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Cowboys at Giants: Writer predictions for Sunday Night Football kickoff

Can the Cowboys start 1-0 for the first time since 2019?

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

It’s finally here: football is back, and so is the age-old tradition of the Cowboys starting their season by playing the Giants. This one is on Sunday Night Football, giving everyone a front row seat for the debut of Mike McCarthy calling plays for Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys haven’t started their season against the Giants since 2019. Coincidentally, that was the last time the team started 1-0, meaning McCarthy has yet to win in Week 1 with the Cowboys. As a 3.5 point favorite, McCarthy seems to be in a good spot to change that, while Prescott is looking for his 11th consecutive win over this franchise. Do our writers feel confident about that? Let’s find out!

When New York has the ball

Get in Daniel Jones’ face

Daniel Jones enjoyed a career year last season, and much of it came from his coaches’ emphasis on scheming up quick throws to keep Jones free of pressure. When Jones threw from a clean pocket, he was getting the ball out in 2.57 seconds, which would’ve placed third in the league last year for fastest time to throw. These kinds of throws also accounted for two thirds of Jones’ passing yards and touchdowns on the year.

However, when Jones was pressured, he had a tendency to hold onto the ball far too long, averaging 3.56 seconds. On these plays, Jones’ completion rate dropped from 73.6% to 55.6% and his turnover-worthy play rate jumped from 2.6% to 3.8%. Jones played well within the scheme, but pressure turned him back into a pumpkin all too often. Against the Cowboys, who led the league in pressure rate and pass rush win rate last year, Jones is likely to be under duress from the opening snap. If he can’t get clean pockets to throw from, it’ll be a long night for Jones and the Giants.

When Dallas has the ball

Control the line of scrimmage

The Cowboys decided to let go of their offensive line coach and longtime McCarthy confidant Joe Philbin and replace him with Mike Solari, who has introduced changes in both the run and pass blocking schemes. Sunday night will be the first time we see this scheme so the offensive line will be under a microscope in this game.

The Giants’ defense blitzes a lot, leading the league in blitz rate last year. It yielded a really effective pass rush, but came at the expense of a run defense that finished dead last in run defense DVOA. Dak Prescott has historically been money against the blitz, but if the Cowboys offensive line can help him out with their blitz protections while also clearing holes in the run game, then Dallas should be able to do whatever they want on offense.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle:

I know there is a bit of existential angst about Tyler Smith’s health, but even if he doesn’t go, there is still a clear talent advantage for the Cowboys. This is a game where it looks like Dallas would have to beat themselves. However, you cannot rule that out. Mike McCarthy is going to be running his Texas Coast attack for the first time with the starters, and we still have to see how that goes.

Which is not to say I am worried. I have faith in Dak, and he has some much better weapons in his arsenal this year than he did in 2022. I think the new wrinkles on offense were tailored specifically to make his life easier. And the Dallas D is still loaded.

I think it will be a fairly easy win for the Cowboys, 31-17.

Tony Catalina:

Week 1 is finally upon us. After a long offseason the Cowboys are set to kickoff the 2023 season and it’ll be a test right out of the gate. I’m less concerned about the history and how dominant the Cowboys have been over the last few years because it’s a new year and the Giants are going to be a good team worthy of respecting in 2023.

Why I’m confident in Dallas has nothing to do with past performances and everything to do with the team they have built in the here and now. This might be the most complete team we’ve seen the Cowboys trot out in over a decade. With that in mind, no matter the bumps and bruises they are dealing with, and the fact the Giants are an improved football team - the Cowboys are as well and that will shine through on Sunday night.

Give the Cowboys 24-20 to start the season 1-0.

Matt Holleran:

It feels so good to finally have a game to predict again. This Sunday Night Football matchup between the Cowboys and Giants figures to be a good one. With injury issues, I think we may see Dallas’ offense get out of the gates a little slow. I think the first half of this game ends up being a defensive battle as the rain and some early season rust cause both offenses to sputter a bit.

In the second half, I see the Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb connection being the difference maker as the Giants can’t slow down #88. Lamb makes some big plays and eventually scores a touchdown that ends up being the game winner. Dallas starts the year 1-0.

Give me the Cowboys, 23-17.

Brandon Loree:

Mike McCarthy has never won the first game of the season as the head coach in Dallas. It’s a storyline that’s been floating around a lot this week. It all changes on Sunday night because history tends to repeat itself.

The last time McCarthy played an NFC East opponent on the road to start a season was in 2010 against the Philadelphia Eagles, where the Packers won 27-20. I predict the Cowboys will win repeat and thus begin the course to repeat the same history as McCarthy did in 2010—winning the Super Bowl.

Cowboys win 27-20.

Matthew Lenix:

The Dallas Cowboys have won 11 of their last 12 meetings against the New York Giants. However, with a strong defense and added weapons offensively, the Giants have a great shot to pull off an upset, especially with it being Week 1. When it’s all said and done, it won’t be enough.

With All-Pro Micah Parsons leading a top-five level defense, and an offense with more speed thanks to Brandin Cooks and Duece Vaughn, the Cowboys start the season 1-0 with a 31-17 win.

Mike Poland:

The Cowboys defense led the league last year in turnovers created with 33, while the Giants offense gave away the ball second-most in the league. The first touchdown the Cowboys score will come from the Cowboys defense, DeMarcus Lawrence always plays hard and performs well against the Giants. This inexperienced Giants secondary has its hands full this weekend with the Cowboys receiving corps. Expect a big day from both CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks.

The Cowboys win this one on the road 31-17.

Brian Martin:

Kicking off the 2023 season against divisional opponent is no easy task to overcome for the Cowboys, especially considering many of their starters didn’t play at all in preseason. But, Dallas is still the more talented team and should relatively easily handle the Giants in Week 1. I’m predicting the difference in this matchup will be Dallas’ talented WR trio (Lamb, Cooks, Gallup). With a Giants secondary expected to start two rookies, the Cowboys aerial attack should be able to expose that weakness to help secure the “W”.

Cowboys 24, Giants 17.

RJ Ochoa:

This really is not that complicated. Even if Tyler Smith is held out, the Dallas Cowboys are a much better football team than the New York Giants are. I recognize that we all are feeling emotional about the Cowboys for obvious reasons, but objectively this is a group that should be favored by three points in a road contest like this. Oh hey, they are. Wink Martindale seems ready to challenge Dak Prescott with blitzes and while they may be exotic, that would be a horrible mistake for New York.

Give me the Cowboys to win and cover and get to 1-0 overall as well as within the NFC East.

David Howman:

Starting the season on the road is never easy, but the Cowboys are at least familiar with Meadowlands Stadium. More than that, Dak Prescott is familiar with tearing up this Giants team regardless of where the game is played, and I see little reason to believe that won’t continue into 2023 regardless of who starts on the offensive line.

Mike McCarthy’s debut as the Cowboys playcaller should go off without a hitch, quite literally, while Micah Parsons and this defense shouldn't have much of an issue getting acquainted with Daniel Jones. There will be some hiccups along the way, as is expected in Week 1, but I feel very confident in this team right now.

Cowboys win, 38-17.

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