Giants (0-1) vs Cowboys (0-1)
In their season opener the Cowboys were
unable to put points on the board until the fourth quarter was closing in on the
halfway mark. The Cowboys trailed for the entire game and ended up with a 16-8
loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The Giants opened at home against the Jacksonville
Jaguars. Any thoughts the fans had of seeing an explosive offense were squashed,
as the Jaguars top defense played as well as they did last year.
The Giants lost to the Jaguars with a 20-15 score.
The Cowboys finished up
last year in second place in the NFC East with a 9-7 record. They had two big
issues to face going into this season. Tight end Jason Witten had retired after
a nice long 15 year career, and they had released wide receiver Dez Bryant. Since
2006, one of those two were the top receivers on the team except for the 2016
season when slot receiver Cole Beasley led the team. Bryant and Witten were the
top one and two receivers last year in that order, and had a combined 132 receptions
for 1398 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Prescott is coming off a down year, and losing those two hot targets will not
help, although he still has Beasley. Prescott did make good use of him last week,
but connecting with Beasley and six others, who also caught passes, resulted in
only 170 total yards. They couldn't keep the chains moving. Prescott threw the
ball 29 times, and running back Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball only 15 times.
Maybe that's not going to be a winning formula this year.
Last week Dak Prescott completed
over 65 percent of his passes. Cole Beasley pulled in 7 out of 8 for 73 yards.
Ezekiel Elliott averaged 4.6 yards a carry, ran for one touchdown, and caught
3 out of 4 passes for 17 yards. Prescott ran with the ball five times for 19 yards,
and threw no interceptions. How could the Cowboys lose? Well, you still have to
put points up on the board. They did miss one field goal, but that's not the whole
In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys scoring drive was their longest
of the day, and they had to face only one 3rd down which they made. That was big,
as the Cowboys had made only one other before that. They then trailed by eight
points, but on their final drive of the game, Prescott was sacked for a sixth
time, and fumbled the ball away. The Cowboys have a strong offensive line, and
some feel that Prescott doesn't have a good pocket
awareness, but he is in need of some targets other than Beasley.
Their biggest strength in 2016 was
playing against the run. They were the strongest defense in the league, allowing
an average of just 83.5 yards per game. They slipped a bit last year, but still
ranked eight in that area. Last week though, quarterback Cam Newton surprised
them, running 13 times for 58 yards. Christian McCaffrey got 50 yards on 10 carries,
and overall the Cowboys gave up 147 yards on the ground. As far as defending against
the pass, the defense did sack Newton three times for 15 yards, and they held
him to 161 passing yards and no touchdowns.
Eli Manning is up next, and while
the Cowboys will appreciate not having to chase an elusive quarterback around
the field, they'll be very anxious to sack one behind the line. Pass rusher DeMarcus
Lawrence mentioned that this week, noting an apparent weakness on the Giants offensive
line. Lawrence led his team last year with 14.5 sacks, and picked up one last
week against the Panthers. The Cowboys will still have to watch what Manning can
do with his arm, especially since there were big changes to their secondary during
last time Eli Manning faced the Cowboys he was at a big disadvantage. Odell Beckham
Jr. and Sterling Shepard were not on the field. With the lack of wide receiver
talent, Manning had to throw more passes to his running backs, and he did so 16
times in the game. They actually pulled in more catches on less throws, and for
slightly more yardage than did the receivers. Manning also had a porous offensive
line. I know you'll stop me right there thinking back to last week, but let's
assume, at least for now, that the better talent this year will figure things
out and get the job done.
The Cowboys defense will give that a good test this
week. Beckham caught 11 passes playing against a Jaguars pass defense that was
the best in the NFL coming into this game. Even they had to 'cheat', pulling two
pass interference calls when Beckham was about to get past them for much bigger
gains. The Jaguars were also the second best team in sacks recorded, someone should
remind DeMarcus Lawrence, as the Cowboys were
in the middle of the pack by comparison.
Stopping the run is what is on
their minds, especially seeing how poorly Dak Prescott played last week when the
ball was in his hands. Still, last year in the season opener with the Cowboys,
Dak Prescott threw for 268 yards. That was his best until, you guessed it, he
faced the Giants again in their second season matchup. Prescott had his best game,
throwing for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Eli Apple was inactive for that game
for whatever McAdoo reason. That won't be the case this week, and Apple is coming
off a good showing, and was out there for every defensive snap against the Jaguars.
For this match up, the Giants will again be without defensive end Olivier Vernon,
dealing with a high ankle sprain, and the Cowboys without their starting center
Travis Fredrick due to an illness.
There has been talk that the Cowboys need
to get more passes to Ezekiel Elliott, especially if they can't get a ground game
going. Elliott caught 3 out of 4 last week, so the Giants will have to watch for
that. Working in a new scheme, this defense held the Jacksonville Jaguars to just
one offensive touchdown, and to zero points in the second half of the game. They
need to build on that.
week neither of these starting quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass. Eli
Manning will once again face a tough pass rushing unit, but the Cowboys secondary
will be easier to throw on. There was some
talk that Dak Prescott sustained a late game ankle injury in the loss to the Panthers,
and that defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence missed some practice nursing a groin
injury. We won't know if any of that will be a factor until later in the game.
Whichever team loses will be dead last in the division no matter the outcome of
the other team's games. We think it will take more than a few games before the
Cowboys can adjust to not having two of their long time top receivers (Jason Witten,
Dez Bryant) playing, so the Giants should take this one.
Sunday at 1:00pm Eagles (1-0)
at Tampa Bay (1-0).
Sunday at 1:00pm Colts (0-1) at Redskins (1-0).
at 8:20pm Giants (0-1) at Cowboys (0-1).
The Eagles, Redskins, and Cowboys
are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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in 15 of the 18 seasons they started with two straight losses, have ended with
a losing record.
Giants lost both games
to the Cowboys last season.
Barkley's 106 rushing yards was the third highest in the NFL last week.
are 10-2 in regular season games when Ezekiel Elliott rushes for at least 100
Cowboys have passed for more than
200 yards in just two of their last nine games.Since
1990, (NFL went to 12 playoff teams), 87.8 percent of teams who started 0-2 missed
Sept 23 Giants at Houston.
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