GIANTS VS. COWBOYS
SUNDAY, 8:30 P.M. ET, AT&T STADIUM, ARLINGTON, TEXAS uTV:
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
About the Giants: For an offense that included high-level talents QB and WR New York’s was shockingly unproductive last season, ranking 25th in the NFL in total offense and 26th in scoring with 19.4 points per game. It didn’t look any better in the preseason, as the first unit scored only one touchdown. If the game comes down to a field goal, the Giants are confident in K a free agent from Southern Oregon who won the job with a perfect preseason that ended with four field goals, including a game-winning 48-yarder on the final play against New England.
About the Cowboys: The defending NFC East champions enter the season with confidence and one of the NFL’s most potent offenses, but they could be without one of their top weapons. RB is supposed to sit out Sunday’s game as he begins a sixgame suspension stemming from a domesticviolence accusation, but because his case has been appealed and could end up in court, he might be able to play. If he sits, the question becomes what effect his absence has.
Coming off a solid 2016 season, Pierre-Paul appears to be back to his dominant pre-handinjury level with his preseason performance. In the limited playing time given to the starters, JPP rang up 11⁄ sacks, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, an interception and a safety. He’ll be a huge early test for Collins, playing the right side for the first time after moving from left guard. Giants safety Landon Collins can dominate a game at will.
In a game filled with stars, the third-year strong safety might be the best player on the field. Collins has developed into one of the league’s most impactful defenders, a ballhawk who fills the defensive stat sheet with all sorts of big plays and can dominate a game from the safety position. He’s already in peak form, having roared through the preseason in full destroyer mode.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
The Cowboys offense vs. the Giants defense is a classic strength-against-strength matchup. The Cowboys ranked fifth in the league in scoring (26.3 points per game) in 2016, and the offense looked strong in its preseason work — especially QB who finished with a 138.5 passer rating. But the Giants, who last season were second in scoring defense (17.8 ppg) and held the Cowboys to under 20 points twice, were impenetrable in the preseason.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Ground control: Elliott didn’t get much preseason work because of nagging injuries, but backups and
both averaged more than 5 yards per carry, providing hope the run game will be fine even if the young star can’t play.
Dallas’ already suspect defense heads into the opener missing a few key pieces. That means more is expected from DE Dallas’ top draft choice, and LB attempting an epic comeback from a devastating knee injury.
The Giants added longtime star WR during the offseason to help draw coverage away from Beckham. Those two are joined by up-andcoming WR Sterling Shepard and firstround TE Evan Engram.
4. Shaky protection: The Giants’ biggest offensive issues are up front, where LT
struggles became a flashpoint for a line that left Manning running for his life and provided little help for the rushing attack.