Matchup Analysis: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Giants 19, Cowboys 26

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Giants Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Cowboys defense.

The New York Giants' offense in 2018 ran through then-rookie running back Saquon Barkley, as he tallied 2028 yards from scrimmage. Of those 2028 yards, Barkley provided 1307 yards on the ground behind a mediocre offensive line. General manager David Gettleman's desire to build an offense centered around running the football was evident once again this offseason when he brought in two new starters in the trenches. At right guard, Kevin Zeitler will open the season as the starter following an offseason trade that brought him into New York in the same deal that shipped Odell Beckham, Jr. to Cleveland which should provide a significant upgrade to the running game. At right tackle, the Giants signed Mike Remmers away from the Minnesota Vikings. Remmers has been approximately a league-average run-blocker over the course of his career, which is an upgrade for this offensive line unit that struggled last season. Barkley was an undeniably exciting and explosive runner in his rookie season. His sophomore campaign should provide more consistency behind a more formidable group of bruisers on the offensive line.

Dallas' defensive front will return almost every producer from a unit that allowed just 3.8 yards-per-carry in 2018. Opposing running backs eclipsed 100-yards rushing on only 3 occasions last season. This front-seven projects to be equally stingy in 2019, as they return every starter. Additionally, the Cowboys added depth on the defensive line in the 2019 NFL Draft with the selection of Trysten Hill in the 2nd round. At linebacker, the Cowboys enter the season with a fully-healthy unit that makes a legitimate case to be the best in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch far exceeded all expectations for his rookie year, as he finished the season 3rd in the NFL with 140 total tackles. Jaylon Smith also emerged as one of the NFL's best linebackers during the 2018 season, when his tally of 121 total tackles was good enough for 13th in the NFL. Rounding out the second level of Dallas' defense is veteran Sean Lee. When healthy, Lee has been one of the league's most impactful linebackers, but he has struggled to stay on the field in recent years. Following a full offseason of rest, Lee is expected to be operating at 100 percent when the 2019 season kicks off, which certainly does not bode well for opposing rushing attacks. Should the Dallas secondary be called upon to contribute in defending the run, they are more than capable of holding their own. Byron Jones registered more run-defense snaps than any other player on the Cowboys roster in 2018 and performed as one of the team's most-effective run stoppers. Dallas excelled at every level of the defense against the run in 2018, and they are only healthier and deeper headed into the 2019 season.

Giants Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Cowboys defense.

General manager David Gettleman made the controversial decision to select Daniel Jones with the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the team made it clear: he will be watching from the sidelines as Eli Manning starts under-center in 2019. Manning's decline as a passer has been well-documented, as he managed just 21 passing touchdowns in 2018. Manning will also enter the 2019 season without perhaps the most talented receiver he has ever played with, Odell Beckham, Jr. Manning's numbers drop significantly across the board without Beckham, Jr. on the field. Most notably, Manning throws for nearly 50 fewer yards-per-game in games without Beckham, Jr. since the start of the 2017 season. Elsewhere, Manning will primarily look towards tight end Evan Engram and wide recevier Sterling Shepard for production through the air. Engram's 9.0 yards-per-target mark from the 2018 season was the highest on the team, amongst players targeted at least 20 times. Since the beginning of Sterling Shepard's career, his involvement has spiked in games absent Odell Beckham, Jr. He will likely step in as the team's top target through the air this season, meaning his target count should be consistent and substantial. Up front, the Giants' offensive line struggled to keep Eli Manning clean in 2018, when he was sacked on a career-high 7.5% of dropbacks. Heading into the 2019 season, this area of need was addressed by bringing in Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Both players are upgrades over the players they will be starting in place of, and as Matt Bitonti has noted, this is a unit with a lot of upside in 2019 if they mesh together well.

The Cowboys' defense is filled with playmakers ready to disrupt the passing game on a weekly basis. Off the edge, Demarcus Lawrence is one of the league's most talented pass rushers, and following a massive offseason extension he's being paid like it. At linebacker, the Cowboys sport one of the league's best group of units across the board. Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Sean Lee each excel in coverage duties, in large part thanks to the exceptional athleticism they possess. In the secondary, Byron Jones has developed into one of the league's top cornerbacks. Jones plays almost exclusively on the right side of the field (the offense's left) and he does arguably as well as any player in the league. In 2018, Jones allowed completions on just 55.8 percent of passes thrown in his direction. Jones is not alone, however, as rest of Dallas' secondary also defends the pass well. Specifically, safety Xavier Woods has made a name for himself as one of the league's better coverage safeties. This defense is filled with the requisite playmakers to give opposing offenses fits through the air all season long when they're at full-strength, as they will be in week one.

Cowboys Rushing offense

Great matchup vs. the Giants defense.

The Dallas Cowboys have finally reached an agreement to make Ezekiel Elliott the highest-paid running back in the NFL, subsequently ending his holdout. Since being selected by the Cowboys with the fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Elliott has been one of the league’s most efficient runners, averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry throughout his young career. This should continue throughout the 2019 season, but in week one, Ezekiel Elliott keep an eye on reports of Elliott’s usage as NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported that he may be limited to “20 to 25 reps,”. Rookie Tony Pollard will serve as the primary option to spell Elliott after an impressive training camp. Pollard followed up an efficient collegiate career (7.1 yards-per-carry in 2018 at Memphis) with a strong first preseason in the NFL, registering 5.0 yards-per-carry against NFL competition. In 2018, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line was shakier than usual, yet they still produced a 100-yard rusher on 7 separate occasions. This season, the unit should be far more consistent as Travis Frederick is back in the fold after missing all of the 2018 season due to an autoimmune disease. Frederick, when healthy, has consistently produced at a Pro Bowl level, and FootballGuys' offensive line analyst, Matt Bitonti, expects much of the same in 2019. Frederick will battle in the trenches alongside Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, who combine for 11 Pro Bowl appearances themselves. This unit, as a whole, receives a well-earned A+ grade from Matt Bitoni, which will help ease Ezekiel Elliott back into action after missing all of training camp.

The New York Giants dealt Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions during week eight of the 2018 season. Harrison is notably one of the league's best run-stopping defensive tackles. With Harrison, the Giants allowed a 100-yard rusher in just 1 out of 7 games. Without Harrison, that number jumped up to 4 out of 9 games. Now, in 2019, the Giants will turn towards a rookie, Dexter Lawrence, to disrupt backfields. Lawrence was undeniably productive throughout his collegiate career at Clemson, but his prospects of immediately making a positive impact at the NFL level are bleak. The linebacker corps of New York's defense has typically struggled to stop the run. This unit completely lacks an established starter that has proven to have the ability to stifle the opposition's rushing attack. Lastly, in the secondary, safety Landon Collins has departed for the Washington Redskins. Collins was New York's top safety throughout 2018, especially against the run. In 2019, the Giants will attempt to fill this hole in the defense with defensive coordinator James Bettcher's shiny new toy, Jabrill Peppers. Peppers, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Odell Beckham, Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, is a dynamic defensive playmaker capable of making an impact against the run or pass. Aside from Peppers, the New York Giants lack the requisite playmakers on defense capable of competing with a dominant offensive line in the trenches.

Cowboys Passing offense

Great matchup vs. the Giants defense.

The Dallas Cowboys got off to a slow start through the air in 2018, which led to the team giving up a first-round pick in exchange for then-fourth-year wide receiver Amari Cooper. Before the acquisition of Amari Cooper, the Cowboys managed just 183 passing yards-per-game. Following the trade, Dallas' offense produced 250 yards-per-game through the air. Entering 2019, Amari Cooper is battling with a foot injury, but he is expected to be on the field alongside second-year wide receiver Michael Gallup. Gallup, a former second-round pick, has established himself as Dak Prescott's clear number-two option in this offense. Cole Beasley has packed his bags and flown up north to join the Buffalo Bills in the 2019 season, but Dallas has replaced him with veteran Randall Cobb. Cobb is not expected to be a major factor in the offense, but the veteran slot-receiver may serve as Prescott's safety-blanket in an offense lacking a top-end tight end. At the tight end position, the team has lured Jason Witten out of retirement but, as seen throughout the preseason, there is some rust to shake off. Dak Prescott bounced back in 2018 following a sophomore slump in 2017, and he is expected to continue this upward trajectory in 2019. Finally, the Cowboys' stout offensive line, receiving an A pass-blocking grade from Matt Bitonti, is likely to accel at keeping Dak Prescott clean and upright, which may be the most critical factor in Prescott's development as a passer.

In 2018, the New York Giants defense allowed the 6th-highest net yards/attempt (NY/A) tally in the entire NFL. The Giants will enter 2019 without its most productive pass rusher from last year in Olivier Vernon. Vernon was traded to Cleveland along with Odell Beckham, Jr. over the offseason. In just 11 games, Vernon led the team in sacks, with 7, and his 21 quarterback hits were more than twice as much as the team's second-leading pass rusher. In his place, this season will be Lorenzo Carter, a second-year edge-rusher with much left to prove. Throughout his rookie season, Carter was serviceable at best as a pass-rusher. At the second level of the defense, New York's linebackers are a liability in the passing game. This unit is mostly the same as last year's unit opposing offenses consistently shredded over the middle of the field. In the secondary, New York lost Landon Collins to free agency but added Jabrill Peppers via trade. This swap will likely have minimal impact on the overall performance of the secondary, as both players are similarly strong pass defenders. Alongside Peppers at safety will be Antoine Bethea. Bethea signed with New York as a free agent, and at 35-years old, he is likely nearing the end of the road as a starting NFL safety. In 2018, Bethea saw his production levels drop significantly across the board, as expected for a player nearing in on 13,000 career snaps. If Bethea regresses any further in 2019, he will surely become a liability at the back of an already weak defense. Finally, at cornerback, the Giants lack a true lockdown corner. The league once viewed Janoris Jenkins as one of the top cornerbacks in the league but, following a weak 2018 season in which he allowed a career-worst 788 yards, he is no longer feared. The New York Giants' front seven's inability to pressure the quarterback will make it exceptionally difficult to improve as a whole against the pass as the secondary attempts to integrate three new faces into the mix this season.

Saquon Barkley (FanDuel: $9200, DraftKings: $9000)

1PROJ-Dodds17740.65.7430.216.522.219.4 (H=36)22.2 (H=47)
1PROJ-Tremblay15640.46.2460.214.620.817.7 (H=31)20.8 (H=42)
1PROJ-Bloom16600.55.0410.214.319.316.8 (H=28)19.3 (H=37)

Dion Lewis (FanDuel: $5600, DraftKings: $4700)

1PROJ-Dodds7250.12.5180.15.586.8 (H=9)8 (H=15)
1PROJ-Tremblay8290.23.1210. (H=14)9.9 (H=22)
1PROJ-Bloom4130.13.0200.14.57.56 (H=7)7.5 (H=13)

Wayne Gallman (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds3120.11.0702.53.53 (H=2)3.5 (H=5)
1PROJ-Tremblay390.10.75022.72.4 (H=2)2.7 (H=3)
1PROJ-Bloom0000.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Sterling Shepard (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $5000)

1PROJ-Dodds4.9620.40008.613.511.1 (H=21)13.5 (H=36)
1PROJ-Tremblay4.8630.31308.413.210.8 (H=20)13.2 (H=34)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0510.30006.910.98.9 (H=14)10.9 (H=25)

Cody Core (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $3000)

1PROJ-Dodds0.7700000.71.41 (H=0)1.4 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Evan Engram (FanDuel: $6400, DraftKings: $4800)

1PROJ-Dodds4.9570.48.11310.6 (H=18)13 (H=35)
1PROJ-Tremblay4.0470.36.510.58.5 (H=12)10.5 (H=24)
1PROJ-Bloom5.0570. (H=18)13.1 (H=35)

Levine Toilolo (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.970. (H=1)2.2 (H=3)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.3300.30.60.4 (H=0)0.6 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Aldrick Rosas (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Chandler Catanzaro (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Graham Gano (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


New York Giants (FanDuel: $3400, DraftKings: $2300)

1PROJ-Dodds26.33692.20.80.600. (H=15)6.6 (H=22)
1PROJ-Tremblay26.253632.10.80.600. (H=17)7.1 (H=25)

Dak Prescott (FanDuel: $7500, DraftKings: $5900)

1PROJ-Dodds22322411.50.74180.220.420.420.4 (H=49)20.4 (H=62)
1PROJ-Tremblay21322321.60.85210.421.721.721.7 (H=55)21.7 (H=69)
1PROJ-Bloom19262051.30.54200.318.718.718.7 (H=42)18.7 (H=54)

Andy Dalton (FanDuel: $6500, DraftKings: $5000)

1PROJ-Dodds21352211.312100.116.816.816.8 (H=40)16.8 (H=53)
1PROJ-Tremblay21342371.21.13130.117.517.517.5 (H=43)17.5 (H=56)
1PROJ-Bloom19361991.11.23100.114.814.814.8 (H=32)14.8 (H=42)

Ezekiel Elliott (FanDuel: $9100, DraftKings: $9200)

1PROJ-Dodds14650.63.0210.112.815.814.3 (H=22)15.8 (H=25)
1PROJ-Tremblay20880.54.6350.216.521.118.8 (H=35)21.1 (H=42)
1PROJ-Bloom18890.83.0200.116.319.317.8 (H=32)19.3 (H=36)

Tony Pollard (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $5000)

1PROJ-Dodds8330.32.4190.17.6108.8 (H=16)10 (H=21)
1PROJ-Tremblay3120.10.5402.22.72.5 (H=1)2.7 (H=2)
1PROJ-Bloom7310.22.0160. (H=12)8.5 (H=16)

Amari Cooper (FanDuel: $7500, DraftKings: $7000)

1PROJ-Dodds5.1650.50009.514.612 (H=19)14.6 (H=29)
1PROJ-Tremblay4.7670.50009.714.412 (H=19)14.4 (H=28)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0550.40007.911.99.9 (H=14)11.9 (H=20)

Michael Gallup (FanDuel: $5600, DraftKings: $4300)

1PROJ-Dodds3.5450.30006.39.88.1 (H=13)9.8 (H=24)
1PROJ-Tremblay2.9420.30106.197.6 (H=11)9 (H=20)
1PROJ-Bloom4.0520.40007.611.69.6 (H=17)11.6 (H=32)

Blake Jarwin (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2700)

1PROJ-Dodds1.0120. (H=2)2.8 (H=4)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.880. (H=1)2.2 (H=2)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Blake Bell (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.770.11.321.7 (H=1)2 (H=2)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.4400.40.80.6 (H=0)0.8 (H=0)

Dalton Schultz (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2500)

1PROJ-Dodds0.8600.61.41 (H=0)1.4 (H=1)
1PROJ-Tremblay0.4400.40.80.6 (H=0)0.8 (H=0)
1PROJ-Bloom0.000000 (H=0)0 (H=0)

Greg Zuerlein (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Dallas Cowboys (FanDuel: $4700, DraftKings: $3500)

1PROJ-Dodds203412.40.90.700. (H=17)8.6 (H=23)
1PROJ-Tremblay19.253502.410.800.510.510.510.5 (H=24)10.5 (H=33)