However, the passing offense, which is based on yards per game, had the Cowboys ranked 23rd in the league. Look for them to trust Prescott more in his second year for better downfield connections. Prescott threw almost exactly the same number of passes to his top three receiver's last season, and slot receiver Cole Beasley made the most of it with 75 receptions, the best of his career. Tight end Jason Witten was next with 69, followed by wide receiver Dez Bryant with 50.
The Cowboys relied on their offensive line and it was one of the best. Right tackle Doug Free has retired, and left guard Ronald Leary moved on in free agency. They expect La'el Collins to start at right tackle, and no matter who fills in at left guard, they expect no drop-off in performance.
Behind Ezekiel Elliott's running, the Cowboys ranked 2nd in the league in that category. Alfred Morris complements him well. Elliott will play in this opening game, and could play the entire season while appealing an NFL ruling against him.

Cowboys Defense
They were the strongest defense in the league playing against the run, allowing an average of just 83.5 yards per game. Linebacker Sean Lee has been healthy the last two years, and his play on the field has been remarkable. Starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens will miss the first six games because of an ACL injury and they're looking forward to seeing how Jaylon Smith will perform. Smith had missed all of his rookie season last year because of a knee injury. Justin Durant was re-signed, and he can play all the linebacker spots. The Cowboys liked defensive end David Irving's progress last year, but he'll start off 2017 serving a four-game suspension.
The Cowboys had a big turnover in their secondary. Orlando Scandrick has all the experience, and Anthony Brown is coming off a good rookie year, but Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, and J.J. Wilcox are gone. They've added free agent Nolan Carroll from Philadelphia, and will rely on a number of draft picks to supplement some of the reserve talent they already have on hand. It might take some time for this unit to jell, and that could hurt them in the first few games.

Giants offense
The offense struggled last season, averaging less than 20 points a game. Somehow (yes - defense) they still won 11 games and ended up in the playoffs. What's changed in the offseason? Eli Manning's age seemed to become a big concern. This despite the fact that he was athletic enough to be the third least sacked quarterback while playing behind an offensive line that was sometimes an open door. Manning had to get rid of the ball fast while trusting his receivers to be at the right spot. He finished 2016 throwing for 26 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.
Victor Cruz was the fourth leading receiver, and despite the fact that he had the most yards per catch in that group (15.0), they let him walk. Tight end Will Tye, third on that list, did not make the 53 man roster cut last week. Top receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was injured in the first preseason game, and is listed as questionable for this game. The Giants rounded out their receiver group by signing free agent Brandon Marshall, a real downfield threat, and veteran pro tight end Rhett Ellison. They also used their first round draft pick on tight end Evan Engram and so slot receiver Sterling Shepard may see his role reduced.
The offensive line was a real weak spot last year, and there was no running game to speak of. The Giants were close to the bottom team, averaging just 88.3 rushing yards per game. Having big tight ends that can block will certainly help them in the running game and with pass protection. Shane Vereen was sorely missed after suffering a triceps injury. The veteran running back's specialty is being a receiver out of the backfield, and it hurt not to have his skills available. Rashad Jennings is gone, but Paul Perkins showed he could be relied on near the end of his rookie season. Tough running by Orleans Darkwa rounds out the mix.

Giants defense
This unit showed great improvement from 2015 to 2016 in all the major areas of defense, passing, rushing, interceptions, sacks and turnovers. The biggest improvement, and the one most sorely needed for the Giants to achieve their 11 wins, was in opponents points scored. They ranked second in the NFL limiting other teams to an average of less than 18 points per game. The pass rush improved and overworked Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon combined for 15.5 sacks to do their part, but the Giants need more push up the middle. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard are gone. Jay Bromley will step up and second round pick Dalvin Tomlinson will show what he can do. Former Giant Antonio Pierce has been working with 2016 fourth round draft pick B.J. Goodson at the middle linebacker spot.
Everyone needs to be mindful of receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Jason Witten. The
Janoris Jenkins - Dez Bryant matchup will be interesting to watch. Bryant certainly wants to make up for his poor performances last year against the Giants (2 catches for 18 yards and a fumble), but if he puts pressure on his quarterback to force the ball in his direction, it could work against his team. Safety Darian Thompson is back after an injury shortened season playing opposite Landon Collins. Cornerback Eli Apple played well in his rookie year and he, along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, need to stay healthy.

Two quarterbacks ended their careers with the Cowboys in their last regular season game. The good - Tony Romo went 3 for 4 with 1 touchdown. The bad - Mark Sanchez taking over going 9 of 17 with 3 sacks and 2 interceptions. Why bring this up? It was a Cowboys give away game to the Eagles. The Giants were the only team to beat the Cowboys when it actually mattered, and they did it twice.
That said, a total of only four points decided those two games, but the Giants have taken measures to address that weakness. Ben McAdoo now has more options at hand to vary what became predictable play calling. The weakness on the Cowboys is their passing game defense, and they may have taken a step backwards. Considering those factors we'd have to pick the Giants to win in this opening game of the season.

NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (0-0) at Redskins (0-0).
Sunday at 8:30pm Giants (0-0) at Cowboys 0-0).
The Eagles and Cowboys are favored to win in these games.

Notes - Giants.

Eli Manning will make his 200th consecutive regular season start on Sunday.

Giants defense allowed just 15 passing touchdowns in 2016 (second-fewest in the league).

Giants will play the Cowboys in the opener for the 3rd year in a row, and 4th time in the last five seasons.

Notes - Cowboys.

Dak Prescott was named the offensive rookie of the year after the 2016 season.

Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards, finishing with 1,631 for the year.

Elliott rushed for 158 yards and 1 touchdown on 44 carries in two games against the Giants last year.
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