Week 1: New York Giants Vs. Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackEli Manning is coming off his second Super Bowl MVP season, and completed the season sweep of the Cowboys last year. His big-game ability is unquestioned, but he could be more consistent during the regular season.The heat is on Tony Romo to up his performance level this year. Jerry Jones has run out of patience with him and if Romo is not a playoff winner this year, his career in Dallas will come to an end.
- OffenseVictor Cruz should be able to pick up from where he left off because he is explosive and is much stronger than he appears. Hakeem Nicks is nearly as good and the Giants will get much more from running back Ahmad Bradshaw than they did a year ago.The Cowboys have a nice looking receiving crew led by wideouts Dez Bryant and Isaac Austin along with tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys need better play from the offensive line to get more out of the running game.
- DefenseThe Giants have the best front four in the NFL and Jason Pierre-Paul should be unstoppable this season. Throw in Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and the Giants become a quarterback’s nightmare. While the secondary is decent, the linebackers are just ordinary.The hangover from last year will not be easy for the Cowboys to get past. However, they have perhaps the best defensive player in the league in linebacker DeMarcus Ware (19 ½ sacks last year). The Cowboys need more from nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who made the Pro Bowl on reputation a year ago and did not have a good season.
- Special TeamsSpecial teams played a huge role for the Giants in their championship run during the postseason. Steve Weatherford gets excellent distance and hang time on his punts.The Cowboys were pleased with their coverage teams a year ago, and they also have confidence in placekicker Dan Bailey. The return game is below average and that’s not likely to change if Bryant doesn’t get a chance to return punts.
The Giants didn’t look like a championship team until the final two weeks of the regular season last year. Tom Coughlin wants to see them get off to a much better start. The Cowboys are desperate to take charge in the NFC East and this would be a great time to assert themselves. Both teams have equal motivation, but the Giants have better weapons.