What a way to start Sunday Night Football with a divisional rivalry game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. These games between the two are always important, as making the playoffs usually comes down to winning this game. This game in Dallas has been a house of horrors for Tony Romo who has come up short again and again against the Giants. Is it finally time that Romo gets over the hump and picks up a much needed win for the Cowboys? Let’s look a little closer into this one and try and nail home a pick for SNF in week 1.
Giants vs. Cowboys Betting Odds:
New York Giants +3 (-105)
@ Dallas Cowboys -3 (-115)
Under 50 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Giants vs. Cowboys Pick:
Tony Romo vowed in the offseason to be a better team player and spend more time dissecting film instead of working on his golf game. There weren’t many reports of Romo hanging out on the golf course as much as previous years, so perhaps he has stayed true to that commitment. This is a BIG game for Romo, after another failed season in 2012. He needs to show Cowboys’ fans that he is capable of taking this team deep in the playoffs. Forget about just making the playoffs, Romo is at the point in his career where he needs to give the Cowboys a chance of making a Super Bowl. Romo nearly staged a miraculous comeback the last time he faced the Giants, coming up the length of an eyelash short as Dez Bryant came down with the ball just out of bounds. Bryant planted his hand to break his fall with an inch of it touching the white chalk, thus, deeming the play an incomplete pass. It was a heartbreaking way for the Cowboys to lose, but he has a chance to make Cowboys’ fans forget all about it Sunday night.
The Cowboys’ offense is going to look very similar to a season ago. However, the Cowboys are banking on big things from Demarco Murray. The Cowboys have made it clear they are towards a more balanced attack, with Murray handling the ball more than he has in the past. This is a good sign for Murray if he can stay healthy, as I think he is one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL. He was hampered by injuries last season, only getting in on 10 games with 161 rushes. Against a weak linebacking core of the Giants, I think Murray could be in for a very good game if the Cowboys use him accordingly. The Giants’ weak core in the middle of their defense could benefit the Cowboys’ tight ends as well. Jason Witten quietly picked up 1039 yards a season ago and I think he’ll get off to another 1000 plus season against the Giants’ slow linebackers. The Cowboys on the outside will be led by Dez Bryant. Isn’t it kind of weird that we haven’t heard anything on Bryant in the offseason? It may be different, but it is certainly good news for the Cowboys. I think if Bryant gives all he can he’ll be in for a big year.
The Giants come into Sunday losing Osi Umenyiora to free agency and then an even bigger loss in safety Stevie Brown to an injury. This injury sort of went under the radar, but I think it is a big one nonetheless. Instead the Giants will go with Ryan Mundy, a former draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008. Mundy bounced around from a starting position to sitting on the bench in his time with the Steelers. So, the addition of Mundy to the Giants doesn’t really make them any better in a sense. The injury to Brown does in fact make them worse, though. Jason Pierre-Paul will also be a big loss for the Giants if he can’t suit up Sunday night, which is looking very likely as he is listed as questionable at the moment. Believe it or not, but the Giants were ranked 31st in yards allowed in 2012. I don’t see this defense as any better than then, so it should be a problem for them against the Cowboys.
The Giants’ offense has been suffering blows on offense as well. I’m primarily speaking of the loss of running back Andre Brown, who will be sitting out for up to 8 weeks. That leaves it all up to David Wilson. A player that I like seeing run the ball, he’s effective at that, but things get dicey when he steps up in pass protection. I can see DeMarcus Ware having a big game against a rookie tackle. Certainly not a guy you want to be welcomed to the NFL by. With that said, the Giants are going to be counting on Wilson to provide much needed protection for Eli Manning. Manning will have Victor Cruz in this one, after Cruz suffered a scare in the preseason, but appears healthy and ready to go.
To answer the original question I posed at the beginning of this article, yes I believe Romo is going to pick up a much needed win in this spot. I see the Cowboys improving from last season and the Giants regressing, which should be on display Sunday night. The Giants still have the Super Bowl wins to their credit, but they are not sporting the same defense as they did back then. The biggest mismatch I see here is DeMarcus Ware vs. rookie Justin Pugh. Pugh is a solid prospect out of Syracuse, but I think Ware is going to give him a rookies’ welcome in his first start in the NFL. The Giants are also relying on a rarely used third-year guard, James Brewer, who has spent his three years mainly as a backup tackle. Romo gets this win of his chance, and all is well in Cowboy land for at least a week.
PICK: Cowboys -3 (-110)