The first Sunday of the 2019 NFL season will feature two marquee matchups between the teams in the NFC East. Among them, all eyes will be on the Dallas Cowboys as they square off against the New York Giants.
Throughout the offseason, Dallas has been without Ezekiel Elliott as he’s been in the midst of a holdout with the organization. The All-Pro running back is searching for an extension that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid running back.
The front office seems to be close to getting a deal done at any moment now. If not, the Cowboys may have to rely on rookie Tony Pollard to handle the rushing duties. Pollard, a Tennessee native, impressed during the preseason with his ability to be a dual-threat weapon out of the backfield.
As for the Giants, the team is moving forward without Odell Beckham Jr. in their offense in 2019. New York traded him to the Cleveland Browns and will depend upon Sterling Shepard and veteran Golden Tate to produce in the passing game.
When the teams kick off on Sunday at 4:25 pm Eastern time, they both could look vastly different than the last time they faced each other.
With that being said, here are four bold predictions for the Cowboys and Giants Week 1 matchup.
4. Dallas Will Force Five Turnovers
Coming into the 2019 season, Pat Shurmur and the Giants seem semi-confident that Eli Manning can still help the team win games. At 38-years-old, Manning’s play from under center has continued to decline in the past few seasons.
Over the years, Manning has always had issues with turnovers but his decision-making has taken a nosedive. Since 2013, Manning has thrown 95 interceptions and has fumbled it 50 times. His 145 turnovers in the past six seasons are by far the most in the NFL in that span.
The Cowboys had 20 takeaways in 2018—one fewer than the Giants had last year. This season, Dallas will get off to a fast start in the turnover category by forcing five turnovers on Manning and the Giants this Sunday.
If people in New York weren’t calling for Daniel Jones now; they will be by the end of this game.
3. Saquon Barkley Will Touch the Ball 35 Times
Due to the Giants trading OBJ to the Browns, New York will heavily lean on second-year running back Saquon Barkley. In Barkley’s rookie campaign, he galvanized defenses for 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns on his way to winning the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
The Penn State product will be tasked with being the Giants’ go-to weapon in the offense. Barkley should expect to see an uptick in his workload from last year with less talent around him. The Giants will need a heavy dose of Barkley if they expect to win this weekend.
After sitting out the entire preseason, the young phenom will begin the season with 35 touches versus the Cowboys.
The most touches that Barkley had in one game in 2018 was 29 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10.
2. Dak Prescott Will Throw for 400 Yards
Since becoming the Cowboys starting quarterback in 2016, Dak Prescott hasn’t been asked to throw the ball much. Last year, Prescott attempted a career-high 526 passes (13th most in NFL).
Over the past three seasons, Prescott only has five games where he has thrown for more than 300 yards through the air. In the light of that, two of those games have come against the Giants.
Regardless if Elliott suits up or not, Prescott will throw for 400 yards against the Giants on Sunday.
The fourth-year quarterback knows that he is in a contract year and needs to prove himself to the organization.
1. The Cowboys Will Win 34-14
Usually, games between the Cowboys and Giants are close regardless of the players who are on the field. However, there have been some outliers among the close games and this Sunday will be one of them.
With or without Elliott, Dallas has the more talented team in all three facets of the game. Therefore, they need to take care of business on Sunday by taking control of the game for all 60 minutes.
The last game that ended with a 20-point deficit or higher between these NFC East foes came on December 10, 2017. In that game, Prescott led the way with 332 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game.
This time around, Dallas will take down New York and increase their all-time series record to 67-46-2.
The Cowboys will come out victorious by the score of 34-14 to begin their season.