New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys Pick ATS
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 8, 2019 at 4:25PM EDT
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Point Spread: NYG +7/DAL -7 (Bookmaker)
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The New York Giants come into AT&T Stadium to face the Dallas Cowboys in week one action from the NFC East. Both teams face a lot of questions. It’s a battle between the first-place team of last season in the Cowboys and the last-place Giants. But offseason brings a lot of changes—some positive and some negative. And you just never know how things are going to shake out. What will the Cowboys look like without their top weapon on offense? And the Giants are also without their top weapon from last season. Have they done anything to change their fate appreciably? Who is in a better position to cover the spread in week one?
The Elliott Factor
As of press time, Ezekiel Elliott continues his holdout with the Cowboys. No one knows what the future holds. I suppose he could sign, be in good shape, and still be able to jump in there and contribute. The more likely scenario is that he’ll either continue to hold out or not be ready to be the Elliott we all know. Not that this makes the Cowboys offense a bad one, but it’s a loss they can ill afford to absorb. But having a back like Elliott is a benefit that plays out more over time. In a one-game window, it might not be that critical—or at least not what some are making it out to be.
The Cowboys have some talent backing him up with Tony Pollard and Mike Weber. But defenses usually pay a lot of respect to Elliott, which helps open up the passing game. Now, Dallas has to cover a big number at home without their top weapon, and it makes them certainly less-appealing in this role. But I’d hesitate to say their offense won’t still be good after spending an entire camp without Elliott and getting at least a bit accustomed to not having him in the backfield. There is always a lot on offense that the Cowboys should be thankful for. For what it’s worth, the Giants did reasonably well against Dallas last season, losing 20-13 on the road with Elliott playing and later losing to Dallas in the previous game of the season, 36-35, with Elliott not playing.
Focusing on What Dallas Has Now
Giving hope to the Dallas offense is that offensive line, which should reclaim its status as one of the best in the conference, if not the best. Center Travis Frederick returns from injury, and LT Tyron Smith is entering the season healthy. An intact Dallas offensive line makes things a lot easier and increases the prospects of other backs besides Elliott. It also gives Dak Prescott time to operate and work with might be his best aerial crew since he’s been the Cowboys quarterback. Amari Cooper had some huge games when he came to Dallas over from Oakland. I also look for Michael Gallup to take a big step forward this season. They also added Randall Cobb as another weapon for Prescott and will once again have the services of returning erstwhile tight end Jason Witten. Maybe that’s enough additions to cushion the prospects of a lengthy Elliott holdout.
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Which Defense Will be Ready?
There are still a lot of Dallas weapons to wield on a young and unproven Giants’ defense. Linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin, along with DT Dalvin Tomlinson, CB Janoris Jenkins, and S Antoine Bethea are proven, vets. But a lot of responsibility falls into the hands of youth with DeAndre Baker and Jabrill Peppers rounding out the secondary, with linebackers Tae Davis and Lorenzo Carter, and rookie lineman Dexter Lawrence and young BJ Hill up-front. I look for coordinator James Bettcher to get better results, and the New York “D” should be fast. Still, asking for all these pieces to line up well could be asking for a lot, and this revamped “D” might not be in the best spot to hit the ground running. But you never know…
I think we saw a lot of good things lining up for the Dallas defense last season. Demarcus Lawrence should be ready to resume his pass-rushing presence, which will be even better when Robert Quinn joins the fray from suspension. The middle is a strength now with Jaylon Smith and blossoming Leighton Vander Esch. Sean Lee is healthy and can still make a difference. And with corners Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, along with safeties Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods, the secondary is promising and in good hands.
The State of the Giants’ Offense
Keeping in mind the upward-trending Dallas defense, what can the Giants throw at them to steer this one in their favor or to at least take a run at this point spread? Eli Manning is back, and his viability is questioned for a good reason at this point, especially now that he lost his best aerial weapon. They won’t have a ton to throw at a talented Dallas pass-defense, with Sterling Shepard the go-to-receiver and Golden Tate having been suspended. Beyond Shepard, the pickings are pretty slim. And Manning has to work this all out operating behind a rough offensive line that didn’t do what it was supposed to last season. The acquisition of Kevin Zeitler from the Beckham, Jr. trade could pay off, but Nate Solder didn’t deliver last season, and the addition of RT Mike Remmers doesn’t elicit promise. On the one hand, they’re not very good, though the line at least allowed rookie Saquon Barkley to announce his arrival last season and it was huge. In the first game against Dallas, he caught 14 balls, before rushing for over 100 in the second game, showing he matches up well with this defense. Will it be enough?
Lay the Points on the Cowboys
I like their defense and how it matches up with the depreciated Giants’ offense. New York will need more than just Saquon Barkley to keep this competitive. Their line isn’t good, Manning is old with minimal viable targets, and there is a lot of youth on defense that won’t all resonate perfectly. Plus, they’re already missing key pieces. The absence of Elliott won’t help Dallas, but having hungry backs in there behind this line hungry to make their mark could also have some upside, as well. I see the Cowboys getting through week one with a conclusive home-win.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Dallas Cowboys minus 7 points.