The 2016 NFL Season is ready for kickoff! The New York Giants will begin their season on the road in Dallas, as per usual. The Giants finished the preseason with a record of 2-2, while the Cowboys ended up going 1-3.
Still, the vibe from the Cowboys’ preseason was far more exciting than that of the Giants’. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott have taken over Big D, and are ready to lead the Cowboys back to the promised land, or at least the playoffs.
You can watch the first game of the season on FOX at 4:30.
New York Giants: Offense
The Giants may have a new Head Coach in Ben McAdoo, but they still look largely the same on offense. Eli Manning is still the quarterback, Rashad Jennings is still the running back, Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz still lead the wide receivers, and the offensive line is still a mess.
Here’s what it all boils down to: Manning can easily lead the Giants to a win over the weak Dallas defense if his offensive line can keep him on his feet. The trio of Beckham Jr., rookie Sterling Shepard, and the returning Victor Cruz are too much for the Cowboys to handle, especially when you factor in Manning’s many secondary options and the dependable Giants’ rushing attack.
The offensive line is always the key for the Giants. Ever since the glory days of 2007 and 2011, the O-Line has been a weak link for Big Blue. The Cowboys don’t have an overwhelming defense, so it’ll be up to the group of Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, and Marshall Newhouse to provide the Giants with a “W”.
Dallas Cowboys: Offense
On the other hand, the Dallas Cowboys have undergone a little bit of change on the offensive side. Injuries to starting and backup quarterbacks Tony Romo and Kellen Moore have the Cowboys starting rookie Dak Prescott for the foreseeable future. Prescott is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who can beat teams in a multitude of ways, so the Giants will have their hands full with him.
Still, the Cowboys remain a run-first offense. The drafting of Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick has many Cowboys fans excited. Elliott can do it all: he can run for both power and speed, and has the ability to break the opposition’s ankles with a well-timed juke.
But the reason for Elliott’s projected success is the strength of the Cowboys’ offensive line. The Cowboys spent numerous draft picks on the offensive line, and the payoff has been huge. The Cowboys have the NFL’s best offensive line, which creates holes for Elliott and keeps Prescott on his feet for as long as he needs.
New York Giants: Defense
While the Giants stayed the same on offense, their defense has seen a tremendous facelift. General Manager Jerry Reese spent over $200 million on defensive standouts like DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, and CB Janoris Jenkins, while also drafting CB Eli Apple and safety Darian Thompson.
Of course, defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Hankins, linebackers Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard, and defensive backs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Landon Collins are all back and ready to turn the Giants defense from the worst in the league to one of the NFL’s best.
The Giants have a lot riding on their defense this year. They have tried everything to get the defense back up to snuff, from signing big-name free agents to drafting to hiring new defensive coordinators. The best way to prove that the Giants defense can be dominant once again would be to go out in Week 1 against the Cowboys and put up a solid effort.
Dallas Cowboys: Defense
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had a truly effective defense for quite some time now, but losing 3 starters to suspensions for the start of the 2016 NFL season certainly will not help. With defensive ends Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence, as well as middle linebacker Rolando McClain, suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the Cowboys will be forced to give key snaps to undrafted rookies and career backups.
The defensive line for the Cowboys struggles to put pressure on opposing QBs, the linebackers cannot stay healthy, and the secondary runs hot and cold. Needless to say, the Giants have an opportunity to take advantage of a less-than-stellar defense here. The Cowboys’ off-the-field stupidity could really help the Giants out in Week 1.
New York Giants: Special Teams
The Cowboys are not alone in having key players suspended either. For the Giants, reliable kicker Josh Brown will miss Sunday’s game after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy with a domestic violence arrest. Veteran Randy Bullock will kick in his place for at least one week.
Punter Brad Wing and snapper Zak DeOssie are back and are among the league’s best at their positions. The Giants also have a number of dangerous return men with former Cowboy Dwayne Harris the main man for the job; he even scored a kick return TD against his old team last year.
Dallas Cowboys: Special Teams
For years, the Cowboys have had very strong special teams. Kicker Dan Bailey is among the most accurate kickers in NFL history, punter Chris Jones gets good hang time on his kicks, and L.P. Ladoucer is entering his 13th season as snapper for the Cowboys.
Return man Lucky Whitehead is a threat to go the distance on kicks and punts as well.
The Giants never beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Opening Day, but I have reason to believe that the times have changed for the 2016 season. The combination of injuries, suspensions, and rookies have me a bit skeptical about the Cowboys’ chances in 2016, while the Giants’ effective offseason and remarkable health (not a single player is injured), has Giants fans amped for kickoff.
It’ll be a close, hard-fought game, but I think that the Giants will come out on top and earn a much-needed win to begin the 2016 season.