Dak Prescott, Eli Manning
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Giants will look to end their four-game losing streak against the Dallas Cowboys by pulling off the road upset. 

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the New York Giants will begin their season in Dallas to take on the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have gotten the better of the Giants over the last several seasons, winning seven of the last 10 games, and have also swept the last two season series.

But Pat Shurmur’s team comes into Dallas a confident group. They’ll look to pull off the road win and begin the new campaign on a high note.

Divisional games are always difficult, especially to start the season. Plus, this is the NFC East, which means a close game has to be expected.

Here are the keys to victory for the New York Giants:

1. Keep Eli Manning upright

In last year’s meeting at Dallas, the Cowboys sacked Eli Manning six times and pressured him constantly. The main culprit for the pressure that was laid on Manning was DeMarcus Lawrence, who overwhelmed Nate Solder.

The Giants have no chance of winning if the Cowboys if Manning is under constant duress. It’s imperative that the line give Manning time to find his receivers. If Solder and right tackle Mike Remmers struggle to protect Manning against Lawrence and the rest of the Cowboys front seven, the Giants will need to use tight ends Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison in max protect looks.

2. Stop the run

Now that Ezekiel Elliott ended his holdout and signed a six-year extension, the Cowboys will hand him the ball often on Sunday as he tries to win the rushing title for the second year in a row. The Giants defensive front seven, especially their three linemen, B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence, cannot get overmatched by the Cowboys offensive line.

If they can stop Zeke and make Dak Prescott try to beat them with his arm, the new wrinkles in James Bettcher’s defense can make life difficult for those Boys.

3. Feed Saquon the ball

The Giants offense will go as far as their superstar running back Saquon Barkley can take them. Whether it’s running the ball or catching passes out of the backfield, the Giants need to get the ball into Barkley’s hands around 25 times.

In the two games against the Cowboys last season, Barkley averaged 125 all-purpose yards per game. If Barkley can get above his average of last season, the Giants stand a good chance of pulling off the upset.

4. Take chances downfield

At the start of the regular season, defenses are well ahead of offenses. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears’ Thursday night game was evidence of just that. So it will be difficult for the Giants to sustain 10-15 play drives against a Cowboys defense that’s one of the best in the league.

The Giants need to attack the Cowboys secondary deep a few times on Sunday and try to get a big chunk of yardage that way. Evan Engram and Cody Latimer will be the ideal candidates to see if they can beat Byron Jones and the rest of the secondary deep. Even if they don’t complete a pass, they may draw a pass interference penalty that will set them up in good field position.

New York Giants

5. Special teams need to be special

The third phase of the game is often overlooked but sometimes is the difference between victory and defeat. On paper, the Cowboys have the better offense and defense; but if you look at special teams, the edge would have to go to the Giants with Pro Bowlers Michael Thomas and Aldrick Rosas.

Jabrill Peppers is listed as the team’s punt returner, so maybe it’s a long return by Peppers, a blocked kick or perhaps a long Rosas field goal that could sway the game into the Giants favor.

6. Win the turnover battle

Winning the turnover battle is pivotal in every game and coaches always preach the importance of ball security. The Giants lost the turnover battle in both games against Dallas last season.

One of the best ways to eke out a victory as an underdog on the road is to create turnovers and gain extra possessions for your offense.

Prediction

We’ll see on Sunday that the Giants defense is vastly improved compared to a season ago. But it will take some time for the offense to get going as this unit was never fully together on the field during the preseason. They’ll make plays here and there, but not enough to pull out the win.

Cowboys 20, Giants 16

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