The third week of the NFL season wraps up on Monday night when the Dallas Cowboys take on the New York Giants. New head coach Brian Daboll has generated plenty of excitement around the Giants' surprising 2-0 start. Daboll sent a letter to Giants season ticket holders imploring fans to create a "White Out" and bring the energy for the team's first NFC East matchup of the season. Despite being unable to produce immediate progress offensively with Daniel Jones under center, Daboll has delivered in the win column. A 3-0 start would not only keep pace with the first-place Philadelphia Eagles, but it would be a strong indicator the Giants are headed in the right direction. Since the NFL merger in 1970, 75% of teams that start the season with three straight wins have reached the postseason. The Giants are currently +700 to win the NFC East at BetMGM.
The team standing in their way on Monday night has a more challenging start to the season. After losing starting quarterback Dak Prescott to injury, the Cowboys rallied around Cooper Rush in last week's upset win over the Cincinnati Bengals. With Prescott expected to miss a few more weeks, every win they can pick up in his absence is a huge plus. Dallas entered the season as the favorite to win the NFC East and now finds itself an underdog against the rebuilding Giants.
Is the market overvaluing New York's 2-0 start? Are the Cowboys getting enough credit after a big win against the defending AFC champions? I think both are likely true, and I tailored my two best bets around Dallas's biggest advantage in this game.
Dallas Cowboys (+1) over New York Giants
Week 3's prime-time slate hasn't shown us much offensive firepower, and we should all brace ourselves for more of the same on Monday night. Only seven of 47 games this season have closed with a total under 41 points, and with this one currently 39 at BetMGM, it's likely to become the eighth. Both teams are a combined 4-0 to the under, with neither team scoring more than 21 points this season.
There are a few reasons I bet Dallas to come away with a road win as a small underdog. In lower-scoring games, converting in the red zone is critical. Neither offense is going to have many opportunities, so the ability to convert those chances into touchdowns is huge. Dallas was 2-for-2 in the red zone against Cincinnati last week. Even if WR Michael Gallup is on a snap count, his size and catch radius gives Rush another solid red-zone target. The Giants' defense allowed 6.8 yards per rush to Christian McCaffrey last week and ranks 28th in rush EPA as well. If Dallas can get the running game going with Zeke Elliot and Tony Pollard, it will be much easier to convert those red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. As I get into my second bet, I will explain why the New York offense doesn't have a similar path to points.
New York Giants team total under 19.5
The Giants' new-look offense has the same old results. After two games, their 37.4% offensive success rate ranks 31st, lower than every team but the Chicago Bears. Jones has historically struggled under pressure, and he should see plenty of it from the opening whistle with Cowboys LB Micah Parsons lining up on the other side. Parsons has four sacks on the season, and the Giants offensive line ranks at the bottom of the league (30th) in adjusted sack percentage allowed. Daboll will have to find ways to get the ball out of Jones' hands quickly, or the packed crowd at MetLife Stadium will grow impatient. Jones has been sacked eight times in two games and has a propensity to cough up the football when under duress. He lost a fumble when sacked this season against the Titans, and I am less confident in him protecting the ball with Parsons hunting him down. The Cowboys' defense has held opponents to less than 20 points so far this year, and I am comfortable betting this Giants offense won't be the first to get there. Per Josh Appelbaum of VSiN, divisional unders are 14-3 (72%), giving more support to a lower-than-average offensive output from both teams.