Although it’s only Week 1, Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys is almost a must-win game for the New York Giants.
Believe it or not, the New York Giants have not won a season opener since 2010, and have never beaten the Dallas Cowboys in a season opener in the history of their franchise.
But there are several factors favoring the Giants heading into Sunday’s game, which should be enough to end both of those losing streaks.
The Cowboys are starting a rookie quarterback and running back
Dak Prescott had a great preseason and showed that he has a promising future.
However, he was playing against defenses that weren’t showing him any exotic coverages or blitz schemes.
If people think Prescott is an upgrade over the injured Tony Romo, they are sadly mistaken.
Rookie quarterbacks are prone to make mistakes, and Sunday will be no different. So, don’t be surprised if turnovers or poor throws are abundant.
Ezekiel Elliott was by far and away the best running back in this year’s draft, but injuries limited him to playing in only one game this preseason.
And he’s still a rookie – factor in nerves and lack of professional experience.
Expect for Steve Spagnuolo to blitz often on Sunday.
Prescott and Elliott will be just the 8th rookie QB-RB combination to start week 1 for the same team since the NFL merger in 1970.
The previous seven QB-RB combinations have a record of 3-4.
The Giants defense is much better than last year
If not for poor clock management in the final minutes, the Giants would have beaten the Cowboys last year in the season opener.
Not to mention, New York featured one of their worst defenses in franchise history last season.
After spending $200 million this offseason in free agency, the Giants defense is much improved from last year’s.
Defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison will slow down the Cowboys running game, and force them to throw more often than they would like.
That’s when the Cowboys will find out the Giants pass defense is much better than last year.
Free agent cornerback Janoris Jenkins, rookies Eli Apple and Darian Thompson, a slimmed down Landon Collins to go along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will make life difficult for the rookie – Prescott – on Sunday.
The Cowboys have three suspended players on defense
The Cowboys ranked 17th last season in total defense, and they’ll be without three key defensive players on Sunday due to suspensions (Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory).
The weakest part of the Giants team is their offensive line, but with the Cowboys missing three players from their front seven, the line should be able to give Eli Manning time to pick apart the Cowboys secondary.
The Giants are healthy and deep at the skills position
With Victor Cruz finally healthy, he and rookie Sterling Shepard give the Giants two viable receiving options to go along with Odell Beckham Jr.
In fact, this is the best trio of receivers the Giants have had since they won Super Bowl XLVI.
Tavarres King will also see playing time after catching three touchdowns in the Giants final two preseason games.
In addition to the receivers, all of the Giants running backs (Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey, and Paul Perkins) are versatile and catch passes coming out of the backfield.
As we mentioned previously, the Cowboys will be without key defenders and they simply aren’t equipped to stop the Giants offense.
Vengeance is on the Giants’ mind
Though they’ll never admit it publicly, the way the Giants lost last year’s season opener is still a bitter pill to swallow for the players that are still on the team.
Winning on Sunday will rewrite the wrong that happened last year and give them a much-needed road win (in the division) to start the season.