NY Giants Host Cowboys To Kick Off NFL Season

By: Michael Robinson | Friday, August 31, 2012

The New York Giants start the defense of their Super Bowl title and kick off another exciting NFL football season when they host the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday.

The Don Best Pro Odds screen has the Giants as 4-point favorites after opening at three. The total is 46  and NBC will have the national broadcast from MetLife Stadium at 8:30 p.m. (ET). The rest of the league will wait to play until Sunday.

Injuries to Dallas are a big part of the spread move. Tight end Jason Witten (spleen) and receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) are both questionable. Austin has said that he will play, while the tea leaves point towards Witten being out.

Nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle) and guard Phil Costa (back) are listed as questionable as well. Dallas did get some insurance along the offensive line by acquiring Ryan Cook from Miami. He can provide depth at both guard and center.

Tony Romo may be the most scrutinized quarterback in the league. The Cowboys were seventh in the league in passing last year (263 YPG) and 11th in total yards (375.5 YPG), but just 15th in points (23.1 PPG).

The now 32-year-old Romo needs to make the big play at crucial times, instead of an interception or fumble.  There can be no excuses at this point in his career even if his security-blanket Witten is out and replaced by John Phillips.

Romo should get help from running back DeMarco Murray, although the offensive line is pretty shaky overall. The defense (14th last year in total yards) should be better in the second year under coordinator Rob Ryan, with two new cornerbacks in free agent Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne.

New York is trying to become the first team to repeat as NFL champs since the 2004 New England Patriots. It won’t be easy with the dreaded 'Super Bowl hangover,' but the team does have the pieces in place to at least make a playoff run.

Eli Manning isn’t quite as good in the regular season as he is in the playoffs. His quarterback rating of 92.9 last year ranked seventh. Receiver Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard are missing from his arsenal, but Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are still a very good duo.

The rushing attack added first-round rookie David Wilson to incumbent Ahmad Bradshaw. The defense gave up a lot of passing yards in the regular season before clamping down when needed in the playoffs. Getting pressure on Romo early and often should be on the agenda with the vaunted pass rush against Dallas’ line.

The Giants have several injuries of their own, but they proved they can find guys to step up in their Super Bowl run last year. Corner Prince Amukamara (ankle) is expected out Wednesday as is linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring) and others. Check the injury report for the latest.

This is always a great matchup and it’s kind of sad there will only be one regular season game between the teams remaining.

The Giants won and covered both meetings last year, including coming back from a 34-22 deficit with two TDs in the final 3:14 in Dallas. They are 5-1 ATS in the last six overall and the ‘over’ is 5-1 in those contests.

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