The NFL is promoting big-time rivalries in Week 1 of the 2019-20 season. Thursday Night Football kicked things off with the Packers and the Bears warring at Soldier Field. Sunday’s battle between New England and Pittsburgh is being heralded as an ultimate modern-era clash of champions.
I’m still partial to the NFC East, though, having grown-up in an NFC East household. Patriots vs Steelers is a neato match-up and I’m never opposed to watching the Monsters of the Midway – but it’s an old Blue vs Silver relationship that feels more interesting than all other Sunday pairings.
The Shield’s theme will continue with the defending NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys hosting the New York Giants at Jerry World. New York has 2 things going against it from the very start of anyone’s fair handicap, having gone a dismal 5-11 in 2018 and losing Odell Beckham Jr. in the trade with the Cleveland Browns.
Arguably, the Big Blue enhanced its depth chart with the whopping trade, and it would be no shock to see the Giants getting 2-to-1 prices in Las Vegas considering the longstanding divisional feud between franchises. New York is not 2-to-1, however, but close to 3-to-1 as Dallas takes (-340) wagers at Bovada Sportsbook. The Cowboys stand as a (-340) pick on the moneyline and more than a TD favorite on the spread.
It’s not as if the Giants aren’t retooling along with much of the league in ‘19. In fact, the seeds of a dominant OL could be taking shape with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez ably manning the guard position. That’s a pretty good direction to go in considering Saquon Barkley’s immense talent at tailback.
Golden Tate could help the Big Apple out at WR, but he won’t play the 1st 4 games of 2019. There’s also – for the 1st time in maybe forever – serious uncertainty about who will be taking snaps for the Giants at the end of this regular season, with ex-Duke rookie Daniel Jones pushing Eli Manning throughout the preseason.
Rookie Dexter Lawrence also arrives fresh from Clemson’s 2018-19 “Power Rangers” unit, along with 1st-rounder Deandre Baker at corner.
Zeke Won’t Miss a Week…at Least to a Holdout
Ezekiel Elliott has signed on the dotted line in Big D, helping to keep the Dallas Cowboys’ moneyline for Sunday afternoon nice and short. Tony Pollard out of Memphis should also be a handy addition to Jason Garrett’s old-school NFL rush offense.
Pollard rushed for 84 yards on 15 carries with a TD scored this preseason.
Jerry Jones hasn’t sat on his laurels in the offseason any more than Big Blue brass. Former Green Bay Packer wideout Randall Cobb arrives fresh to the squad as well as Robert Quinn, but the defense won’t enjoy the latter’s services until Week 3.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint to Wild Card Week and beyond – but if it looked like Week 1 would be an extended preseason for the ‘Boys the Elliott deal has changed that.
Jason Witten also returns after a brief retirement, just another intriguing weapon on a team full of potential game-breakers.
Who I Like on the Point Spread and Moneyline in Week 1
Point spread bettors should try New York at (+7.5), since the 1st week of any National Football League season is just as hard for bookmakers and the betting public to predict as do the crew around an office water cooler.
It’s never a bad idea to predict a tight result in a divisional game, even though the New York Giants have only beaten the Silver Star 3 times since 2014.
With serious gamblers for whom only the moneyline will do, the play has to be the Cowboys on the ML no matter how short the line is – Dallas is trending-upward and has built a well-stacked roster at key positions, and Garrett is the type of skipper who often wins the battles he is supposed to.
Dak Prescott might have a few more tough, gritty wars with opposing star QBs in 2019…just as it happened between Dak and Drew Brees in prime-time last season. But speaking of how matters lie at the QB position, the New York Giants are in-transition between an old pro and a young lion (or Blue Devil) while the Cowboys feel like they’re all set, and even have a QB in Prescott who can run for 1st downs more adeptly than either of the signal-callers Pat Shurmur will be pondering over this year.
I’m liking the Cowboys to win by a TD, which makes the point-spread as much of a toss-up line as those “coin flip prop bets” at the Super Bowl.
But the likely effectiveness and depth of the Dallas running game should be able to overcome the big-play threat of Barkley and an opposing offense that is still putting the pieces together. Jerry’s “kids” are a near-lock to win if not by a large margin.
Make a safe 2-unit wager on the hosts or make the Cowboys part of a Sunday parlay of NFL favorites.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.