Heading into week 2 of the regular season, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will be fighting to crawl out of an 0-1 hole. The team that falls to 0-2 will need to muster some serious strength to find a way out of the darkness. Expect the Giants to utilize their shiny new toy in Saquon Barkley early and often, especially since there’s very limited tape on his abilities in the NFL.
Barkley finished week 1 with two receptions on six targets. An uptick in receptions should be in the works for this week. The Cowboys have a solid defensive line, and finding a way to expose their tenacity at the line of scrimmage with be a priority.
Dallas’ top two linebackers, Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, are both a-gap blitzers that will apply tremendous pressure on the Giants’ offense line and Eli Manning, which likely means head coach Pat Shurmur will focus on the short to intermediate passing game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few man-coverage shots to Odell Beckham Jr. down the sidelines.
But what should we expect from Barkley in terms of overall production in week 2?
After salvaging his regular season debut with a 68-yard touchdown run to bring the Giants within one score of Jags, the expectations are elevated against the Cowboys. There’s no doubt that he will face off against a much weaker defensive front this week, but I would never rule out a tough, physical matchup against a division rival.
If you take away Barkley’s TD run, he averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. His one big run brought him up to 5.9 yards per carry. He will have to be more efficient on first-down and hope that the right side of the line can hold up against Dallas’ best pass-rusher in Demarcus Lawrence. Shurmur should consider utilizing Rhett Ellison on the right side to help chip the defensive end to allow Barkley more time and space to maneuver.
My prediction for the game is 18 carries, 98 yards and five receptions for 47 yards and a receiving touchdown.