Football is back baby! The Dallas Cowboys hit the road in Week 1 to take on the division rival New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey at MetLife Stadium. This Sunday Night Football matchup will feature two teams that made the playoffs last season, the 12-5 Cowboys and the 9-7-1 Giants. As a rivalry matches go, this one is shaping up to be a slobber-knocker.
As fate would have it, the last time the Dallas Cowboys were victorious in the season opener was back in 2019 against the New York Giants, which just so happened to be Jason Garrett’s last season with the organization. Since Mike McCarthy has taken over as head coach, Dallas is 0-3 in the season opener, but are hoping to turn things around in this Week 1 matchup with the Giants.
As division rivals, these are two teams that know each other extremely well. While the Cowboys are favored in this matchup, they can’t overlook a Giants team that has improved under their second-year head coach Brian Daboll.
Strangely enough, there is still a bit of mystery surrounding this 2023 Cowboys team. We unfortunately didn’t see many, if any, of their starters play in preseason. Defensively not much has really changed, so we kind of know what to expect from one of the best units in the league from a season ago. Offensively, the unknown about how the new look offense will perform under Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer is a bit nerve-racking.
Despite the nerves, we’re all forever hopeful the Dallas Cowboys will be able to hit the ground running in Week 1 and completely dominate a less talented Giants team. To do that, they will need to fire on all cylinders and be as mistake free as possible. That, of course, is easier said than done, which is why there are three things in particular we want to see from America’s Team Sunday night. Let’s take a look.
One the Dallas Cowboys top priorities in the offseason was to become more explosive on the offensive side of the ball. The release of Ezekiel Elliott and promotion of Tony Pollard is an example of this as well as the trade they pulled off with the Houston Texans to add wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the mix in the passing game. These two moves alone should make Dallas' offense more explosive, but there are other things to look for as well.
A healthy Michael Gallup, a new and improved Jalen Tolbert, and more offensive touches for last season's Pro Bowl return man KaVonte Turpin should have fans excited about how lethal Dallas' offense can be in 2023. Even getting younger at tight end with Jake Ferguson and at backup running back should have fans salivating. Add all of it up, it certainly looks as if the Cowboys succeeded in becoming more explosive. Hopefully it shows up on the field in Week 1.
Micah Parsons and Company
While we are all probably looking forward to seeing what the new look offense will look like under Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer, and how explosive they'll end up being, all eyes will be focused in on how Micah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys defense looks in the season opener against the Giants. This was a unit that was one of the best last year and is expected to be even better with Dan Quinn back and the addition of Stephon Gilmore.
Defensive MVP watch for Micah Parsons will no doubt have all eyes on No. 11 Sunday night, but there will be a lot of things going on around him worth monitoring as well. From the defensive front to the back end of the secondary this may be the best defensive unit Dallas has had in years. Both the run and pass defense is expected to be even better in 2023 and that should be on full display against an improved Giants offense in the season opener.
Over the years, the Dallas Cowboys have had somewhat of a problem with self-discipline. Too many times games have gotten away from them or were closer than they should have been due to self-inflicted wounds. Whether it be from penalties that could have been avoided or boneheaded mistakes, this is definitely an area the coaching staff would love to have improved upon from last season.
Against the Giants, we will more than likely see some of these self-discipline issues arise throughout the ball game. Since the majority of the Cowboys starters sat out the preseason, they were unable to knock off some of the rust that players seem to accumulate during the offseason. Hopefully though, that offseason rust they've accumulated is minimal and they are able to focus on the task at hand and do their job effectively down after down.