Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Now that the New York Giants have announced their 53-man roster, the countdown to the season opener against the Cowboys begins.

Jason Leach

The New York Giants revealed their 53-man roster on Saturday afternoon. They’ll return to the practice field on Monday as they prepare to take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 8 at AT&T Stadium.

This will be the first step for the Giants in changing their misfortunes over the last two seasons (8-24). Better yet, it’s an opportunity to show that ownership and general manager Dave Gettleman made the right moves in the offseason.

In addition to the standard 53-man news dumps, Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that contract talks have intensified between the Cowboys and their Pro Bowl running back, Ezekiel Elliott. Both sides are hoping to have a deal done this weekend.

Elliott had been holding out all summer in hopes of getting a new deal done, and the thought was he could miss the first few games of the season. But now it seems like a real possibility he could suit up against Big Blue in the season opener.

Elliott’s status won’t shift the focus of the Giants. They’ve beaten the Cowboys when Elliott was on the field. But they have also been on the losing end against their longtime rival when Elliott hasn’t played.

The Cowboys secured a 30-10 victory over the Giants in Week 14 two seasons ago. Additionally, the Cowboys came out on top of a nailbiter during the 2018 season finale (36-35).

Even if Elliott isn’t on the field, the Giants can’t afford to let their guard down. It will be imperative for the Giants to slow down the Cowboys ground game, regardless of who is in their backfield.

Last season, the Cowboys averaged 122.7 yards per game on the ground, and in five of the last six meetings against the Giants, they have tallied over 100 yards on the ground.

In an effort to address suspect run defense, the Giants took Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence with the 17th overall pick in the draft. The 6-foot-4, 342-pound lineman will play alongside the similarly massive Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J Hill.

That trio has the size and physicality to cause problems for the Dallas’ offensive line. That unit consists of Pro Bowlers Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick, who missed all of last season.

One could make the argument that the Giants’ defensive line is the strongest part of the defense. If they can win the war in the trenches and neutralize the Cowboys ground game, they’ll force Dak Prescott to try to beat them with his arm. That’s the blueprint for taking down Dallas.

Divisional games are always important, but there’s even a more heightened pressure for the Giants to come away with win against the Cowboys. It’s an opportunity to start the season on a high note and ride the momentum of a 4-0 preseason record.

The Cowboys have bested the Giants the past few seasons, winning seven out of the last ten meetings. That includes series sweeps in each of the last two years. But if the Giants can reverse the tide and pull off the upset in the season opener (remember 2016?), this could be the first step towards a winning season.

As we saw throughout the summer, the Giants are a united and focused team. Fans should feel confident about the Giants going into Week 1 against Dallas.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.