The time for talking is (thankfully) done. Following one final Super Bowl XLVI celebration scheduled to take place at MetLife Stadium at around 8:00 pm ET, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will kick off in a game that is about much more than just the start of the 2012 National Football League regular season. All pageantry and hype aside, Wednesday night's game features two division rivals facing off in a contest that could, several months down the road, make or break the playoff hopes of one of those teams. What should make this game fun for casual viewers is that these two rosters really don't like each other.
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3 thoughts heading into Cowboys at Giants: Marked man
The worst kept secret heading into the Week 1 showdown between Dallas and New York is that the Cowboys will be going after cornerback Michael Coe early and often. With Terrell Thomas set to miss his second straight season due to injury and Prince Amukamara out for at least one week because of a high ankle sprain, Coe will get the first CB start of his NFL career. He's no stranger to playing the position for the Giants, as he made appearances in ten games during the 2011 campaign before a shoulder injury ended his season in late November. He had ten total tackles, nine of them solo, last year.
It's somewhat false to suggest that Coe is "replacing" Thomas and/or Amukamara. The fact is that New York defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will rotate several players throughout the team's secondary. Even Antrel Rolle will likely play a few downs while in the CB role. Coe will certainly find himself on the field during multiple make-or-break downs, and you can bet that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo will look Coe's way on at least one of those plays.
No pressure for the five-year defensive back.
3 thoughts heading into Cowboys at Giants: Cruuuuuuuuuuuz
Victor Cruz is now officially a star, a play-maker who undoubtedly will be treated like a number one WR by opposing defenses throughout the season, starting on Wednesday night. With Hakeem Nicks out all preseason because of a broken foot, the relationship between QB Eli Manning and the speedy wide-out grew even greater than what we saw last fall, and Manning targeted Cruz throughout preseason games last month. It is possible, however, that Cruz's biggest impact of the game could be the chances he helps create for his fellow WR.
All reports are that Nicks is playing on Wednesday night. How many downs he sees is yet to be determined. A few noteworthy plays made by Cruz early on in the game coupled with Nicks being a non-factor or even spending much of the first half on the sideline could land New York's true No. 1 WR with a favorable match-up during the final 30 minutes of play. If Nicks is able to turn the burners on just once during such a scenario, than he and not Cruz could be the recipient of a home run ball from Manning, a pass that changes the tone and maybe even the outcome of the contest.
3 thoughts heading into Cowboys at Giants: Why I favor the Giants
The New York o-line is depleted at the start of the season. I get that, and I also get that Manning is going to get hit on Wednesday. Romo, who probably has nightmares that involve the QB running for his life from blue monsters, won't be in for an easy night. Forget the fact that the Giants pass rush is, on paper, the best in the league. That unit appeared to be in midseason form throughout August, so much so that some fans and analysts are suggesting that Jason Pierre-Paul could finish the season with 30 sacks.
Something about seeing the star on the Dallas helmet lights a fire under the New York defense. Brandon Jacobs and his hatred for all things Cowboys may be gone, but Justin Tuck isn't. Tuck has made his feelings on the 'Boys very clear whenever asked about the subject, and you can be sure that he has instilled a similar attitude into teammates such as JPP. In short, Tuck, JPP and others are getting to Romo more than once on Wednesday.
Cowboys at Giants: Prediction
There are two things that you can (hopefully) count on every September: The Giants are going to play very good football during the opening stages of the season, and the defending Super Bowl champs never lose the NBC midweek prime time opener. I see Manning finding the end zone a couple of times, LT field goals on both sides of the halftime break, and the Giants beginning the season with a 23-13 win.