(Editor's Note: Each week, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will present "The Big Picture" for the upcoming game, presenting an overall update for each team as they head into the upcoming contest. This week, the Cowboys and Giants square off in a Week 1 matchup at AT&T Stadium.)
WHAT:New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
WHEN: Sunday, 3:25 p.m. (Central)
WHERE:AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
A good portion of the Cowboys' roster is familiar with this division rivalry, but two projected rookie starters are getting set for their first-ever matchup with the New York Giants. Quarterback Dak Prescott – filling in for injured starter Tony Romo – and running back Ezekiel Elliott are poised to become the franchise's first Week 1 rookie quarterback/running back combo in the starting lineup since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969.
Their regular-season debuts comprise a major storyline in the Cowboys' fourth opener against the Giants since 2012. But they'll be aided by a veteran offensive line and accomplished skill players, including a healthy Dez Bryant, who broke his foot in last year's season opener at AT&T Stadium and missed seven games due to foot and ankle injuries.
Defensively, the Cowboys held the Giants under 300 total yards in both games last year. (The teams split, 1-1). In the secondary, cornerback Orlando Scandrick is back to team with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne after missing the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL and MCL. The defensive line rotation will have a different look than last year, though – defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are starting the season on NFL suspension, and newcomers Benson Mayowa, Maliek Collins and Cedric Thornton will look to pressure Eli Manning in his 25th career start against Dallas.
New York Giants
The Giants finished last season with a 6-10 record, but their offense was among the league's best. Manning set career bests in passing yards (4,432) and passer rating (93.6), and the offense as a unit ranked eighth in total yards per game (349.5) and sixth in points per game (26.5). First-year head coach Ben McAdoo, promoted from offensive coordinator in January, provides stability for Manning in his 13th season. The veteran quarterback has no shortage of options: All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., running backs Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, and receiver Victor Cruz's expected return from a torn patellar tendon that sidelined him all of last season.
On defense, the Giants spent big in free agency to boost their production up front and in the secondary, signing star defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle Damon Harrison to contracts reportedly totaling more than $190 million.
And the Cowboys' special teams must tighten up their coverage against former draft pick Dwayne Harris, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Giants' 27-20 win over Dallas at the Meadowlands last October.