Division games are always tough in the NFC East no matter what each team’s record says. Since Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have entered the league, they are 2-2 when facing Eli Manning. This will be the fifth time Dak faces the Giants in what should be an exciting Sunday night game. We’ll be going over the 3 key battles that are a “must” for the Cowboys to get their first win of the new campaign.
1. Cowboys receiving core vs Giants defensive backs
The New York Giants are rolling into the season with a solid back field that will give these Cowboys receivers trouble. Cole Beasley had solid game against the Panthers racking up 73 yards on 7 receptions. Beasley may be this team’s best receiver at the moment and will be heavily relied on to get the air attack going. However, one man won’t be enough to get the win this week. Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, and Deonte Thompson will all be battling against Janoris Jenkins or Eli Apple on the outside of the hash marks. These guys have to create space and make the most of their opportunities. Last week these 3 receivers combined for 5 receptions and 53 yards. Stretching the field will also be a big task as the Giants have All-pro, Landon Collins, at safety. Collins has been known for his physicality and toughness since entering the league. This match-up will play a big role in preventing the Giants from stacking the box. If these receivers can win their battles, Dallas will be eyeing its first win.
2. Cowboys’ defensive line vs Giants’ offensive line
This defensive line put up 3 sacks against Cam Newton last week and will look to keep the streak alive. Everyone knows that Odell Beckham is going to be a problem for any corner this league has to offer, but putting pressure on Eli will negate him. The Giants have done their best to revamp their offensive line which only gave up 2 sacks against a top tier defense in Jacksonville. Rod Marinelli has been stressing to the team to put more pressure on quarterbacks in order to disrupt the pass. Demarcus Lawrence has already started off the season with 1 sack and 3 tackles for loss. The Cowboys also had 2 other sacks by Maliek Collins and Jaylon Smith. The Cowboys need to get to Eli early and often in order to throw him off his rhythm. Eli has shown time and time again that he isn’t scared of throwing the ball into tight coverage. Bringing the heat to Eli will give the Cowboys a great shot at turnovers and ultimately a win for the home team.
3. Jason Garrett vs Pat Shurmur
Over the course of the past few seasons, Jason Garrett’s ability to coach has come into question many times. Too many players and coaches have said that his schemes are too basic. It’ll be up to Garrett and his coaching staff to piece together a game plan that will put his players in the best position to win. Shurmur is known for putting together some great offensive schemes. Last season he helped the Vikings reach the NFC Conference game with an offense that had Case Keenum at the gun. Now that he has a veteran like Eli, and a receiver like Odell, Shurmur will look to have another solid offensive year. Garrett will need need to think outside of the box in order to stand a chance. If he becomes too predictable, the Cowboys will be in for a long game.
These match-ups will be the keys to winning this game and beginning a winning streak. After Sunday’s game, 1 of these teams will have a much tougher road to the playoffs, and the other will be a step closer to reaching their goals. Hope everyone enjoys the first NFC East divisional match-up of the season.
Photo: CBS Sports