News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 Preview: Giants at Cowboys

By PFF Analysis Team
Sep 10, 2017

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 14: Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants celebrates with teammate Bobby Hart #68 after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 14, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.

Coverage by: Ryan A. Smith

Matchup: New York Giants offense vs. Dallas Cowboys defense

  • OT Bobby Hart vs. Edge DeMarcus Lawrence – After surrendering 46 total pressures last season and ranking 51st of 74 tackles in pass-blocking efficiency (93.4), Hart allowed zero pressures this preseason over 49 pass blocks. Lawrence has been more of a run defender than pass-rusher during his career. In 2016, he ranked 42nd of 53 4-3 DEs in pass rush productivity (6.5) accumulating just 20 total pressures.

  • WR Sterling Shepard  vs. CB Byron Jones – Last season Shepard led the NFL with eight touchdowns from the slot (where he ran 86.1 percent of his routes). Bryon Jones on the other hand allowed the third-best yards per cover snap in the NFL out of the slot last season (0.68) and should limit the yards after catch Shepard can get if he catches the ball. Jones only allowed 57 YAC in 2016, which ranked seventh among slot cornerbacks.
  • TE Evan Engram vs. LB Sean Lee – This preseason Engram was utilized not only as an inline tight end (65 percent), but also out of the backfield (17 percent) and as a wide receiver (18 percent). Sean Lee ranked fifth in coverage grade among linebackers last season (85.2) and should give Engram a great battle in the pass game.

Coverage by: Ryan A. Smith

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys offense vs. New York Giants defense

  • Travis Frederick vs. DI Damon Harrison – One of the matchups of the season – Damon Harrison is the class of the NFL against the run (92.5 run defense grade ranked first among DI) and Travis Fredrick is the best reach-blocking center in the NFL. This is where to look every single run play. Frederick is also stellar in pass blocking as well.

  • RT La’el Collins vs. Edge Jason Pierre-Paul – Collins moves from left guard to right tackle this season and showed what made him special in college at OT. His 71.0 overall grade in the preseason ranked 43rd among tackles. Pierre-Paul had a quietly productive season last year before going down to injury (86.3 overall grade ranked 12th among edge defenders).
  • WR Dez Bryant vs. CB Janoris Jenkins – A battle that had everyone talking all offseason, Janoris Jenkins had a career year and shut Dez Bryant down. On seven targets, Jenkins allowed just one reception for ten yards – which he forced a fumble on, he also had a pass defensed and an interception. Bryant is coming off a down year from his standards, his 1.93 yards per route run ranked 24th of 96 WRs in 2016.

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