Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will play against the New York Giants in Sunday night’s regular season opener…and it doesn’t mean, in the words of Jim Mora, Sr., diddly poo.
The Cowboys have lost three in a row to the Giants, including a sweep of last season’s games. By the time Sunday night is over, it will be four in a row.
The status of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is also in the air as well…and that doesn’t mean much either. Big Blue will win this game whether OBJ is on the field or not.
Sure, the Cowboys have Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. That might actually mean something if they weren’t facing one of the NFL’s most ferocious defenses.
Let’s turn the clock back to 2016. Prescott went 42-of-82 for 392 yards and one touchdown in two games. As for Elliott, he didn’t fare much better against the Giants. He had 44 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown in the two losses. Janoris Jenkins shut down Dez Bryant and the other Cowboys receivers were reduced to miniscule role players. Elliott may very well get his yards on the ground but it will mean nothing because the Giants secondary will not allow any long bombs or short passes that turn into long gains.
Safety Landon Collins was robbed off the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and enters 2017 with an enormous chip on his shoulder. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul signed a big extension and also has DPOY aspirations. The secondary is improved with the return of Darian Thompson and the middle linebacker position is better with B.J. Goodson.
Eli Manning didn’t exactly light up the stat sheets in the Giants’ two wins last season but he was calm, steady, and picked the Cowboys apart despite a lack of offensive firepower. In his 200th consecutive regular season start, No. 10 will have weapons at his disposal that make Beckham’s questionable status not as big a deal as it would have been in years past.
The additions of Brandon Marshall and rookie tight end Evan Engram will help Manning take advantage of a Cowboys secondary who can’t cover a mattress. Sterling Shepard is back from a very productive rookie season. There are still questions about the Giants offensive line and running game but the Cowboys won’t offer much in the way of a pass rush because of suspensions so look for Manning to take full advantage of the Allas efense, so called because there’s no D.
There’s still a chance that Beckham may play because it’s a nationally televised game against a hated rival. Even if OBJ doesn’t play, the Giants will silence Cowboys fans and get 2017 off to a good start.