New York Giants (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYG -1/DAL +1
Over/Under Total: 46
It is hard to hide the excitement that comes with the start of the NFL season. It doesn’t matter if you are a bettor, a fantasy player or just plain, old football fan, this is the best time of year. It is even better when the opening week features a division rivalry and that is what we get with this New York Giants v. Dallas Cowboys tilt. The NFC East is wide open as usual and the winner this week gets a leg up toward earning a potential playoff spot right away. Dallas is again dealing with the loss of Tony Romo but there is some hope after 4th-round draft pick Dak Prescott impressed in the preseason. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham make for one of the best QB-WR tandems in the league and they are scheduled to have another strong year under newly minted head coach Ben McAdoo. We know a bit about the way this one might play out, giving us a little roadmap so let’s take a look at the G-Men and the ‘Boys.
The early betting had the Cowboys listed as 3.5 point favorites. That was before the Romo injury news however and that line has moved all the way to the Giants as one point favorites or even more depending on what online betting site you use. New York enters this game with a 5-2 record against the spread in the last seven in Dallas but is just 1-4 ATS in the last five opening games. The over/under total is most commonly at 46 and each of the last seven games have gone over between these two teams at AT&T Stadium.
Ben McAdoo is coaching his first game at the head level but has been with the Giants as the offensive coordinator since 2014. He held offensive positions with San Francisco and Green Bay prior to landing in New York and his offensive focus has helped Eli Manning to some of the best stats of his career. That offensive progression is scheduled to continue and folks are predicting that New York will be even better than the version that finished 2015 as the 6th best scoring offense and 7th best passing unit. The defense needs a big turnaround if they are going to win any more games as no one was worse in total yards allowed last year. The Giants gave up an unforgivable 47% third-down conversion rate and that led to a lot of tired efforts in the second half of many games last year. Cleaning up all those defensive woes will be a tall order so expect the Giant offense to continue the full-throttle pace in order to get ahead and take some pressure off the D.
Dallas was simply a mess last year. Injuries to Romo and Dez Bryant were too much to overcome and there were times when the Cowboys struggled to do anything other than go three-and-out. Ezekial Elliot was drafted to be the workhorse running back and the plan was to go back to the days when DeMarco Murray was pounding the rock. Dallas was very successful with that run-first methodology. It kept the time of possession heavily in their favor and kept their defense fresh. That plan of attack was good enough to get the Cowboys within one play of the NFC Championship game two years back and every effort is going to be made to keep the win-loss total manageable until Romo returns. Dak Prescott set about every record you could set at Mississippi State and his preseason showing has fans hopeful that this year will not be a repeat of last. Dallas has the very best offensive line in all of football so Zeke should see success on the ground and Prescott will have time to find a now healthy Bryant and the ageless Jason Witten. That sounds good on paper but we will have to see if those plans can be turned into yards, points and wins.
These teams split their meetings last year with each winning as the host. Dallas grabbed a 27-26 win with Romo throwing for 356 yards and three scores including the game winner to Witten with just seven seconds left. It was a back-and-forth affair but the Cowboys were able to hold Manning to 189 yards passing with no touchdowns on the way to the narrow win. The Giants were able to get a 27-20 win in the second meeting but needed a kickoff return touchdown and interception return score to get the W. Matt Cassel was under center for Dallas in that game with Darren McFadden the leading rusher and it was the beginning of the end for the Cowboys season. Manning struggled in that game as well, completing just 13-of-24 passes for 170 and no scores. Those turned out to be the only two instances where Manning did not throw at least one touchdown pass.
I think it is clear that the offensive talent on the Giants is superior. Dallas turned out a bottom-half defense last year and it makes you wonder how many times they can hold down Manning and Beckham. Rashad Jennings is getting older but runs against the 23rd ranked rush defense from last year so New York looks like it can move the ball on the ground as well. Zeke should see plenty of holes to run through but I think it will be pretty hard for the Cowboys to do much better than the 17.2 points per game they averaged last season. I think Dallas is in much better shape to handle the Romo loss this time around and the presence of Dez will help Prescott in his first NFL start but I don’t think that adds up to a win in this game. If the line moves a few more points, I start to like Dallas as I think they can control the ball and get an ATS win as a 3.5 point dog but I am not taking them now in what amounts to a pick-em. Dallas can’t hold down Eli for a third straight game and New York gets away with a 24-17 win.
Evergreen's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New York
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