Get ready for some football with our video graphic of the Dallas Cowboys' upcoming preseason and regular season games Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com
Get ready for some football with our video graphic of the Dallas Cowboys' upcoming preseason and regular season games Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants bring big challenges in opener against Cowboys

September 05, 2017 12:21 PM

UPDATED September 05, 2017 03:15 PM

The Dallas Cowboys are opening against the New York Giants for the fifth time in the past six years. The Cowboys lost last year’s opening game 20-19 as Terrance Williams failed to get out of bounds as time expired and prevented the Cowboys from attempting what would have been a game-winning field goal.

But the Cowboys won the previous four openers against the Giants.

The Cowboys lead the NFC with 32 wins in home openers since 1970. The Giants have 50 wins on kickoff weekend, the third-most all-time.

This one is doubly important because it’s an NFC East game.

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Here’s five things to know about the Giants:

Eli is coming

Eli Manning is going into his 14th season as the Giants’ quarterback. He is coming off his third consecutive season in which he’s thrown for more than 4,000 yards. With two Super Bowl rings, Manning is a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback. “He has played at a level that always seems to have them around a championship,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Beckham watch

The Giants’ receiving corps is among the best in the league. Odell Beckham Jr.’s status is uncertain because of an injury. Even if Beckham is out, the Giants still boast the likes of Brandon Marshall, who has more than 12,000 receiving yards in his career, and Sterling Shepard, who is coming off a solid rookie season with 65 catches, 683 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Big targets

It always seems like the Cowboys struggle to hold a Giants tight end out of the end zone in these games. Larry Donnell scored a touchdown last year. So expect the Cowboys to put an emphasis on containing the Giants’ tight ends, particularly first-round pick Evan Engram. Engram is a big target for Manning, and will be a handful for defensive backs such as Byron Jones or Chidobe Awuzie to cover.

Run game

The Cowboys struggled running the ball last season against the Giants. They combined for only 101 rushing yards in the season opener, and 108 in the matchup later in the year at New York. The Cowboys will have a difficult time establishing the run even with Ezekiel Elliott. Without him, that becomes an even bigger uphill battle.

Close calls

These games are usually decided by a field goal or less, and the Giants are banking on an unproven kicker this season. Aldrick Rosas has never kicked an NFL field goal, but he showed enough to beat out veteran Mike Nugent in training camp. This game could become an early defining moment in Rosas’ career, good or bad.

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

Dallas Cowboys 2017 schedule

Regular season

Sept. 10 vs. New York Giants (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 17 at Denver (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Arizona (ESPN) 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Los Angeles Rams (KDFW/4) Noon

Oct. 8 vs. Green Bay (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.

Oct. 15 Bye

Oct. 22 at San Francisco (KDFW/4) 3:05 p.m.

Oct. 29 at Washington (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.

Nov. 5 vs. Kansas City (KTVT 11) 3:25 p.m.

Nov. 12 at Atlanta (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.

Nov. 19 vs. Philadelphia (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 23 vs. LA Chargers (KTVT/11) 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 30 vs. Washington (KXAS/5) 7:25 p.m.

Dec. 10 at New York Giants (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.

Dec. 17 at Raiders (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 24 vs. Seattle (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.

Dec. 31 at Philadelphia (KDFW/4) Noon