Heading into the first game of the 2016 regular season, the New York Giants look to overcome the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. History is against the Giants, as they have never won a season opening game against the Cowboys. If the Giants can take advantage of these three matchups, they should have an easy time getting their first season opening win against the Cowboys ever.
At the line of scrimmage, the Giants defensive line will need to find a way to out-play the Cowboys league-best offensive line. Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul will have matchups against Tyron Smith and Doug Free, two of the best offensive tackles in the NFL. Vernon and Pierre-Paul as a duo will have the advantage in nearly every NFL game this season, but against Smith and Free, they will have to be creative to get to the Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott. On the inside of the defensive line, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Jonathan Hankins will have to go against a mixture of Zack Martin, La’el Collins, and Travis Frederick. Martin, Collins, and Frederick make for one of, if not the best interior of an offensive line in the NFL. Harrison and Hankins will have a very tough time stopping the Cowboys running back, Ezekiel Elliott. The Giants will need to be creative in order to outsmart the Cowboys offensive line. If they want a chance at beating the Cowboys, they will need to find a way to get to the quarterback. Giving Prescott too much time in the pocket will hurt the Giants, as it will require the secondary to cover the receivers for a longer period of time. It is key for the Giants to outplay the Cowboys offensive line on Sunday.
Looking to the backend of the defense, the Giants’ linebackers and secondary will need to cover the Cowboys’ receivers and tight ends far better than they did last season. Dez Bryant is healthy, and that means he is likely back to his top 7 wide receiver form. Bryant is far bigger than any of the Giants’ cornerbacks, so it is extremely important for Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to stay with Bryant and knock away some passes. Jason Witten, the man who caught the game-winning touchdown in last year’s Giants vs. Cowboys matchup, has looked good this preseason. Team captain Jonathan Casillas and the rest of the Giants’ linebackers will need to maintain Witten in the middle of the field and limit his receptions. If the Giants can limit the Cowboys recievers and tight ends, it will take a ton of pressure off of the defensive line and will make it impossible for the Cowboys to put many points on the board.
Odell Beckham Jr vs. Brandon Carr is the final matchup that the Giants need to win in order to acquire a win this week. Carr is most famously known for being on the bad end of Beckham’s famous bending, one-handed touchdown grab two seasons ago. However, Carr was able to limit Beckham to less than 100 yards last year. Beckham will need to play far better than he did against Carr last year if he wants to give the Giants any chance at putting points on the board. While Giants’ receivers Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard will have their own opportunities, Beckham is without a doubt the Giants best receiving option. He will need to beat Carr throughout Sunday’s game to get the Giants a win.
These three matchups are the key matchups to watch this week as they all can go either way. If the Giants can win at least two of these three matchups, they are in good position to get a win in a moderate rated matchup against a very talented Cowboys’ offense, but an extremely mediocre Cowboys defense.