Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants: What to watch for

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Jason Witten /

As the 2017 NFL season officially starts Sunday night for the Dallas Cowboys, here is what to watch for in their pivotal divisional matchup vs. New York.

Well people, the NFL season is officially underway for 2017!

Thursday night kicked off the festivities with an eye-opening performance.  In case you missed it, the Kansas City Chiefs surprised the New England Patriots, handing them a 42-27 home loss.

With that dominating upset, it just goes to show you never really know what’s going to happen week to week.

For Dallas Cowboys fans, they will have to wait until Sunday night to see their team.  Thankfully, it comes with the territory of fandom for this team.  The Cowboys seem to be NBC’s go to for closing the first week of the season.  It also appears that their opponent is a necessary ingredient as well.

Since 2011, this will be the Cowboys fifth appearance on Sunday Night Football in Week One.  It will also be the fifth time their opening opponent has been the New York Giants.

One would think that such a scenario would provide a whole bunch of familiarity… and it does, but every game is different.

Here are some things to what to watch for in this pivotal divisional matchup tomorrow night:

  • Undoubtedly, you’ve been hearing a lot about the Giants “mastery” of Dallas last year.  With the Cowboys losing just three regular season games, it’s impressive that New York was the reason for two of them.  The Giants were able to hold a team that averaged 26.3 points per game to that same number, total, in both games last year.

While they deserve credit for doing so, don’t sleep on the Cowboys defense against them either.  The Cowboys gave up just 30 total points in both games.  Dallas held Giants quarterback Eli Manning to 400 total passing yards.  They also did not allow any rusher or receiver to eclipse 100 yards in either game.

  • Speaking of last year, the Giants did well to confuse and frustrate Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.  New York was responsible for Prescott’s two worst quarterback ratings in 2016.  Expect that to change tonight.

The first meeting last season was Prescott’s first game as a pro.  The second meeting was in the midst of a mini end-of-year slump.  This year, not only will Dak have the benefit of an entire offseason to figure out their defense.  He’ll also have the benefit of growing as a player heading into year two.

  • The status of Giants start wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. is very much up in the air tonight.  Beckham was at practice all week but did not participate.  He was only capable of doing light warm up drills.

If the Giants are without him, it would be difficult to see how New York wins this game.  The Giants have done better this offseason to improve offensively, but he’s without question their main weapon.  He had twice the amount of yardage as the next best receiver on his team last year.  He also had just three less receptions than the next two guys on his team combined.

  • Expect a very close game.  Only one time since the 2012 season has the winning team done so by more than a touchdown.  In fact, five of the last seven games have been decided by a field goal or less.  If Beckham, Jr. sits, it’s possible that Dallas wins by more than a touchdown but the Giants defense will keep them in it.

For some reason, I can see some fireworks early in the game.  Maybe there is a miscommunication in the Cowboys young secondary.  Prescott could led this team on a couple of successful early drives to counter.  Once everyone is settled though, I would not be shocked to see the scoring come at a premium.

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The Cowboys are favored by four to win this game.  Again, a lot of that depends on the availability of OBJ.  I’m going to work under the assumption he plays.  Give Ezekiel Elliott another 100+ yard performance and a Dez Bryant a nice revenge against Janoris Jenkins.  Most importantly, Dallas starts off 2017 with a “W.”

The prediction: Giants 20, Cowboys 23