While every member of the Giants who is back following last season's disappointing playoff loss to Green Bay is hungry to earn another shot in the tournament, Beckham's internal drive has been burning since one of the worst nights of his otherwise fantastic football life. Only one time since the 2012 season has the winning team done so by more than a touchdown. The second meeting was in the midst of a mini end-of-year slump.
Good, somewhat available options for replacing Beckham in your lineup include: Sterling Shepard and Brandon Coleman. The Giants' defensive line was built to compete against the Cowboys' offensive line.
Beckham caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The Cowboys hold a comfortable advantage overall (62-46-2), but the Giants have won three straight. Add in the fact that NY seems to have improved in the offseason, and it looks like they might spoil the Cowboys plans for a winning home opener.
Remember that the Giants swept the Cowboys a year ago, and that was when Dallas didn't have the distraction of the Elliott suspension hanging over their heads. Sustaining that elite pace will be hard, but the team's play over the last half of the prior year lends hope. The team managed just 76 total points in those four games, raising some questions about the offense, but there just practice games. Before that Dallas reeled off five consecutive victories over the Giants. With him, Eli Manning has a trusted target back on the field, the player whose ascension to the NFL's most rarefied air came against these same Cowboys in the form of an unforgettable one-handed sideline grab.
Odell Beckham is unlikely to play against the Cowboys. Their top-ranked rush defense should stymie a Giants running attack that's hardly intimidating.
But the availability of Ezekiel Elliott, along with the momentum it brings the Cowboys may be just too much to overcome.
When the Cowboys' projected starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens went down in the preseason with a right knee injury, all eyes turned to Jaylon Smith, a second-year pro out of Notre Dame.
- Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network.