By Zach Walker
Brought to you by: Big Shucks
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday – September 11 – 3:25 p.m.
AT&T Stadium – Arlington – Texas
Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
WR Odell Beckham Jr. – I’m in zero ways a fan of Beckham, but the guy just seems to get his. It doesn’t really seem to derail him what the opponent across from him can do*. The opponents on Sunday won’t strike fear in Beckham or Eli Manning, either. Brandon Carr made him famous, Morris Claiborne is looking stronger but still has that “Mo Magic” that has gotten Mo to this point in his career, and Orlando Scandrick is likely going to be matched up with either Victor Cruz or Sterling Shepard. The best thing that Beckham has going for him is Eli Manning. Eli never seems bothered by incompletions and will just force feed a receiver, and that won’t change any time soon.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
The rookie backfield – Ezekiel Elliott was going to have enough eyes on him, anyways. Add to the mix, a rookie fourth round quarterback, and there might be a second spider-wire cam with its own internet stream. The plan for the team was obvious from April on. Get back to running the ball with authority, and have the quarterback make smart and concise decisions with the ball. Back to 2014 football. It keeps the ball under Cowboys’ control longer and exposes the defense less. The game here is not doing TOO much. Dak doesn’t need to lower the shoulder for extra yards. Zeke doesn’t need eighty snaps, use the bullpen of Alfred and Dunbar. There doesn’t need to be a leash or a pitch-count, but smart managing needs to be topping the Cowboys’ importance chart.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Giants’ cornerbacks – I really do think the matchup of the Cowboys’ receivers versus the Giants’ corners are a solid matchup. The freshly purchased Janoris Jenkins against Dez Bryant, that’s pretty strong. The mercenary Dominique Rogers-Cromartie across from Terrence Williams. The rookie first round pick, Eli Apple attempting to contain Cole Beasley. The veteran Leon Hall against Brice Butler. I like the edge going in the Cowboys’ favor (mostly from Dez and Beasley) but that’s not the real issue here. It’s what the windows will look like through Dak Prescott’s eyes. He played against above average corners in the preseason game versus the Seahawks, sans Dez Bryant. But this isn’t decaf anymore. This is double-shot espresso with a Red Bull IV and a ‘Boilermaker’ chaser. The transition to the NFL ramps up for Prescott on Sunday afternoon, and he’s likely going to choose his first two reads on the play and accept the yardage yielded by the coverage.
Which group will give the Giants fits?
The Dallas running backs – Going into the draft with Darren McFadden and having peeled Alfred Morris from Washington, I thought that was a saucy combo to regain the East with Romo returning. Draft Zeke Elliott, and the run to pass ratio might seriously skew ground game. Despite McFadden being down the injury, the Zeke and Morris combo is a highly capable duo. The Giants might have bought better defensive line and secondary help, but those linebackers are still on the ‘needs improvement’ side. When the Cowboys’ offensive line gets to the second level, it’ll be a wash. Factor in a fullback and the Giants might give up 150 plus yards on the ground.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
A positive turnover margin – Giving the rookie more opportunities is the way to take pressure off of him and get the defense aggressive and mistake heavy. Pressure on Eli Manning is a good idea too. Tyrone Crawford is as good as anybody in the league at getting pressure on quarterbacks, in the same group as Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, and JJ Watt.
Prediction: Cowboys 28 – Giants 27