Giants: 3 matchups essential to victory in Week 1 vs. the Cowboys

new york giants, daniel jones
Nov 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of the game between the Cowboys and the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants begin their 2023 regular season next weekend, kicking things off with a primetime matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants will be at home hosting Dallas on Sunday night football, aiming to get their season off on the right track with a divisional victory. But in order for New York to come away victorious, they must win three essential matchups to beat the Cowboys.

Can Evan Neal hold his own against the Cowboys’ pass rush?

RT Evan Neal is entering his second season in the NFL after a disappointing rookie campaign. As a rookie, Neal surrendered 39 pressures and seven sacks and was statistically ranked as one of the worst offensive tackles in the league. In Week 1, Neal and the Giants’ offensive line will have their hands full against the Cowboys’ pass rush.

Dallas’ defense is led by OLB Micah Parsons, who has been a first-team All-Pro twice in as many seasons. Parsons is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, totaling 13.5 sacks last season. Neal will be challenged by Parsons’ formidability throughout the contest.

In addition to Parsons, Dallas has veteran DE DeMarcus Lawrence on the front line. Lawrence is as equally disruptive against the run as he is in the pass rush. He posted six sacks, nine tackles for loss, and 65 combined tackles last season en route to a Pro Bowl appearance.

Neal struggled throughout 2022, but he has trained hard in preparation for his second season. He will need to look like an improved version of himself in Week 1 to keep New York’s offense afloat against Dallas’ pass rush.

[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”151323″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]

Baptizing rookie CBs by fire

The Giants are starting two rookie cornerbacks in Week 1, essentially baptizing these inexperienced defensive backs by fire against the Cowboys. Rookies Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III are slated to start on the boundary to open the season. Banks and Hawkins will have their hands full, however, as they matchup with second-team All-Pro WR CeeDee Lamb and veteran WRs Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup.

Banks is preparing for his debut with a fearless mindset, aiming to build on his excellent preseason campaign. Across his 33 coverage snaps this preseason, Banks was targeted four times, surrendering 0 receptions and a 39.6 passer rating allowed, per Pro Football Focus. Hawkins has also stood out all summer, earning a spot in the starting lineup as a sixth-round rookie.

Slowing down CeeDee Lamb and the rest of the Cowboys’ receivers will be crucial to winning in Week 1. The Cowboys possessed one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses last season, averaging 27.5 points per game (ranking fourth). Lamb and the rest of Dallas’ weapons played a big part in the offense’s success. Banks and Hawkins will need to hold their own if the Giants want to earn the win in Week 1.

The Giants need their franchise QB to rise to the occasion

The Giants paid QB Daniel Jones handsomely this offseason, establishing him as the team’s franchise quarterback. Jones has proven himself as a quality signal-caller through the first four seasons of his career, but with his new contract comes elevated expectations.

So far, Jones has a 1–6 career record against the Dallas Cowboys. To make matters worse, Jones is historically terrible in primetime regular season matches. Week 1 will be a big test for Jones as he aims to lead his team to a win in Week 1, as he did a season ago. But with the odds stacked against him, the Giants need Jones to rise to the occasion.