The Giants look to snap the Cowboys’ four-game winning streak in this series, as they head to Dallas for their season opener Sunday (8:30 p.m., NBC).
New York had an eventful offseason (the Jason Pierre-Paul mess) and an uneven preseason (going 2-2 and enduring touchdown droughts), so they’ll look to put the past behind them and begin their journey of trying to end their three-year playoff drought.
Metro takes a look at key storylines to watch ahead of Sunday’s primetime tilt.
What to watch for:
1. Can Eli Manning and the starters get into the end zone?
Sure, he saw limited action in the preseason, but the offensive struggles of Manning and his co-starters was real. The starters nary saw the end zone, leaving the point-scoring to kicker Josh Brown. Manning didn’t throw a touchdown pass in the preseason, unless his pick-six to the Jets in the third exhibition game counts. Manning truly has a grasp on Ben McAdoo’s two-year old offense, so ultimately Big Blue’s first unit will get into the end zone. But until they actually do, it’ll remain a concern. Dallas ranked sixth in passing touchdowns allowed, but 31st in rushing touchdowns allowed, last season, so maybe there’s hope for Manning and Co.
2. Who steps up and becomes Odell Beckham Jr.’s sidekick?
Wideout Victor Cruz won’t likely be seen on Sunday, due to a troublesome calf injury, so that means someone else has to step up and be a viable No. 2 to help ease Beckham’s burden. Luckily for Manning, there are several options to help alleviate the pressure. It could be wideout Rueben Randle, who can set himself up nicely by having a breakout game in the opening game of his contract season. Or tight end Larry Donnell, whose success snuck up on opponents last season. Or even someone like running back Shane Vereen, who has been one of the league’s best receiving backs, after notching 107 receptions for his previous employer in New England. The last time Vereen played in a meaningful game, he tallied 11 catches in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks. The Cowboys don’t have nearly the same defense, so maybe Vereen is due for a repeat performance – or better.
3. Can Big Blue slow down Dallas’ rushing attack?
The Cowboys posses arguably the most dominating offensive line in the league. And even though they lost last season’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, to the rival Eagles, many pundits think they can plug in any running back and get the same results. They’ll get the chance to highlight their new rotation of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle, and Lance Dunbar against a Giants’ run defense that is among the league’s worst. New York was 31st against the run last season, and fifth-to-last in the preseason, allowing 120.2 yards per game. Not a recipe for success when dealing with the Cowboys’ massive offensive line and superior running game.