Cleat Geeks

NFL Sunday Night Football Preview: Week 2

Week 2 of Sunday Night Football will pit bitter NFC East rivals against one another when the New York Giants (0-1) come to Arlington, TX to face the Dallas Cowboys (0-1). Both teams are coming off of a loss in the season’s opening weekend and neither was pretty. Dallas could not get anything going on offense and only managed 8 points in a loss in Carolina. The Giants couldn’t contend with the league’s best defense and dropped their home-opener to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Neither team looked even remotely decent on offense as they both finished among the worst 10 offenses in Week 1. On the positive side, both also finished with top 10 defenses, so this could be a low scoring affair.

Dallas plays in a dome so weather will not be a factor when the game kicks off at 8:20 EST on Sunday. Let’s look closer at the teams.

New York Giants

The Giants faced a tough task in their home-opener with the Jacksonville Jaguars and their vaunted defense coming to town. The Jaguars came away with a 20-15 win. It was a close game, despite New York being held out of the end zone until early in the 4th quarter. Rookie sensation, Saquon Barkley managed that lone TD and finished the game with 128 total yards. Eli Manning looked about as mediocre as mediocre gets on throws to anyone not named Odell Beckham Jr, OBJ played excellent in his first game back after missing most of 2017, finishing with 11 catches for 111 yards. Dallas’ secondary does not even resemble what Jacksonville has so Eli will need to take advantage of this much easier opportunity.

On defense, while the Giants held the Jaguars to just 20 points, they only sacked Blake Bortles one time. The Giants secondary played excellent as no Jacksonville WR found the end zone or even managed more than 55 yards. New York will need that kind of coverage again plus they will need to get after Dak Prescott in order to win against Dallas. Olivier Vernon and Landon Collins are the lynchpins to this defense and Vernon will miss this game with an ankle injury. Janoris Jenkins also missed some practice while dealing with a family issue but should be good to go for Sunday night.

Key Injuries: OLB Olivier Vernon (Ankle)

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas traveled to North Carolina in Week 1 and came home with an opening weekend L. The final score was 16-8 and was nearly a shutout until Ezekiel Elliott scampered into the end zone late in the 4th quarter. Dallas’ offense was never able to get much going and very clearly missed having any playmakers outside of Elliott. With the loss of Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and franchise-best kicker Dan Bailey this off-season, there was nobody to help score points. Only one WR or TE even managed more 30 yards, and that was the slot WR Cole Beasley. The new kicker even missed a FG to rub salt in the wound. It was an ugly day that Dallas and their offensive line would soon like to forget. Dak Prescott was sacked 6 times and hurried on over 50% of his throws. You’re simply not going to win games if you don’t protect your QB so that will have to be a Dallas focus this week against the Giants.

The woes of the offense did not carry over to the defensive side of the ball. Dallas held a formidable Panthers offense to only 16 points and shut their WRs down. The secondary will face a much tougher task with Odell Beckham in Week 2. They did allow Christian McCaffrey 95 total yards so they will need to be cautious about how much room they give Saquon Barkley. Unfortunately, 3 members of their front 7 sustained injuries and it looks like Datone Jones and Randy Gregory will end up missing this game. Dallas did manage to sack Cam Newton 3 times in Week 1 and will need that effort plus some to help keep the pressure off of their secondary while trying to contain OBJ.

Key Injuries: C Travis Frederick (Illness) – DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Groin) – DT Datone Jones (Knee) – DE Randy Gregory (Concussion) – S Xavier Woods (Hamstring)

Matchups to Watch

Giants Defensive Line vs Dallas Offensive Line
Dak Prescott was harassed on seeming every throw against Carolina and if Dallas wants to win this game, and I assume they do, that will need to stop. Prescott was sacked 6 times last week and hit another 10 times. That’s contact on more than 50% of his dropbacks and it will be up to guys like Damon Harrison and BJ Hill to take advantage of that opportunity if it presents itself again this week, especially with the team’s best pass-rusher, Olivier Vernon, missing the game.

Odell Beckham Jr vs The Entire Dallas Secondary
Putting it simply, I don’t think anyone on this entire Dallas roster can cover Odell Beckham Jr, and I’m not even sure they could double-team him. He’s already infamous against Dallas for “The Catch” and it’s possible that he has an even bigger night in store for Sunday. I don’t think 10 catches for over 175 yards and a couple of TDs is out of the range of possibilities.

Landon Collins vs Ezekiel Elliott
Landon Collins is one of the best safeties in the league and plays seemingly all over the field. Ezekiel Elliott is a hard runner who does not shy away from contact. This could be an “unstoppable force vs immovable object” story. Collins had 4 tackles last week and Elliott was held to 69 yards. But when these teams faced off last year, Collins nearly led the team in tackles both games and Elliott went over 100 yards in his one appearance. Look for these 2 to crunch shoulder pads on more than one occasion.

Fantasy Focus

Look, Odell Beckham and Ezekiel Elliott are going to get theirs, but the 3rd most productive fantasy asset in this game might be Dallas WR Cole Beasley. Last week he was targeted 8 times and reeled in 7 balls for 73 yards. Dak will continue to face pressure and will need to move the ball quickly. Without a viable TE, Beasley should find himself peppered with targets yet again.

Prediction

In 2017, Dallas won both of their matchups vs the New York Giants but that was a very different set of teams. Dallas has lost firepower and New York now has 2 of the most explosive players in the league on offense. Odell Beckham looks ready to prove to the world that he is worth all of that money he got paid and I think he will prove uncoverable by any of Dallas’ CBs. Look for OBJ to take this game over and the Giants to register their first win.

New York Giants 24 – Dallas Cowboys 20

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