Another season is set to begin this week with the New York Giants coming to town for a divisional clash with the defending NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys. As our very own, Dawn Macelli, has pointed out this rivalry is a historic slobberknocker as the first ever ended in a tie.
“It may not have been much for the Cowboys, but the tie, their second of the season, was fatal for the Giants. It cost them the Eastern Division crown. Although they would win the division in each of the next three seasons, Dallas had prevented them from doing so in 1960.”
The latest comments from Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo this week are interesting ahead of their week one matchup. First there was McAdoo telling the media that he’s not worried about the Cowboys’ running game:
“All backs run the same when there’s nowhere to run,” McAdoo said Monday.
Then, of course, there was this little shot he took at the Cowboys’ secondary, who will be playing some new faces on Sunday:
Ben McAdoo quips that the Cowboys' secondary looks different in 2017. "If you know who's playing corner for them, you can let me know."— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 6, 2017
As it stands, the Giants can say whatever they want as they were the one team the Cowboys couldn’t get past last season (Eagles get no points for Week 17). By all means, they have the confidence that their defense is the one unit that can keep the vaunted Cowboys offense in check. Despite scoring over 26 points per game last season, the Giants held the Cowboys to 26 points in two games.
The Giants swept the Cowboys last season so they don’t feel like their under pressure to beat them a third time. It’s the Cowboys who need to figure out this Giants’ defense and prove that they can prevail. Most importantly, Dak Prescott who had his two worst performances against New York (though one was his first start), needs to play better than his one touchdown to two interceptions ratio would suggest. New York may have had his number in 2016 but don’t assume that will be the case this season.
So, these wisecracks by the head coach aren’t much more than just words. There is already plenty of emotion, motivation, and aggression going into this week one game. For starters, Ezekiel Elliott will be playing in this game while he and the NFL tangle in an ongoing legal matter. The last time Elliott played the Giants, he ran for 107 yards at 4.5 yards per attempt. Far better than his first outing where he gained only 51 yards. You can bet that Elliott is more than motivated for this contest.
It seems as though the Giants are bringing back the element of trash talk to this rivalry but that’s nothing new. They may feel that they are superior to the Cowboys but despite their sweeping last season, it was Dallas who added another division title. As their 13-3 season of last year proved to be superior to the 11-5 finish for McAdoo’s bunch.
As good as their defense was in 2016, it didn’t stop the Packers from whipping their New York tail 38-13. The Cowboys also fell victim to Green Bays’ surge into the playoffs by a field goal, 34-31.
Creating offense was a problem for Ben McAdoo last season. Though he had Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and other weapons, they struggled offensively. The Giants were 25th in yards per game, 26th in points per game (19.4), and had the third-most offensive drives stalled behind the Rams and 49ers.
New York has an issue that the Cowboys do not, they have perhaps one of the NFL’s poorest offensive lines. Manning was rewarded with Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram this offseason. What he really needs is for someone besides Ereck Flowers to his left and Bobby Hart to his right where they combined for 105 pressures surrendered. Their run game is almost non-existent where they were 29th in the league in 2016.
Manning can get the ball out quickly and he’s tough as ever but his protection is poor and it contributed to his awful 51.8 QBR (27th) for 2016. The Giants have the receiving corps to compete with anyone but they were pretty loaded last season too. New York never reached 30 points in a single game whereas the Cowboys’ offense did that six times. The Giants were 22nd in red zone scoring at 51.11%, Dallas was fifth at 65.57%. New York’s defense is truly something else but eventually you need an offense that can match teams like the Falcons and Packers.
For this matchup, it’s always pretty tightly contested as the Giants edged Dallas by four total points last season. Ben McAdoo has thrown some shade at the Cowboys ahead of this game but it served more as entertainment for the fans. The Cowboys have been looking forward to this game since the clock went to all zeroes in December of last year.
Whether Ben McAdoo knows the names of the cornerbacks that play for the Cowboys is irrelevant. Lets just hope that when Eli Manning throws an interception, which will be his 26th against the Cowboys, that the broadcast folks know how to pronounce the names. Hopefully, it’ll be something easy like Orlando Scandrick or Nolan Carroll. You would hate for Al Michaels to struggle with Chidobe Awuzie or Bene Benwikere.