The NFL kicked off last week, and the action continues to heat up in Week 2. The Cowboys host the Giants in an AFC East showdown this Sunday night. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 2 Sunday Night Football
New York Giants (19.75) at Dallas Cowboys (22.75)
DraftKings Line: Cowboys -3
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The low combined total on this game is a reflection of the Cowboys’ pathetic offensive performance in Week 1. With elite center Travis Frederick (illness) out, Ezekiel Elliott managed just 86 YFS on 18 touches against a Panthers team that was missing its second-best LB, Thomas Davis.
Frederick is not expected to play in Week 2 either. Then, the Giants will be without one of their top linebackers in Olivier Vernon (ankle). Elliott burned the G-Men for 140 YFS on 29 touches in Week 1 last season, but he’s averaging just 3.85 YPC over three career meetings against a Giants team that can afford to stack the box because of the strong play of their cornerbacks in single coverage. The weak state of the Cowboys’ passing attack makes it easy for opponents to sell out in an attempt to stop the run.
The Giants were middling against the run last year, allowing 3.8 YPC and a below-average 12 rushing scores. They did rank 26th in DVOA rush defense and are exploitable with Vernon out and new ILB Alec Ogletree struggling. But the Cowboys’ rushing attack is not as potent as in years past with Frederick out. Thus, taking Dallas (-3) on the strength of that advantage may be unwise.
The Cowboys’ combination of rookie Michael Gallup and former Jaguars WR Allen Hurns did little to threaten the Panthers’ secondary in Week 1. Cole Beasley saw a team-high eight targets. He was the only receiver other than Hurns (59%) to play on over half the team’s offensive snaps. The G-Men ranked seventh in yards allowed per pass even though they gave up the second-most passing YPG (251.4) last season. Accordingly, Beasley is a good bet to catch five-plus balls in the short areas of the field. His receptions total may be worth a Prop Bet. Elliott is the only reliable fantasy asset for the Cowboys, but Beasley is a reasonable Cash play in DFS contests and a solid option in Showdown contests on DraftKings.
With Jason Witten retired, Geoff Swain is handling most of the receiving responsibilities at TE. He’s a punt play in DFS contests. Yet Dak Prescott continues to struggle and appears an inferior fantasy option to Eli Manning because of the Giants’ superior receiving corps.
With Odell Beckham Jr. back healthy to join rising stars Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, the Giants have a plethora of weapons available for Manning.
That’s not even mentioning Rookie of the Year candidate Saquon Barkley. He broke a 68-yard run to nearly spur a comeback win over the favored Jaguars last week. There is enough talent on the Giants’ offense to make life difficult for Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli.
Now, in the past, Marinelli has devised a scheme to contain Beckham. If that’s the case on Sunday night, we could see a big performance from Shepard or Engram. The Cowboys ranked 25th in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs and allowed the 11th-most receptions to oversized targets last season. Engram is extremely fast for a TE and should come free over the middle of the field against Marinelli’s zone coverages.
While Eli Manning continues to decline at age 37, he’s capable of putting up solid stat lines in divisional tilts. Manning averaged 245.5 passing YPG with 8 TDs and 7 INT over six meetings with NFC East foes last season. He’s a boom-bust option for the G-Men, and the result of this game will almost certainly hinge on his accuracy and ball security.
The Cowboys’ defense will have an advantage in the trenches, especially against RT Ereck Flowers. DeMarcus Lawrence should be able to pressure Manning from that side. Finally, Sean Lee is one of the best all-around LBs in football, lowering the ceiling for Barkley in his second NFL game.
Despite Lee’s ball-hawking presence, the Cowboys appear vulnerable to opposing TEs and RBs in the intermediate passing game. Barkley flashed ability as a receiver while playing on 77.5 percent of offensive snaps and seeing six targets in Week 1. He produced against the Jaguars defense and could make a huge difference in a hard-fought divisional game.
If the Giants are able to control the coverage through steady gains from Barkley and limit situations where Manning needs to force the ball into tight coverage, they will win this game outright. It’s a bonus that you get the 3 points here.