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Giants vs. Cowboys: What to Watch For

Giants take on Cowboys in Dallas

We’re back! Regular season NFL football has returned, and the Giants will play in the first Sunday Night Football game of the season when they face the Cowboys tonight in Arlington. Here are a few things to keep an eye on as the Giants look to start the season 1-0.

The 84 Million Dollar Man

It came down to the wire, but Eli Manning finally got his extension. He and the Giants agreed to a four-year, $84 million ($65 million guaranteed) extension. The pact, which includes a full no-trade clause, should keep Manning with Big Blue through the 2019 season. Now, it’s time for him to earn that money. Manning is 4-2 at AT&T Stadium, but has lost his last two. He looks to get back on the right track tonight, despite the fact that…

Hold the Salsa

…Victor Cruz (calf) will not play. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that the Giants have gotten used to not having Cruz, as he has still not seen game action since his season-ending knee injury last year. Also good news, Cruz’s current injury is to his calf, not the injured knee, so they are unrelated. With Cruz still without a firm timetable, the Giants will turn to Rueben Randle to pick up the slack opposite Odell Beckham, with Preston Parker likely to see action in three-receiver sets.

The Trenches

The Giants’ defensive line against the Cowboys’ offensive line seems like a battle Dallas is destined to win. Equipped with one of the best o-lines in the league, pressuring Tony Romo and stopping a running back (Joseph Randle? Darren McFadden?) in the backfield is going to be tough. The Giants website’s unofficial depth chart lists Robert Ayers and Cullen Jenkins starting at defensive line with Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn (somehow) starting at defensive tackle. Expect Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn to see plenty of play at end as the G-Men work to fill the void until Jason Pierre-Paul returns.

The Verdict

I see this either ending in a close victory for either team, or a Dallas blowout. We’ve seen everything we need to see from the Giants defense. It’s not going to be very good this year, and it certainly doesn’t help that middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee) will not play tonight. This game will hinge on the offense finding some cohesion and consistency following a preseason where they didn’t show much of either. With Manning’s extension now signed, sealed and delivered, hopefully the biggest headlines Manning will be making will be about a solid performance tonight.

Giants 34, Cowboys 28

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