September 8th, 8:30 EDT TV: NBC
One of the NFL’s oldest rivalries kicks off on the first Sunday Night Football of the year as the Giants head to Dallas to face the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. In a game that will immediately have implications in the AFC East race, this is one of the more anticipated games this weekend. Divisional race aside, these two teams do not like each other, and each have something to prove after missing the playoffs last season.
New York finished with an 8-8 record last season and Dallas narrowly missed the playoffs at 9-7. The Cowboys ended their season particularly badly, having a chance to make the playoffs with a win against Washington to close out the season, but could not get the job done against rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The offseason for the Cowboys brought a new contract for Tony Romo, who now has the pressure to prove that he is worth his six-year $108 million dollar extension. Romo threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season but had the lowest passer rating of his career.
Head coach Jason Garrett has also been taken off offensive play calling duties this season by owner Jerry Jones. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan will now call plays on offense. Garrett is still well regarded in the organization, but if Dallas fails to reach the postseason this year – he will almost certainly on the hot seat.
Dallas is relatively healthy offensively with Dez Bryant and a fully healthy Miles Austin ready to roll. DeMarco Murray should also get the lion’s share of the carries with Lance Dunbar being sidelined this week.
Defensively, Dallas’ normally stout front seven has a host of injuries. Defensive left end Anthony Spencer and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff are both doubtful to play Sunday. Dallas will also be without starting left cornerback Morris Claiborne.
For the Giants, most of the same faces remain from the past few years, but one notable change is the departure of workhorse back Ahmad Bradshaw. Still, quarterback Eli Manning still has plenty of weapons on offense. Both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are ready to go, and all have had a solid preseason.
David Wilson takes over the running back duties and will see a lot of carries Sunday Night with Andre Brown out for at least several weeks with a broken leg. Wilson impressed in limited action last season and could be poised for a breakout.
There haven’t been too many notable injuries for the Giants in the preseason other than Wilson’s leg injury. The team is the healthiest they have been in a number of years.
The Cowboys opened as -3 favorites at home. While that line is still available at many shops, the game has moved to -3.5 at probably half the US sites online. The total premiered at 49 and is now at 48.5 across the board.
Both of these teams come in with Super Bowl aspirations, and this primetime game means a lot to both teams from a pride perspective, in addition to starting off 1-0. The Giants have not been particularly strong in opening games and have lost their first game in the previous two seasons.
Coughlin is an excellent coach and understands the weaknesses of his opponents and how to exploit them. Dallas is vulnerable inside, so I’d expect to see plenty of running on early downs. The Giants can open it up when they need to, but overall the gameplan will be conservative.
The same could be true for the Cowboys. Callahan has traditionally run a more west coast, short passing style of offense. I personally do not see either offense being extra aggressive, especially early on.
Let’s not also forget that Monte Kiffin is now in charge of Dallas’ defense. The longtime defensive coordinator has been effective nearly everywhere he has been. Even though he has not coached in the NFL for awhile, he should immediately improve that side of the ball.
48.5 just seems too high for these two teams, which have both instituted new game plans on both offense and defense. I would not be shocked to see this one become more of a defensive struggle based on field position rather than a shootout. I think this one is way off in regards the amount of points scored.
I’m betting the Under 48.5 at Bovada.lv
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