Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

2015 NFL Season Gets Underway: Giants at Cowboys Sunday Night

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

2015 NFL Season Gets Underway: Giants at Cowboys Sunday Night

Article excerpt

A battle of division rivals takes center stage as "Sunday Night Football" kicks off this week with the New York Giants traveling to AT&T Stadium in Dallas to take on Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

A new season gives the Giants a chance to wipe the slate clean after a very disappointing 2014 season that saw the team finish third in the NFC East and 6-10 overall. The team has rewarded its franchise quarterback, giving Eli Manning a four-year, $84 million contract extension that includes $65 million in guaranteed money, meaning the pressure is now on for head coach Tom Coughlin to deliver. A second consecutive disappointing season could spell the end of the Coughlin era in New York.

Sunday night, New York will look to Manning and the passing game to be the difference maker against the Cowboys. The team finished seventh in the NFL in passing yards last season and 12th in terms of efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.com. One of the main reasons for their success was Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr., who wowed fans with his spectacular one-handed catches. Beckham caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns and surprisingly never exceeded 44 yards receiving in his first three games, putting his tremendous production into even more impressive context.

The question for Sunday will be if the Giants defense, which was so porous last season, can contain the running and passing threats of the Cowboys. The defensive line for the Giants may have gotten to opposing quarterbacks 47 times last season, good for fourth in the league. But that same line could not stop the run whatsoever, giving up the third-most yards and the most yards per rush (4.9). They will be put to the test when they face the exceptional Cowboys offensive line.

Dallas enters the new season riding high after their 12-4 NFC East-winning campaign. That, despite making some major changes in the offseason, the most notable being the loss of star running back DeMarco Murray. Faced with the choice between wide receiver Dez Bryant and Murray, owner Jerry Jones and his staff elected to go the way of the pass and let the NFL's leading rusher walk this offseason. …

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