WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Central Time
WATCH: NBC (Al Michaels & Cris Collinsworth)
10: Eli Manning’s jersey number — The 14-year veteran has amassed a 15-12 record against the Cowboys, and no one has thrown more Opening Day touchdowns against the team with 12. Manning brings his best games against the Cowboys defense. In fact, all three of his 100-plus passer rating games on Opening Day were at the expense of the Dallas defense in 2013, 2015, and 2016. Dallas’ young secondary and unproven pass rush will have a tall order as they attempt to keep Manning from having a third consecutive 100-plus passer rating game on Opening Day.
9: The Cowboys offense’s rank on third conversions — Dallas converted 41.1 percent of their third downs in 2016. However, the Giants defense stifled the Cowboys to where they could only convert on 11-of-32 (34.4 percent) of third downs. They took the ninth-best third down offense and turned them into the fourth-worst (which incidentally were the Giants). The Cowboys will need to do as Jason Garrett says and “be who you are” as opposed to becoming the Giants.
8: Dak Prescott’s rank for fewest sacks in 2016 — Opposing defenses took down the fourth-rounder from Mississippi State a total of 25 times with New York able to do so three times in the two meetings. Prescott avoided defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo’s pass rush in the first meeting, but could not in the second game. Prescott will need to be aware in the pocket and find the open man and also take off and scramble if nothing is downfield to mitigate the Giants pass rush.
7: Ben McAdoo’s win total against playoff-winning head coaches — As a rookie head coach, McAdoo compiled a 7-3 mark against head coaches who had playoff wins. Two of those wins came against Jason Garrett, joining McAdoo with Tom Coughlin and Jim Fassel as the only Giants head coaches to sweep Dallas in his first year as head coach. Perhaps 2016 was beginner’s luck, but another win against Dallas would suggest McAdoo has figure out the Cowboys.
6: Odell Beckham’s 100-yard games against the NFC East — Washington has the most with three, Philadelphia with two, and the Cowboys surprisingly with just one, which was earned on Nov. 23, 2014 in the famous one-handed catch loss 31-28. But the threat of Beckham breaking one play for a score should be foremost on the Cowboys defense’s minds. After all, it was a 61-yard YAC special that was the difference in the Giants’ 10-7 victory over Dallas in last season’s December rematch.
5: Dallas’ rank in giveaways in 2016 — The Cowboys surrendered possession 15 times last season with six interceptions and nine fumbles. Of course, two of those picks came from Mark Sanchez in one game, but rookie quarterback Dak Prescott was responsible for four of those nine fumbles as he was susceptible to blindside sack-fumbles. The Giants defense scored 74 points off of takeaways last season. The Cowboys need not give New York any advantages in a division battle to start 2017.
4: Number of sacks the Cowboys defense had against Eli Manning — Defensive end Benson Mayowa had one apiece on Opening Day and later in the rematch on Dec. 11, while Orlando Scandrick had one on Opening Day and Tyrone Crawford with a sack in the December meeting. The math is simple: New York is 37-57 when Manning is sacked two or more times compared to 72-37 when he is sacked once or not at all. Pressure and disruption on Manning will be key if the Cowboys are to snap their three-game losing streak to the Giants.
3: Ezekiel Elliott’s yards per carry against the Giants — The number is actually 3.6, which would make it closer to four mathematically, but then that wouldn’t make much sense stylistically. Anyway, Elliott’s total is skewed thanks to his 20 carries for 51 yards in last year’s season opener. On a snowy night in December in New York, Elliott rushed for 107 yards on 24 carries, but Prescott’s interceptions killed drives at midfield that wasted 23 of Elliott’s best yards. Elliott will need to rise above the 3.6 yards per carry to help Dallas to victory.
2: Number of career 100-yard rushing games on the Giants roster — That’s right. Among the Giants’ four running backs on the 53-man roster, they can cobble together just two 100-yard games. Shane Vereen rushed for 101 yards on Opening Day with New England, and Paul Perkins had 102 on Jan. 1 at Washington in the last game of 2016. The Giants rushers are unproven, and the Cowboys need to hearken back to their 2016 rushing defense, which allowed 3.9 yards per carry, the 11th-best in the NFL.
1: Dez Bryant’s total catches against New York in 2016 — Bryant, who previously torched the Giants for five catches, 78 yards, and a touchdown on average, could only grab one pass in each of his two games against New York, totaling 18 yards and a lost fumble. Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins shut Bryant down. The off-season chemistry between Bryant and Prescott needs to materialize against the New York secondary, and Bryant put Jenkins back in his 2014 form, in order for the Cowboys to prevail.