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Giants Game Preview

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Game Preview: NFC East race begins right out of the gate


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – If Sunday Night Football is the NFL's premier weekly television event, then NFC East teams are its most frequent stars.

When the Giants open their season by hosting the Dallas Cowboys in MetLife Stadium, it will be the teams' 15th showdown on a Sunday night. That will tie another rivalry in the division – Dallas vs. Philadelphia – for the most Sunday night meetings. The deadlock will last exactly three months; on Sunday night, Dec. 10, the Cowboys and Eagles will square off in Dallas.

The Giants are perfectly willing to be showcased in prime time against their division rivals, but what they most crave is more success against Dallas, in the division, and at night. And in this case, in a season opener vs. the Cowboys.

Last year, Brian Daboll's first as head coach, they enjoyed their most successful season in six years, earning a wild card playoff berth with a 9-7-1 record and defeating Minnesota in the first round of the postseason.

But the metrics listed above were not in their favor. They lost both games to the Cowboys, including on a Monday night at home, and have lost four in a row and 11 of the last 12 meetings with Dallas. Including their loss to Philadelphia in a divisional playoff game, the Giants were 1-5-1 vs. NFC East opponents. Both the victory and the tie were against Washington.

When the Giants defeated the Commanders in FedExField on Dec. 18, 2022, they broke an 11-game losing streak in prime-time games. Alas, their playoff loss to the Eagles was on a Saturday night.

The Giants are 6-8 vs. Dallas on Sunday night. They are 1-9 in season opening games against the Cowboys, including 0-2 at home (0-1 at MetLife).

Clearly, the Giants hope to reverse numerous statistical trends beginning Sunday. The easiest path to the playoffs is with a division title, which they haven't earned since 2011.

"The division is big," left tackle Andrew Thomas said. "We have a very talented division; three teams last year went to the playoffs from our division. So, if you want to go to where we want to be, you got to beat the teams in this division. It's not an easy thing, but that's what we're working all offseason for and training camp and hopefully we start off well."

Running back Saquon Barkley rushed for 140 yards in two games vs. the Cowboys last season but was held to 39 yards on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

"It's a tough team, it's a great team," Barkley said. "It's always a tough challenge when you go against Dallas. We know how good the NFC East is and it's important to get (off to) a fast start. That's just how the season goes. You see how helpful it was to us last year (when the Giants won six of their first seven games). But it's going to be a tough game, like I said, and I feel like we've got a great game plan. At the end of the day, we've got to go out there and execute."

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

While many have suggested this week's game is significant because it's the season opener against a division team that has given the Giants fits and is prime time, coach Brian Daboll pointedly did not. He stuck to the mantra he vigilantly maintains; each game is important because it's the next one.

"We got 17 games," Daboll said. "We are locked on this one. That's how we always are. … I think we're focused on this week and trying to get ready for a really good team."

Daboll also disavows the notion that the Giants can derive momentum from their successful 2022 season.

"I don't really think what happened last year or any other game really has any bearing on this game," Daboll said. "You take a look at it, you look at the players they still have, you look at their schemes. Obviously, they have the same defensive coordinator (Dan Quinn), but again it's a new season, there will be a bunch of new stuff that we will have to adjust to, and we've got to focus on ourselves and make sure we are ready to go."

"I think it starts over for us," quarterback Daniel Jones said. "We made progress last year and a lot of guys are back this year, but we also have a lot of new faces and a different group of guys, so it starts over. Our identity, what we do as a group, starts over so we've got to go out and play well and we're prepared to do that."

When the Gants won their opener in Tennessee in Daboll's debut last season, it ended their five-game losing streak on Kickoff Weekend. It can be argued that the stakes will be higher on Sunday because of the opponent and because they play just four home games before Thanksgiving and eight all season (as opposed to nine road games).

"All of these divisional games are big, for sure," Jones said. "It means a lot, so it's a big opportunity for us and we'll be ready to go. It's a big game because it's the first game, it's a big game because it's a divisional game and it's the next game."

It was suggested to Barkley this week that the next step in the Giants' ascension is to start beating the Cowboys and Eagles.

"I think that's a way you can view that, but for us and for myself, it's important to take that next step because that's the game that we have this week," Barkley said. "That's the mindset and the focus that we have, that's the opponent that we have. I understand that we weren't able to beat Dallas and Philly last year, but that was last year. It's a whole new year. We've got a great opportunity in front of us, and we've got to take advantage of it."

*The Giants are 51-42-5 in season openers, 51-44-3 in home openers, including 4-9 in MetLife, and 17-15 in season-opening home games (1-4 in MetLife). Dallas is 39-23-1 in season openers, including 20-13 on the road.

*The Giants are 23-31-1 on Sunday night, including 11-13 at home and 5-3 in MetLife.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.


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