Eli Manning and the New York Giants are set to kick off the 2017 NFL season this week on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. These two teams make up one of the most storied rivalries in sports, and it is fitting that they will be Sunday’s prime-time game.
Dallas is widely viewed as one of the best teams in the NFL once again this season. After watching the young offense lead the way to the NFL’s best regular season record in 2016, the bar has been set high this year. Dak Prescott will be asked to take a big step forward, and the Cowboys are anticipating a deep playoff run.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, this offseason has been filled with drama for star running back Ezekiel Elliott. He has continually put himself in bad situations off the field and saw his six-game suspension upheld by the league this week. Thankfully for the Cowboys, he will be eligible to play this week as he tries to fight his suspension.
Needless to say, the Giants have a lot of work to do if they want to win their opener. Manning and company have a very talented roster, but beating the Cowboys is never easy. That being said, the Giants were able to sweep the two-game season series in 2016.
What keys must the Giants focus on in order to come away with a Week 1 victory over the Cowboys?
Paul Perkins Must Get Off to a Hot Start
Perhaps the biggest question mark at this point in time is at the running back position. Paul Perkins is taking over as the starter, but he is an unproven commodity at this point in his career. New York needs him to get off to a hot start and help take pressure off of Manning and the passing game.
Win the Turnover Battle
Dallas may not have one of the league’s best defenses, but Manning has had interception issues in the past. If the Giants want to head into Dallas and come out with a win, they will have to win the turnover battle. New York has one of the league’s most underrated defenses, and they need it to come through with a big game.
Stop Ezekiel Elliott
Now that it is known that Elliott will be playing this week, the Giants’ defense must focus on stopping him. Prescott is going to put up numbers, but the Cowboys’ offense plays at a different level when Elliott is clicking on all cylinders. Slowing him down will make things difficult for the Cowboys’ offense, especially with how talented the Giants’ secondary is this season.
Put Pressure on Dak Prescott
As good as Prescott was last season, the Giants should be confident that they can make a young quarterback make mistakes if they put pressure on him. New York needs their pass rush to be strong this week. Prescott isn’t going to make a ton of mistakes, but the Giants must pressure him and capitalize on the few that he does.
Expect to see this game come down to the wire. New York and Dallas are fairly evenly matched, and this game should reflect that fact. It won’t be easy for the Giants to take home a road win, but these are major keys for them to hone in on for Sunday night.
Do you think the New York Giants will knock off the Dallas Cowboys? Are there other keys that you would add to the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Julio Cortez/AP Images]