When the Dallas Cowboys kickoff today against the New York Giants they'll look to continue their recent dominance over their NFC East rival. The Cowboys have won four games in a row over the last two years and this is arguably the best team they've brought into the matchup.
The New York Giants are a much different team with Olivier Vernon and Odell Beckham traded to the Cleveland Browns over the offseason. Though the Giants are in the middle of a retooling, you can never completely count out an NFC East rival in one of these games.
In this week one matchup, however, the path to victory is fairly simple for the Dallas Cowboys.
Hot Start for Kellen Moore and the Offense
The biggest change that happened from the 2018 Dallas Cowboys to the team that they'll take into Sunday's matchup with the Giants is the promotion of Kellen Moore from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. There's been lots of speculation about what Kellen Moore's offense is going to look like given he's a first-time coordinator and play-caller at any level.
It's expected that Moore is going to bring a fresh approach to an offense that was top five in the NFL back in 2016 but had grown stale and predictable over the last couple of years. While all of that is good, it's going to be important for Moore, Dak Prescott, and the offense to get off to a good start in Sunday's game.
For Moore in particular, he'll need to get into a rhythm quickly against the Giants in executing his game plan in-game. The offense needs to have a confidence-building game in week one to hopefully propel toward a great season on that side of the football and it starts with the coordinator creating and calling a good gameplan and the players executing it.
The New York Giants are a team they shouldn't allow to hang around. They have some talent, but not enough to hang with the Dallas Cowboys for four quarters.
Slowing Saquon Barkley
By far, the most dangerous player the New York Giants will trot out in week one is Running Back Saquon Barkley. In 2018, Barkley had more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and caught 91 passes.
In the Dallas Cowboys first meeting with the Giants, they largely held the rookie running back in check. Barkley did most of his damage in the passing game catching 14 of 16 targets for 80 yards. The Cowboys defense kept him out of the end zone and held him to 28 yards rushing on 11 carries.
In the week 17 matchup, the Cowboys defense allowed Barkley to run for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and catch four passes for 33 yards.
It's going to take a total team effort to corral Saquon Barkley in both the run and pass game. He's an elusive and powerful runner that will be difficult to tackle one-on-one in space. The Cowboys linebacker trio of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee will have to be at their best flowing to the football and the Cowboys will need to put on a clinic in team tackling.
The Dallas Cowboys defense is talented enough to keep the New York Giants from scoring a lot of points today, but if they aren't able to contain Saquon Barkley in the run and pass game, it will open things up for Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. The Cowboys can't allow the Giants to get any momentum or for Eli Manning to get comfortable and that all starts with controlling Saquon Barkley
If they can slow him down a bit, it will keep the passing game in more third and long situations, which strongly favors the Dallas Cowboys secondary and pass rush.
This is a team that rallies to the football very well and has pretty good tackling cornerbacks. If they can prevent Barkley from having any big plays in the run or pass game, it should bode well for their chances to win the game. After allowing more than 200 yards rushing on the ground to the Los Angeles Rams in the division game, the defense should come into this game feeling like they have a lot to prove to themselves and to the NFL.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
This is a game that the Dallas Cowboys should win and win fairly handily. They're the more talented team on both sides of the football. That said, the Cowboys need to execute on both sides of the ball and these NFC East games are generally closer than they should be.
If the Cowboys offense can get off to a fast start it will be difficult for the Giants to keep up this afternoon, especially if the Cowboys can reasonably limit Saquon Barkley's impact.