Three Giants writers debate which division rival the Giants best match up with:
Which NFC East team does the Giants' talent best match up with heading into the 2017 season?
I think you have to go with the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas' offense is predicated on the running game, and the Giants have an excellent front on defense. Snacks Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Jason Pierre-Paul, spare the first half of their second game against the Cowboys, contained Ezekiel Elliott. The Giants also have excellent cover corners in Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to try and match up with Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley.
Defensively, the Cowboys will have three new players in the secondary with Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Barry Church all leaving in free agency. Many of their new contributors could be rookies with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods being added in the draft. The Giants explosive wide receiver corps should have the advantage there.
Up front, Dallas drafted Taco Charlton in the first round, but they still don't have the type of dynamic outside pass rushers that can normally disrupt the Giants offensive line and Eli Manning's timing. The Giants beat Dallas both times they played last year, handing the Cowboys two of the three losses. They did that because the matchup is good. Styles make fights and it is no different in a football game.
The Giants did not sweep the Dallas Cowboys (13-3) last season by accident - it was because their strengths were the perfect fit for the Cowboys' weaknesses, so the debate ends there. And the edge should be even more true this season. Dallas may have as many as six new starters on defense while the Giants expect to have a more explosive and balanced offense. On the flip side, Dallas has retooled its offensive line a bit in front of sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott while the Giants return the bulk of their stout defense, which suffocates the run and pressure the quarterback.
The main strength of the Giants' defense is its ability to stop the run and the one team that looks to pound the ball on the ground in the NFC East more so than the others is the Cowboys. Dallas leans heavily on its offensive line and running back Ezekiel Elliot to set the tone and, last offseason, the Giants bolstered their defensive line, with the additions of Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison, to, specifically, better handle a team like Dallas. The Cowboys also showcase plenty of weapons in the passing game but New York's secondary isn't too shabby especially when you take into consideration how Janoris Jenkins fared against Dez Bryant in two meetings in 2016. If there's any Cowboys' player that has the Giants' number it's Jason Witten, who has posted numerous big games against New York throughout his career, but aside from the veteran tight end, I think the Giants match up quite nicely with Dallas' offensive personnel.
As far as the other side of the ball goes, compared to the Eagles and the Redskins, the Cowboys' pass rush has struggled much more to get to the quarterback in recent history. Part of that is injuries and suspensions for some of their key players but when you combine that with a secondary that will have several new faces at corner and safety, at least on paper, that's a favorable match up for Eli Manning and company given the weapons the Giants showcase at wide receiver. Similar to New York, Dallas' main strength on defense is stopping the run (first in the NFL vs the run in 2016 – allowed just 84 yards per game) thanks to the presence of versatile linebacker Sean Lee but with New York still looking for more consistency on the ground, against Dallas, the Giants tend to lean heavily on Manning's arm.