The New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys are both winless after losing efforts in Week 1, with the Giants falling by five to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cowboys bested by eight against the Carolina Panthers. The two will meet in Dallas on Sunday night, and the Giants are only underdogs, by the odds, simply by being the visiting team.
The Giants opened at 3.5-point underdogs to Dallas; 5Dimes.eu has the Giants at +3, as does Bovada.lv as of Tuesday. Conventionally speaking, that gives the teams even odds were Sunday’s game played at a neutral site. The opening over/under point total was 43.5; 5Dimes now has it at 42.5 and Bovada, 42, a relatively high-scoring game being predicted presently.
The close odds make sense given both teams’ performances in their Week 1 losses. The Cowboys converted just two of their 11 third downs as the offense looked anemic, given the team’s dearth of passing-game weaponry and center Travis Frederick’s absence. While they scored in their lone red-zone appearance, the Cowboys thus only were in scoring position once against the Panthers defense. That defense managed six sacks of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, while Ezekiel Elliot had only 69 yards (and one touchdown) on his 15 carries.
The Giants at least eclipsed the 300-yard mark on offense against Jacksonville’s stout defense, and quarterback Eli Manning was sacked just twice. He was, however, intercepted as well and the Giants offense came up with zero points on two red-zone trips. The offense also sparingly converted its third downs, going 4-of-13.
But Manning was still able to connect with top receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., who had 111 yards on his 11 receptions. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley amassed 106 yards on his 18 carries, but the bulk came on one 68-yard yard touchdown run. And while New York’s defense sacked Blake Bortles just once, but did have four quarterback hits and Janoris Jenkins came away with an interception.
Team trends are hard to predict with only one game’s worth of evidence to point to. And with the Cowboys and Giants both displaying similar traits in their respective losses on Sunday, the tight odds are not a surprise. While the Giants seem to be trending upward and the Cowboys downward, their matching 0-1 records, the unpredictable nature of the NFC East and Dallas’ home-field advantage have more heavily influenced oddsmakers’ hands.