New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys -6
Arlington High: | Dome
Sunday 8:30Pm (ET) | Get Tickets
Spread: Cowboys -6.0 | O/U 51.5
Sunday Night Football on NBC kicks off the 2015 NFL season with arguably the most exciting matchup of the week. The Dallas Cowboys play host to their divisional rival, the New York Giants, in what looks to be an exciting track meet affair with many big play fantasy threats to keep people on the edge of their seats.
2014 Meeting Recap: Cowboys Sweep Series
These two teams met in weeks 7 & 12, with the Cowboys as the victor in each game. In the first meeting, Dallas was able to produce a consistent offensive attack, scoring in all four quarters of the game; they went on to defeat the Giants by a score of 31-21. The second matchup -which was aired on NBC’s Sunday Night Football- would consist of a much closer game that wasn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter. It was a shootout that ended with the Cowboys getting the last laugh from a late game winning touchdown catch by Dez Bryant to seal the deal. These two teams have both undergone some changes this offseason, and will look to start the season off on the right note with a week 1 victory.
New York Giants
For the second consecutive year the New York Giants finished with a sub .500 win percentage, posting a 6-10 record. Throughout the 2014 season the Giants endured highs and lows that showed great glimpses of the future, but then would flash signs of regress and cause for concern. Eli Manning was one of the more encouraging sights to see for the Giants, as he tossed 30 touchdowns to his 14 interceptions and surpassed the 4,000-yard mark for the fourth time in his career. One reason Manning was able to have so much success was the emergence of rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Having to miss his first four games due to a torn left hamstring would seem as if it would hinder his ability to shine, but the injury did not cause him any setbacks as he went on to catch 91 passes for 1,305 and 12 touchdowns. While their offense did not show too much cause for concern, the defense did. They ranked 29th in total defense and 30th against the run, allowing 2,162 total rushing yards. This past offseason was explosive for the Giants as their prized defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul lost several fingers in an apparent fireworks accident; however, in more uplifting news, the team was able to draft talented defensive players like Landon Collins from the University of Alabama to replace Antrel Rolle who was lost in free agency. The team also drafted Owamagbe Odighizuwa to add depth to the defensive line. Only time will tell if the New York Giants can return to their playoff form, and their first opportunity is this Sunday night.
The Dallas Cowboys were one of the surprise teams of the NFL in 2014, as they won the NFC West division for the first time since 2009. Upon winning the divisional crown, they were knocked out of the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers in a thrilling and controversial divisional round matchup. The Cowboys had some outstanding talent surface on both sides of the football, and it was these players that propelled the Cowboys to the position they were in last year; those who are still on the team will help to bolster up another successful season. The emergence of running back DeMarco Murray was one of the main reasons the Cowboys were able to accomplish what they did in 2014. Murray rushed for a league high 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, this past offseason Murray signed a contract to join the Philadelphia Eagles roster, and now there is a void to fill at running back in Dallas. To counter the loss of Murray, the team signed free agent running back and former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden to split carries with Joseph Randle, who served as Murray’s back up for several seasons.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant was able to contribute in huge ways for the Cowboys in 2014 by gaining 1,320 yards and an NFL leading 16 touchdowns. Tight end Jason Witten was another bright spot as he was able to haul in over 60 catches for the 11th season in a row and 703 yards, finding the end-zone 5 times. With a new look backfield and returning talent to throw the ball to, quarterback Tony Romo will be looking to improve upon an amazing season where he passed for 3,705 yards, 34 touchdowns, and only 9 interceptions. On the defensive side of the ball they finished at 8th in stopping the run, but ranked 26th against the pass. While the team is excited to revitalize Rolando McClain and ease Sean Lee back into star form, the passing defense will need some work. They will face an excellent test week one as they host a passing attack that features Odell Beckham Jr. and his compliment on the other side of the ball, Victor Cruz.
With questions still looming for the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary, my fantasy stud for this game is Odell Beckham Jr. Let’s face the facts: according to team rankings the Cowboys’ secondary has now ranked in the latter half of NFL pass defenses since the 2009 season. Not only has the secondary shown for many years now they need some work, but OBJ himself has done some work on the Cowboys. In their first meeting last season, OBJ only had 4 catches on 6 targets for 34 yards; however, he found the end zone twice. In their second matchup, OBJ single handedly demolished the Dallas secondary with a freakish stat line of 10 catches on 11 targets for 146 yards and scoring two touchdowns, including perhaps the greatest catch ever seen in an NFL game. I am predicting that Odell Beckham Jr. has a 9-catch game for at least 85 yards and 1 score. OBJ is a must start in your fantasy lineups and should definitely be on your daily roster too, as he is well worth his DraftKings price of $9,200 and the FanDuel price of $8,900.
My fantasy dud for Sunday night’s game is running back Rashad Jennings. Jennings could only muster up 3.8 yards per carry in 2014, and is now in a three-headed backfield with Andre Williams and newcomer Shane Vereen. Even though Jennings is listed as the starter per ESPN, he will see a lot of shared time with other talented running backs. It also does not bode well that he is facing the 8th ranked run defense from last year. If you have any other option to replace Jennings in your starting lineup for week 1, do so. My prediction here is that he will finish with around 12 touches for no more than 42 yards.
In the overall outcome of the game, the Cowboys should come away with the victory in this one, as they still have an offensive powerhouse to couple with a solid overall defense. The Giants still have questions on whether or not they can retain a consistent level of play. I predict the Cowboys to win this game easily with a score of 31-17.
See all of Gridiron Experts NFL Week One Picks Here