NFL Week 1 Early Picks: Cowboys Will Have Dez Bryant vs. Giants

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 10:53 PM GMT

Dallas backers can relax. Star WR Dez Bryant threatened to miss regular-season games without a new contract, but he and the team agreed Wednesday. He will be in there in Week 1 vs. the visiting Giants, with Dallas -5.5 on 5Dimes with a total of 49.5.

Bryant Gets His Money
Frankly, it was all nonsense when Bryant threatened to  miss training camp and then some games without a new deal. The Cowboys slapped the franchise tag on Bryant, but he wanted long-term security and not just some one-year bonanza. The deadline for all NFL teams to sign their franchised players to long-term deals was Wednesday afternoon. Miss that and the players must play on the franchise tag. That's why it was ridiculous that Bryant said he would miss games because there would have been nothing Dallas could have done in terms of a new contract. Bryant would have just been costing himself game checks.

It's a moot point now as Bryant got a five-year, $70 million extension. All NFL contracts are pretty much worthless on their face as they are not guaranteed so you have to go by what is guaranteed. Bryant will get $45 million at a minimum. If you go by annual value, Bryant would make $14 million a year, which is better than the $12.82 million he would have gotten on the franchise tag. Bryant originally was aiming for $16 million, which Detroit's Calvin Johnson makes as the NFL's highest-paid receiver.

The Cowboys essentially had to choose this offseason between keeping star running back DeMarco Murray or Bryant and they obviously chose the latter. That's the modern-day NFL for you in that Pro Bowl receivers have become more valuable than similar running backs. Bryant was a monster last season with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and a NFL-leading and Cowboys record 16 touchdowns. He has had at least 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 scores each of the past three seasons and hasn't missed a game. The talent is undeniable. There are still some minor character worries. It's not clear if the Cowboys inserted such language in the contract.

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2014 Recaps
Dallas was 12-4 last season, including 8-0 on the road, in winning the NFC East and not only saving Coach Jason Garrett's job but getting him a five-year, $30 million extension. Dallas was one questionable Bryant catch ruling in Green Bay away from playing in the NFC Championship Game. The team relied so heavily on Murray last season that I don't see how this year's club can be better. Sure, the Cowboys might have the NFL's best offensive line, but are you really going to trust Joseph Randle and/or Darren McFadden to be your featured back? Bryant may see more double-teams now. The Cowboys' big offseason acquisition was defensive end Greg Hardy, but he will miss the first four games due to suspension -- it was originally 10 but knocked down by an arbitrator.

The Cowboys have a wins total of 9, with the 'over' a -140 favorite.

As for the New York Giants, they come off a 6-10 mark, the third straight season they missed the playoffs since winning Super Bowl XLVI over New England. I'm surprised that Coach Tom Coughlin was brought back but this likely will be his swan-song no matter what the team does. New York has a Bryant-type of its own in 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr. He was a human highlight reel in 2014, catching 91 balls for 1,305 yards and 12 scores in only 12 games. He's also your "Madden 2015" cover boy. That often doesn't end well per the Madden Cover Jinx. The Giants will be without starting left tackle Will Beatty likely into November after he tore a pectoral muscle while lifting weights. That could be a problem for QB Eli Manning.

The Giants have a wins total of 8, with the 'under' a -140 favorite.

 

Last Season's Meetings
Dallas swept. The Cowboys won 31-21 at home in Week 7 as 4.5-point favorites on NFL odds with a total of 47. Romo threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Bryant caught nine for 151 but no scores. Murray rushed 28 times for 128 yards and a touchdown, setting an NFL record with his seventh straight 100-yard game to begin a season. Manning was very good, throwing for 248 yard and three scores. Beckham caught four passes for 34 yards and two TDs.

In Week 12 in New Jersey, Dallas won 31-28 as a 4-point favorite at sportsbooks (total of 48). Fans of both teams may remember that game most for Beckham's insanely acrobatic catch, maybe the best ever in the NFL's regular season. He was great with 10 catches for 146 yards and two scores, while Manning threw for 338 and three TDs. Romo was better, throwing for 275 yards and four scores without a turnover. Bryant caught seven for 86 and two scores. Murray rushed for 121 yards.

NFL Free Pick: The Cowboys have covered just four of the past 10 as a home favorite in this series but have the past two. The 'over' has hit in five straight Dallas home games in series when favored. So Cowboys -5.5 and 'over' 49.5 at 5Dimes it is.