For the seventh time in the last 12 seasons, the Giants will start their regular season schedule against their NFC East foes, the Dallas Cowboys. In those previous six season-openers against Dallas, the Giants have gone just 1-5, with the lone win coming in 2016 when Eli Manning found Victor Cruz for a fourth-quarter TD to give the Giants a narrow 20-19 victory.
So it’s safe to say the Giants hope to get off to a better start this time around.
“All of these divisional games are big, for sure,” quarterback Daniel Jones said on Tuesday afternoon. “Yeah, it means a lot. 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.”
The way the Giants’ schedule worked out this season, Big Blue won’t see another divisional opponent until Week 7 when they host the Washington Commanders. So starting strong out of the gates and making an early impact on the division is certainly on the players’ minds.
“[There’s] a little more juice, knowing this is a division team, but I think the mindset is the same for everybody,” said Dexter Lawrence. “We’ve been preparing through camp, and we’re going to prepare well this week and go out there and play football and do our best.
“I think it’s a challenge. They’re a team that – they have a lot of talent and they just keep getting more talent. They just bring that dog attitude to it. I think they have a good mindset over there, [they’re] a tough team and I think it showcases through the front, the O-line, D-line area. I’m just ready for the matchup.”
While there’s been plenty of turnover with both of these teams over the last few seasons, one constant in the Giants-Cowboys rivalry during that span has been Dallas QB Dak Prescott. Since taking over as the Cowboys’ starter as a rookie in 2016, Prescott has had the Giants’ number, going 10-2 in the regular season against them with a 23:7 TD/INT ratio and a 99.4 passer rating.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll explained on Tuesday that while the Giants have seen more than their fair share of Prescott over the years, the start of a new season -- as well as head coach Mike McCarthy now calling plays with former offensive coordinator moving on to the Los Angeles Chargers -- means the Giants can expect the unexpected on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
“Dak’s a productive quarterback,” Daboll said. “He’s got a very good skillset, he’s won a lot of games and he’s been very productive, scored a lot of points. They’ve got a good football team, so we’re going to need a really good week here of preparation.
“It’s the first game, and even in the first part of the season there are a lot of unknowns. I’ve got a lot of respect for coach McCarthy. … He’s been doing this a long time, has a good track record, been very successful. What he’s choosing to call and how he’s calling it, we won’t know that until Sunday.”
If an experienced Giants-Cowboys participant like Prescott is on one side of the rivalry spectrum, Darren Waller is one the opposite end. Waller’s played seven NFL seasons, so he knows how these divisional games tend to shake out, but the newly acquired tight end is about to step into Giants-Cowboys for the first time.
“Growing up in a house where my parents were NFC East fans, I know the history,” Waller said, as he grew up in a house of Giants fans. “I know how heated and competitive these games have been over the years, and I know what I’m about to step into on Sunday, and I’m excited to take the field.”