The New York Giants will look to get their first win of the season and stay out of the NFC East cellar as they take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football at AT&T Stadium.
Anytime the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys, it’s always a big game. But there’s a heightened importance heading into their first matchup of the season on Sunday Night Football as the loser will find themselves all alone in the basement of the NFC East.
We’re only in Week 2, so this is not a must-win game, but it’s imperative that the Giants pick up a win to avoid a 0-2 hole and forced to play catch up with the rest of the division.
Here’s what the Giants must do in order to defeat their division rival:
The Cowboys offense goes as Ezekiel Elliott does. The main reason why the Panthers held the Cowboys to eight points last week was due to the fact they held Elliott to 69 yards on 15 carries.
The one time Elliott faced the Giants last year was in the season opener where he rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries and paved the way for the Cowboys to win, 19-3. The Giants know they can’t allow Elliott to have a similar game on Sunday night or they’ll be 0-2.
Stopping the Cowboys ground game might be easier than it has in the past as Cowboys Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick is out due to his battle with autoimmune disease. Damon Harrison should be able to dominate Cowboys backup center Joe Looney.
Landon Collins knows the importance of stopping Ezekiel Elliott. He thinks if they put the ball in Dak Prescott’s hands, “I think we have a better shot of winning.” #Giants pic.twitter.com/1uKIptk4aN
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 12, 2018
Look for the Giants defense to have Landon Collins lineup at the line of scrimmage to help stop Elliott and force Dak Prescott to try to beat them. If the Giants can stop or contain Elliott and force Prescott to throw the ball over 30 times, the Giants will win.
Don’t Lose The Turnover Battle
What ultimately did in the Giants last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars was the fact that they lost the turnover battle two to one. The first turnover was a pick six. The second turnover was a muffed punt that ended the game.
In another game that should be close, the Giants cannot afford to lose the turnover battle. The emphasis has to be on ball security especially for quarterback Eli Manning. The only playmaker the Cowboys have on offense is Elliott, so if the Giants don’t turn the ball over and give the Cowboys a short field, it’s hard to imagine the Cowboys scoring many points on Sunday.
Convert Red-Zone Opportunities Into Touchdowns
Inefficiency in the red zone has plagued the Giants for years and it reared its ugly head last week against the Jaguars. Twice, the Giants had the ball inside the Jaguars 15-yard-line and twice, they had to settle for field goals.
The Giants aren’t good enough to overcome settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. When the Giants get in the red zone on Sunday, they have to make sure they come away with touchdowns. Manning should look for Evan Engram in the red zone because Engram will have size and athletic advantages over the Cowboys secondary.
O-Line Must Get Its Act Together
Ereck Flowers received the brunt of the offensive-line woes against the Jaguars, as he should, but nobody on the offensive line had a good game. They lost the battle of the line of scrimmage and as a result, Manning faced constant pressure while Saquon Barkley couldn’t find any running lanes.
If you take away Barkley’s 68-yard yard touchdown that saw him break three tackles, the Giants gained just 46 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
.@Giants got beat Sunday because they got whipped up front. @Jaguars play a different brand of football and if you can’t handle them up front it doesn’t matter how shiny the toys are in the outside. #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/ty9M443OWq
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 11, 2018
The Cowboys defensive front is nowhere near as talented as the Jaguars, but defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has given the Giants fits in the past.
The offensive line must play better this Sunday against Lawrence and the rest of the Cowboys front seven to allow their playmakers to make plays.
Get The Ball To OBJ & Saquon
When in doubt, the Giants need to get the ball into their best two playmakers hands, Odell Beckham Jr. and Barkley.
Last week in his first game in 11 months, Beckham torched the talented Jaguars secondary catching 11 passes for 111 yards. Despite being held in check for most of the game, Barkley was able to break off a 68 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Beckham and Barkley should both have even bigger games on Sunday as the Cowboys defense while formidable is not on the level of the Jaguars defense. Giants need to get the ball into their hands early and often.
Nobody was happier when Jason Witten retired than the New York Giants as he was a thorn in their side ever since he came into the league. With the retirement of Witten and the release of Dez Bryant, there’s nobody on the Cowboys offense except for Elliott that can cause the Giants any problems.
The Giants offense will begin to get on track this week and they pick up a hard fought win.