New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys NFL Week 1 Predictions

Giants and Cowboys Lined up to start a play

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, September 11, 2016 3:25 PM GMT

Sunday, Sep. 11, 2016 3:25 PM GMT

The Dallas Cowboys are 8-0 all-time against their NFC East rival New York Giants in season openers. But with a rookie QB under center for Dallas on Sunday, that streak appears likely to end. Dallas is -1 on NFL odds with a total of 46.

Giants' Offense Should Be Among NFL's Best
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has always been overshadowed by older brother Peyton, who retired after a record four NFL MVP Awards and tying Eli with a second Super Bowl ring when Denver won Super Bowl 50 over Carolina. Could Eli win his first MVP this season? He could be poised to and is priced at +2500 on NFL betting odds at sportsbooks.

Why is Eli set for a big season? For one, the Giants' new head coach is Ben McAdoo, who was Manning's offensive coordinator the past two years. When the team pushed out head coach Tom Coughlin this offseason, Manning was among the loudest voices in backing McAdoo to get the top job even though McAdoo had only been an NFL coordinator for two years. But it worked. Manning had the highest-rated season of his career in 2015 in completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 4,436 yards and 32 touchdowns (career high). New York finished eighth in the NFL in yards overall and sixth in scoring with 420 points.

A third season in the same system can only help Manning as can having his former coordinator now making all the decisions. Plus the Giants welcome back receiver Victor Cruz. Not that long ago, he was considered one of the NFL's premier receivers but he didn't play at all last year and just six games in 2014 due to injuries. So the Giants have barely had Cruz and third-year superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the field at the same time. Add in promising second-round rookie Sterling Shepard and New York could have one of the NFL's top receiving trios. Is the running game great? The offensive line a strength? No and no.

New York didn't fire defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo even though his unit was last in the NFL in 2015. The front office spent about $200 million in free agency to upgrade that unit in the offseason in landing end Olivier Vernon (Dolphins), tackle Damon Harrison (Jets) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Rams). The team also used three of its first four draft picks this year on defensive players, led by first-round cornerback Eli Apple of Ohio State.

 

Now It Gets Real For Cowboys' Prescott
The biggest news of the 2016 preseason was the broken vertebra suffered by Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo. The team opted to not put him on injured reserve, but he's going to miss at least the first six games. The Cowboys were just 1-11 last year in the 12 games Romo missed with a broken collarbone and they are 10-23 in the regular season when Romo is out injured compared to 78-49 when he starts.

The other big story of the preseason was the play of Cowboys fourth-round rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. No player -- rookie or veteran -- was more impressive. Prescott completed 78 percent of his passes for 454 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions a QB rating of 137.8 (that would be a single-season  NFL record by far). He also rushed for 53 yards and two TDs. Great numbers, but also generally against non-starters on the opposing defense. Prescott will be the first rookie Week 1 starter under center for Dallas since 2001.

Prescott will be joined in the backfield by the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year betting favorite at sportsbooks in running back Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 4 overall pick out of Ohio State. Because of a hamstring injury, Elliott played in just one preseason game and had 48 yards rushing on seven carries against Seattle -- the same game Romo left early with his injury. Prescott and Elliott will be the first rookies to start an opener at quarterback and running back for Dallas since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969. That Dallas team went 11-2-1 and made the playoffs, but it should be noted that Staubach only started Week 1. One positive for Prescott and Elliott is they will be behind the NFL's best offensive line.

The Cowboys essentially ignored their defense this offseason and that unit was mediocre in 2015. In addition, three likely starters, ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and linebacker Rolando McClain, are all suspended at least the first four games of the regular season.

 

Giants vs. Cowboys Series History
Dallas beat the visiting Giants in Week 1 last year, 27-26 on a Romo 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten with seven seconds left. The Giants led 23-13 midway through the fourth quarter. New York struggled offensively but had three takeaways. The Giants ended a five-game losing streak in the series with a 27-20 Week 7 home win last year when Romo and Dez Bryant were both out injured. Behind QB Matt Cassel, Dallas turned it over four times.

 

NFL Predictions
Dallas was favored by 3.5 points and the total was 49 back before Romo was hurt. The heavy lean is on the Giants at top rated sportsbooks. Rookie QBs generally get a rude welcome in the NFL in their first game. Take New York here and go 'over' the total. The 'over' is 7-0 in the past seven meetings. New York is 5-2 ATS in its past seven in  Dallas.

NFL Pick: Giants & Over
Best Line Offered:  at 5Dimes

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