The 2012 National Football League season picks up on Wednesday, September 5 where last year's regular season left off for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, at MetLife Stadium in a primetime match-up (8:30 p.m. EST). Of course, the Giants defeated the Cowboys that night, won the NFC East and went on to win Super Bowl XLVI. The Cowboys simply went home.
Can the Cowboys turn the tables this year against the Giants? Big Blue has dominated the series over the last few years, but the gap between these two teams isn't very wide. Like the Giants, Dallas has a talented roster with play-makers on both sides of the ball. However, for the Giants, the game may ride on these five players not named Eli Manning or Victor Cruz.
Domenik Hixon (WR) -- The Cowboys bolstered their secondary in the offseason to compete with the Giants' high-powered passing game. As such, Dallas will try to take away big-play receivers Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. But will they forget about Hixon, who officially starts the season as the No. 3 guy? Look for him to make a big grab, maybe even a touchdown, in what figures to be a high-scoring game.
Michael Coe (CB) -- Prince Amukamara likely is out and Jayron Hosley (turf toe) is banged up, leaving a target on Coe, who started training camp way down on the depth chart. Now he'll be getting his first career start opposite Corey Webster. The Giants allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL last season at 4,082 -- and Dallas knows it. Expect Romo to take a few shots in Coe's direction.
Martellus Bennett (TE) -- When training camp started, there were question marks surrounding the tight end position. The Giants may have found an answer in Bennett. The former Cowboy had seven catches for 49 yards and one touchdown in the preseason. Incidentally, Manning has thrown 12 touchdown passes to his tight ends over the last two seasons.
David Wilson (RB) -- Ahmad Bradshaw is the No. 1 running back on the depth chart, but the shifty Wilson is a big-play threat out of the backfield. The Giants' first round pick started the final two games of the preseason and finished as the team's leading rusher overall. The Cowboys must respect the Giants' deep threats, which could set up a long run for Wilson.
Jason Pierre-Paul (DE) -- Can Pierre-Paul build on last year's breakout season? He was a human wrecking ball in 2011 with 16.5 sacks and 86 tackles. And he destroyed Dallas. In week 14 against the Cowboys, his destructive powers were on full display, as he made eight tackles with two sacks and blocked a potential game-tying field goal in the closing seconds. Get ready, Romo!
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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