WHEN: Sunday, 3:25 PM (CT)
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
There is really only one guarantee heading into the Week 1 division rival match up for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, and that is it will be a hard-fought battle between two teams that know each other extremely well.
In 2015, the Dallas Cowboys were able to come away with a last-second victory to open up the season, but the Giants got their revenge later in the year when former Cowboys special teams ace Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
There is no reason to believe that the 2016 season opener for the Cowboys and Giants will be any different.
Below I will attempt to explain how both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants can start their 2016 season with a victory or defeat.
Dallas Cowboys win if…
All eyes will be on two of the Dallas Cowboys rookies Sunday afternoon in Texas, and rightfully so.
There are high expectations for both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott for the start of the 2016 season. Prescott because he is taking over the starting QB position for an injured Tony Romo and Elliott because he was drafted so highly with the thought he was a perfect fit for the Cowboys offensive scheme.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to win this game, Prescott and Elliott will have to have big games and limit any kind of rookie mistakes.
As rookies, they are going to be asked to carry the load at arguably the two most important positions on the offensive side of the ball. No other players touch the ball as much as a quarterback or running back, which is the reason why they need to focus on the task at hand and not get caught up in the bright lights of the NFL.
If both Prescott and Elliott come out and perform the way we all expect them to, then the Dallas Cowboys should be able to start the 2016 season with a W in the win column.
New York Giants win if…
I think the best chance for the New York Giants to win their season opener against the Dallas Cowboys lies in their wide receiver core.
Beckham has already established himself as one of the best WRs in his short time in the NFL. Cruz was a nightmare for Cowboys defenders prior to his injury issues and if healthy could be so once again. Shepard is somewhat of an unknown, but I have a feeling he might just be the most dangerous of the three Sunday afternoon against the Cowboys.
I fully believe that if the New York Giants win this game it will be because of their wide receivers and how they can exploit the Cowboys secondary.
Dallas Cowboys lose if…
I think it would be too easy to say that the Dallas Cowboys lose this game if Dak Prescott struggles and doesn't play like he has been in the preseason. Instead, I'm putting the outcome of this game on the Cowboys defense.
We can all agree that the Cowboys defense is the weak link for this 2016 team. There are still questions about the pass rush and how they are going to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Eli Manning is known for getting rid of the ball quickly making the pass rush less of a concern.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli needs his defense to perform better than a lot of people are expecting. They don't need to be great, they just need to be the type of defense that bends and doesn't break.
If they are unable to get the Giants offense off the field in some key situations, then the Cowboys will lose their 2016 opener.
Holding the Giants to field goals instead of scoring touchdowns might be the determining factor in the outcome of the game Sunday afternoon.
New York Giants lose if…
The New York Giants spent nearly $200 million in the off-season to bring in Janoris Jenkins (CB), Olivier Vernon (DE), and Damon Harrison (DT) in hopes of improving their team on the defensive side of the ball.
Was it money well spent?
Well, I know the Giants are hoping so, but I'm not so sure.
Vernon got the better of Tyron Smith as a member of the Miami Dolphins last season, but I don't see that happening again. Vernon doesn't nearly have the same type of supporting cast along the defensive line that he had in Miami, so I will give the edge to Smith.
Harrison has the tough task of going up against Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La'el Collins the entire game and I think we can all pretty much agree that is a match up that swings in the Cowboys favor.
If the Giants overpriced additions can't win their battles, they lose. Simple as that.
Who do you think has a better chance of winning?
Let me hear your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below..