This is a clear strength vs. strength matchup, which plays out when the Cowboys are on offense. The Giants’ defense matches up well with the strengths of the Cowboys’ offense. The run defense can do enough to not let Ezekiel Elliott run wild and the secondary should be able to hold the receivers in check. The game probably doesn’t get away one way or another on that side.
Where the game could be won is on the other side of the ball. The way to beat the Giants last season was by overwhelming the offensive line against both the pass and the run. Close rushing lanes and force the ball out quickly on passes. Dallas doesn’t really have the defensive line to take advantage of that matchup -- they were 29th in defensive pressure rate last season, per Football Outsiders -- which could give Paul Perkins a little more room to run and Eli Manning a little more time to throw.
Dallas is going to continue to be a really good team this season and overall they could still be a better team than the Giants, but they match up poorly here.
Giants 20, Dallas 17
The NFL seems to love scheduling games for the Giants that are about as close as they can come to "must win" games in week one. The Giants could really benefit by setting the right tone for both their season and the Cowboys.
Also, the dynamics in this game are absolutely fascinating. On one hand are the question marks surrounding the Giants' offense (the offensive line, Odell Beckham, any schematic changes to incorporate the upgrades at tight end), and on the other are the question marks surrounding the Cowboys' defense (their secondary, suspension depleted defensive line, how Jaylon Smith will play).
I'm operating on the assumption that Odell Beckham will be held out until he is 100% and not play this week. But still, I am going to predict a Giants win. Even without OBJ, the Giants have upgraded their offensive personnel. The absence of Beckham might even force more two tight end sets for the Giants, of which defenses have little tape.
Giants 24, Cowboys 20
The Giants will roll into Jerry’s World in Arlington and show the Cowboys why they swept the season series last year. The game will be close throughout but will end with a Big Blue defensive stand on the last drive. Giants narrowly escape.
Giants 31, Cowboys 28
I like our streak against the Pokes to continue, mainly due to our defense. We held the Cowboys to 26 points last year in two contests, and that's while the rest of the league deemed their offense unstoppable. I don't know if Odell will play, or how Eli will play, but I know Snacks is gonna EAT.
Giants 17, Cowboys 10
In recent years, Giants-Cowboys games have always been close, hinging on a couple of late-game plays. I see this one playing out the same way. With Odell Beckham Jr. unlikely to play this will be a struggle for the Giants’ offense. Like so many games last year, it’s one the defense is going to have to win. I think it does.
Giants 17, Cowboys 13