For a second year in a row, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will open the season against each other under the lights. This time, however, the drama will unfold in Dallas at AT&T Stadium aka Jerry World.
Big Blue’s success or failure this season will once again revolve around the offense. Last year, they averaged 26.8 points per game, good for sixth in the NFL. Their strong offensive output was a big reason why they managed a 9-7 record, as their defense performed at a below average level (31st in yards allowed and tied for 12th in points surrendered).
New York should once again be an elite offensive team, with weapons and big play potential at virtually every skill position.
Blocking, however, could be the unit’s one major weakness.
The offensive line was shuffled multiple times in the preseason due to injury and will be missing two starters, David Baas and David Diehl, against Dallas. Also, gone are running back Ahmad Bradshaw and tight end Martellus Bennett, who are both widely regarded as excellent blockers at their respective positions.
Their replacements, David Wilson and Brandon Myers, appear to be significantly worse in this discipline. Wilson lacks experience picking up the blitz, while Myers was the worst run-blocking tight end in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The Giants, however, face a Cowboys defense that contains a lot more question marks than answers. For starters, they are switching to a 4-3 "Tampa 2" style defense from a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
As if this adjustment wasn’t enough, they also have injuries at key positions. The biggest one that will impact this game is to defensive end Anthony Spencer. The 29-year-old is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery in late July that continues to sideline him. It is highly likely that he will be limited come Sunday night, if he plays at all.
All of this unrest belongs to a unit that did not perform well last season, allowing 25 points and 355 yards per game. Both totals ranked in the bottom half of the NFL. In addition, they lost more veteran players than they acquired, which figures to limit their depth.
Now that the stage is set let’s take a look at how the Big Blue offensive attack will fare against Dallas’ D, starting with each of the skill positions and ending with the quarterback centerpiece, Eli Manning.
Don’t worry, they’ll be a game prediction at the end for you to mull over as well.