The Giants are set to open their 2016 season in the same place they have twice in the past three seasons: Dallas.
The last two season openers against the Cowboys did not go the Giants’ way, but there’s no reason to think that trend must continue Sunday.
Here are three keys to the matchup between the Giants and Cowboys, last season’s third- and fourth-place finishers in the NFC East.
Unlike past years, Tony Romo won’t be starting at quarterback for the Cowboys. While he rests his ailing back, rookie Dak Prescott will fill in.
The Giants’ new-look defense has to be licking its collective chops in anticipation of facing the fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State. Big Blue must be leery of Prescott’s mobility, but on paper this looks like a good opportunity for high-priced defensive end Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul in Week 1.
Former Jets standout defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison will oppose a different rookie — one more highly touted — in running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Dallas’ first-round pick is the preseason favorite to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, but Harrison was signed away from Gang Green to shut down running backs. It’s not all on Harrison to keep Elliott in check, but the more he can keep the rookie controlled between the tackles, the better off the Giants will be.
The Eli in ‘elite’
Eli Manning, even at 35, undoubtedly remains one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. He hasn’t always looked that way in Dallas, though.
In last year’s opening loss, Manning was limited to 193 yards through the air and failed to pass for a score. In Week 1 of 2013 against the Cowboys, the two-time Super Bowl winner tallied 450 yards and four touchdowns but was doomed by three interceptions in a close game. He needs to buck the trend Sunday.