After seven long months of being deprived of meaningful NFL action, it finally returns to the Meadowlands Wednesday evening with a huge divisional clash. Last year’s surprise Super Bowl champion New York Giants will host their bitter rivals, the Dallas Cowboys.
In the ultra-competitive NFC East division, every game is crucial in their title quest and Wednesday’s match-up will be no different. Despite the fact that the Giants are the defending champions, the hunger still remains in New York as the team seems eager to avenge comments made from the Cowboys about their “fluky” Super Bowl victory. Meanwhile, Dallas seemingly always fall short of their lofty pre-season aspirations. They enter the 2012 campaign again loaded with skill and talent at many positions, but whether or not this is the season it all meshes together, remains to be seen. The clock is ticking with the core of this team, and the hot-seat is warmer than ever in Big D.
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Wednesday night will give a brief, albeit in-depth preview as to how this highly-scrutinized division will play out. Paired with the Eagles and Redskins means the easy games in the NFC East will be few and far between, and the NFL’s season-opener may already hold pivotal playoff implications come the end of December.
Cowboys vs. Giants Spread and Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys +4.0 (-110)
@ New York Giants -4.0 (-110)
Over 45.0 (-110)
Under 45.0 (-110)
Cowboys vs. Giants Pick:
The NFL certainly possesses a flare for the dramatic, and opening the 2012 season with a Giants/Cowboys battle certainly proves that. Wednesday’s battle features two of the sport’s top talents on both sides of the football and this game certainly holds the potential for some major fireworks on offense.
Dallas dropped both games last season to the Giants, but proved they could beat their rivals with a couple of close calls in 2011. For them to be successful this season, the Cowboys will have to remedy some of their ailing stars. For starters, Tony Romo will likely be forced to be without his favourite target in tight-end Jason Witten who is currently battling a spleen injury. Though Witten has proclaimed he’s fit to start, the chances remain slim he suits up Wednesday evening. Moreover, key defensive tackle Jay Ratliff will be out, while cornerback Mike Jenkins is questionable, magnifying some of Dallas’ defensive concerns.
Those holes on the Dallas defense will certainly be tough to fill against an explosive Giants attack, but New York isn’t without health issues of their own. As was the case last season, New York again remains heavily depleted in their secondary. Injuries ravaged their cornerbacks and safeties in 2011, and already in 2012 both Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara are hurting and will be absent against the likes of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. In Thomas’ case, the important cornerback is expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
Without such key personnel deep in the New York secondary, expect Tony Romo to exploit this decisive advantage downfield. If his offensive line, albeit an inexperienced one, can give the Cowboys’ quarterback the time and space needed to get in a rhythm, both Bryant and Austin could be in for big evenings against a vulnerable Giants’ pass defense. That said, it’s a huge ‘if’ when you take into account the Cowboys are going against the sport’s premier defensive line. Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul wreaked havoc in the Dallas backfield last season, and Wednesday will offer prime opportunity to re-introduce themselves to Mr. Romo. A key for the Cowboys is certainly stifling the effectiveness of the New York defensive line and keeping Romo off his back.
Despite the fact that rain remains in the forecast for Wednesday in New York, it should be mostly cleared early into game action, not affecting the offensive output of both sides. New York and Dallas possess dangerous talent at all the skill positions, while facing uncertainties on the defensive side of the football, and this is often a recipe for an abundance of points Look for Bryant and Austin to come up huge for the Cowboys, while the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks will test the make-up of Dallas’ revamped defense. The Cowboys worked hard in the off-season to improve Rob Ryan’s personnel, acquiring Brandon Carr and drafting Morris Claiborne. While both are immensely talented and promising players, opening a season in a new environment against an aerial attack like the Giants won’t be easy to stop.
Expect another thrilling season-opening encounter Wednesday evening. Both teams enter hungry, primed to gain the upper-hand in the NFC East divisional race against a bitter rival. With the wealth of defensive injuries and uncertainty plaguing both sides, combined with the offensive talent in this game, the Over 45 points stands out as a solid play in this contest. Add in the fact that the rain and messy weather should be cleared by kick-off time, the conditions should be ideal for point scoring. Five of the last six meetings between these teams have sailed over the number, and the 2012 season opener should be no different. Look for an exciting, offensive outburst from both sides, in what promises to be a high-scoring but tight encounter.
PICK: Over 45 (-110)