The Dallas Cowboys had one enormous concern entering the season -- one that was eased this week when star running back Ezekiel Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million contract extension. The main question now for Dallas is how much playing time Elliott will see when it hosts the New York Giants on Sunday -- the fourth time in five years the NFC East rivals have squared off in Week 1.
"He's in very good shape," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Elliott, who has led the league in rushing twice in his first three seasons. "He looks good, but he hasn't practiced with pro football players, so we'll just see how he fits back in. But he's a quick study. ... So we'll just see where he is and adjust accordingly as we go." With Elliott in the fold, Dallas is being mentioned as a Super Bowl contender after winning the NFC East and a first-round playoff game before losing to the eventual conference champion Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys' first three opponents all finished below .500 last season, starting with the Giants, who also will build their offense around an elite running back in reigning Offensive Rookie of Year Saquon Barkley. With New York having won only eight games over the past two seasons while posting back-to-back last-place finishes in the division, coach Pat Shurmur offered a simple goal: "Progress is we've got to start playing winning football."
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cowboys -7.5. O/U: 45.5
ABOUT THE GIANTS (2018: 5-11, 4TH IN NFC EAST): The trade of star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. puts the offensive onus on Barkley, who led the league with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. Barkley had 91 receptions and rushed for more than 100 yards in five of his last seven games, including 109 against Dallas in the season finale. Eli Manning, who enters his 16th season looking over his shoulder after the Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the No. 6 overall pick, has a de facto No. 1 wide receiver in Sterling Shepard and a budding star at tight end in Evan Engram, coming off a 45-catch season. New York was next-to-last with 30 sacks in 2018, but bolstered the defense with first-round picks in nose tackle Dexter Lawrence and cornerback Deandre Baker
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (2018: 10-6, 1ST IN NFC EAST): Elliott topped the league with 1,434 yards rushing and matched Barkley with an NFL-high seven 100-yard games while adding a career-best 77 catches. Third-year quarterback Zak Prescott threw for a career-best 3,885 yards along with 22 touchdowns in 2018 and now will have a full season with wide receiver Amari Cooper, who totaled six touchdown catches in nine games after he was acquired in a trade with Oakland. On the other side of the ball, Dallas ranked sixth in points allowed (20.3) and fifth in rushing yards permitted (94.6). Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has registered double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons while linebacker Leighton Vander Esch notched 140 tackles as a rookie.
1. Dallas has won four straight overall and five of six at home versus New York.
2. Giants WR Golden Tate will serve a four-game suspension to open the season.
3. Cowboys TE Jason Witten, who returned from a one-year retirement, has nine TD catches in his last 10 games versus the Giants.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Predictions 09-08-2019
FinishedTV: FOXAT&T Stadium Arlington
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