IRVING, Texas – Preparations for Week 1 are drawing to a close, and I've drawn the best conclusions I can from watching the film of the Giants.
As I usually do on Friday before a game, I've taken those impressions and come up with two big keys that I think will dictate the way things play out this weekend. These are the two crucial elements to this matchup that will determine whether the Cowboys or Giants come away with a win.
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be stretched thin with his secondary trying to match up with the skill players on this Cowboys offense.
The closest thing Spagnuolo has in a quality corner is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and even if he puts him over the top of Dez Bryant, Spagnuolo is going to struggle with the other positions. Prince Amukamara has never developed liked the Giants believed he would. Jayron Hosley is unreliable in the slot and rookie Landon Collins has a chance to be a nice box safety one day, but when asked to play coverage at Alabama, it wasn't a strength.
Spagnuolo knows that by rushing only four at Tony Romo there is a good chance that he will expose his secondary. What I believe we will see from Spagnuolo is that he will test these Cowboys running backs, both mentally and physically, to pick up the blitz.
If Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar struggle to recognize and execute, then Spagnuolo will get exactly what he needs to protect his secondary. But if these Cowboys running backs have success handling the pressure, then Spagnuolo's defense is likely in for a long night and the Cowboys will come away with the victory.
New York Giants Win If:
Even with the likelihood of no Victor Cruz for the Giants on Sunday, the big play possibility is still there for the Giants with Odell Beckham Jr.
I expect we will see offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo work with Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen out of the backfield on screens and draws to keep this Cowboys pass rush honest. But when McAdoo needs to keep a drive going on a third down or take a shot down the field, Beckham Jr. will be his guy.
For the Cowboys, Beckham Jr. presents a host of problems -- not only with his ability to catch the ball, but where he lines up in the formation to do it. What's interesting is that despite all his talent, the Cowboys are likely to cover him with whichever corner he is lined up across.
Under Rob Ryan you would have most likely seen him matched up with one player, but now under Rod Marnelli that's not the case. If the Giants are going to win this game they are going to need to find the best matchup that they can take advantage and allow Odell Beckham Jr. to be the difference-maker.