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Week 1 Preview: Giants at Cowboys

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New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas – TV: NBC

*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

*Keys to the game: The Cowboys go for a fifth consecutive win over the Giants and want to get there with a familiar formula – grinding, ball-control running game – while introducing new variables to the equation in the form of RBs Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden. Replacing RB DeMarco Murray is a tall task, but the Giants are thrilled to see him go. Controlling the line of scrimmage also prevents Dallas from overburdening fragile QB Tony Romo, who whipped seven touchdowns and averaged more than 11 yards per completion in two wins over the Giants last season.

The Giants hope to pair slot WR Victor Cruz, who is dealing with a nagging calf injury, with Eli Manning’s new favorite weapon, Odell Beckham Jr., who made the highlight reel one-handed grab as a rookie against the Cowboys. Manning should have time to throw underneath as Dallas’ cover-2 lacks a great pass rusher. But behind a worrisome offensive line, the challenge becomes consistently converting on the ground.

*Matchup to watch – Giants LT Ereck Flowers vs. Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence: Projected as a better right tackle by NFLDraftScout.com, Flowers is on the left side in the first game of his NFL career against Lawrence, whom the Cowboys traded up to draft in the second round of the 2014 draft. Lawrence came on late last season and is viewed as the top pass rusher on the Cowboys’ roster beyond suspended DE Greg Hardy.

*Player spotlight – Cowboys LB Sean Lee: Lee missed all of last season with a knee injury after an injury-shortened 2013 and will play weak-side linebacker for the first time, helping shadow Giants TE Larry Donnell and new RB Shane Vereen.

*Fast facts: Only five players from the Giants’ Super Bowl win in 2011 are on the Week 1 roster. … Murray had 392 carries for the Cowboys last season. Randle, his primary backup and possible starter over McFadden, had 51.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

With Dallas depending on a ragtag secondary, opponents will never be all the way out of games until the latest stages, but the Cowboys are able to stand behind a powder keg offensive line to dictate the outcome against the undermanned Giants.

*Our pick: Cowboys 34-24.


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