New York Giants (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: September 13th, 8:35 PM E
Where: AT&T Stadium
by Jeff Hochman, Professional Handicapper, jhsportsline.com
Point Spread: NYG +6/ DALL -6
Over/Under Total: 51.5
Bet your Giants/Cowboys pick at an online sportsbook where you can bet on games at -105 odds instead of the more expensive -110! Save money with ever bet at 5Dimes.
The opening Sunday Night Game of the Week will feature a key NFC East division matchup in prime time on NBC. For all intense and purposes, the Cowboys shocked the world with their 12-4 record last season. Many experts (including myself) pegged this team for 8 wins or less. The defense improved thanks to a highly-productive running game that saw DeMurray Murray lead the league in rushing with a franchise-record 1,845 yards. Consequently, the Cowboys’ defense were on the field a lot less than in year’s past. The Cowboys captured its first division crown in five years. The New York Giants have suffered through back-to-back losing seasons. Tom Coughlin and the Giants normally bounce back after two consecutive losing campaigns. The G-Men have won nine games or more the last four back-to-back losing seasons.
While the Cowboys still have Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and perhaps the best offensive line in the league, they will miss Murray’s production. What they won’t miss is his tendency to fumble. Murray coughed up the ball in the Cowboys first four games last season. It was a costly turnover in the Cowboys Week 1 loss at home against the 49ers. The Cowboys are hoping that Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar can replace Murray’s production. I was skeptical until the Cowboys traded for former second round pick Christine Michael who served as Marshawn Lynch’s backup. Don’t expect see Michael in the Cowboys’ backfield until Week two. He’s very talented and might end up being the Cowboys leading rusher this season.
The Giants have a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. You might remember Spagnolo was the defensive coordinator when the Giants defeated the Patriots in 2008 (Super Bowl XLII). He should help the Giants front seven improve at stopping the run this season after the Giants ranked 28th against the run last year. The Giants ranked 6th in sacks with 47 in 16 games. Jason Pierre-Paul had 12.5 sacks so if can’t return and play at a high level, the Giants might struggle against the pass. The Cowboys recorded just 28 sacks and that number is sure to improve this season. It may take some time as the Cowboys will be without stud pass rusher Greg Hardy and middle linebacker Rolando McClain. Both players are suspended for the first four games this season. Dallas is happy to have the services of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee back from injury to go along with emerging stud DE Demarcus Lawrence. The secondary took a hit when Orlando Scandrick tore his ACL and MCL in training camp. The Cowboys best cover corner is done for the season. Dallas allowed some big passing plays last year, but did a great job in defending the red-zone. They will need to be ranked in the Top 10 in defending the red-zone once again this season, or Dallas might take a step back from 12 wins to nine or 10.
I would expect the Giants to spread the Cowboys out and have Eli Manning go to work on the Cowboys’ nickel and dime packages. Odell Beckham Jr. will command a double team otherwise he will torch one-on-one coverage. In just 12 games, Beckham had 91 receptions, 1,305 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Not to mention that highlight real touchdown catch against these Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys are going to try and run the ball early, and if that’s doesn’t work expect the Cowboys to spread the Giants out. New York is very thin in the secondary. Most notably, the Giants lost two safeties for the season, Bennett Jackson with a torn ACL and Justin Currie with a fractured ankle. Brandon Meriweather and Jeromy Miles are two veteran safeties that should help this team going forward. Any additional injuries to the Giants secondary would not be good.
Both teams looked awful in the preseason, but that’s nothing new for the Cowboys. Head Coach Jason Garrett hates the preseason and is more interested in evaluating his younger players. The Cowboys hardly played their first team offense and defense this preseason. In fact, no team played their projected starters less minutes than Dallas this preseason. Timing could be a real factor early for Dallas.
The Cowboys have swept the season series for two straight years while going 3-1 ATS. In the last matchup, the Giants lost 31-28 as 4-point home dogs despite outgaining Dallas 417-385 last November. The Giants outgained their final six opponents 2,454-1,985, but went just 3-3 SU and ended the year at 6-10.
Jeff’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: New York Giants +6
The Giants should have extra motivation from getting swept in two straight seasons by Dallas. Division underdogs normally do very well in Week one. The Cowboys starters played very little in the preseason. Dallas gets a lot of attention for having an excellent offensive line and they do. You might be surprised to see that Dallas is much better at run-blocking than pass-protection. The Cowboys were ranked 16th in sacks allowed last season and the starting offensive line hardly played together in the preseason. The Underdog in Dallas Cowboy games are cashing nearly 70% over the last four seasons combined. I don’t see the Cowboys defense being able to stop the Giants from scoring enough to cover this game. Should be a tight one. Take the Giants in this overlay.
Additional NFL Football Betting Previews