By Zach Walker
No more messing around, finding out who’s going to make the roster, who’s on the bubble, it’s game time and it’s time to straighten up. Every year it’s about whether or not the Cowboys make the playoffs, that’s all that people care about, if the Cowboys are good enough to make the playoffs. Well, they are. They have been for every year Tony Romo has led them into Week 1. It’s just all down to the finish. But I think I’m looking a little too far ahead. Last year’s opener versus the Giants was one the few complete games the Cowboys rolled out, and they spoiled the night for the then defending Super Bowl champions, a game which until the Cowboys won, was always won by the defending champs. The next meeting would not go so smoothly, Romo had four interceptions, including an absolutely epic play by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. But in keeping with Giants versus Cowboys tradition, the Cowboys would at least surge back and get the game back within reach, unfortunately the hand that reached was a pinky’s width to large, but what a play. The height and rotation that Dez Bryant achieved on the grab that would be reversed was epic, but still no dice. The game would be won by New York, in keeping with the Cowboys’ Stadium tradition surrounding the Giants-Cowboys games since it opened in 2009.
But this is AT&T Stadium, and that name matters. This is a new season, and it starts here, in AT&T Stadium. But as far as a difference between this year’s team and last year’s team, it’s a little deeper than just a name change. No more 3-4, no more dropping DeMarcus Ware into coverage, in the 4-3 he’s going after quarterbacks from whistle to whistle. No longer are Sean Lee and Bruce Carter playing linebacker positions that weren’t their true positions, they’re at home. But the defense isn’t without its weak points, especially this Week 1 game. Jay Ratliff, is out for the first six weeks. Anthony Spencer might play and if he does, he won’t be 100% ready and conditioned. And with the combination of Ratliff being out and Spencer going to need plays off, the Cowboys are going to lean on George Selvie, Ben Bass, Nick Hayden, and Kyle Wilber. Morris Claiborne is ready to go, but having missed the whole of training camp, who knows how his game speed is. But I’m not worried, the Cowboys still have Ware, Carr, Hatcher, Church, and the “Rush Hour” linebacker duo of Lee and Carter.
On offense, much is the same. A lashed together group of men have to come together as a unit to protect their quarterback and get push for their running game. A daunting task, but help is on the way in the form of 36-year old guard Brian Waters. I don’t expect him to play this week, but if he can get in quickly and get close to his old Patriots’ form, this could be a good signing. Which player is going to step up and take the game from the Giants? I’d buy stock in Dez Bryant. DeMarco Murray is going to have to get what he can out of every run.
What to look for from the Giants: At some point during the game, Eli Manning is going to throw up a ball and its going to draw a long pass interference. David Wilson has come a long way since fumbling opening day, a season ago, and is a serious threat to take it to the house on any time he touches the ball. Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have missed a lot of time during the offseason, but both look like they’ll both play. The Giants linebacker corps isn’t their strength, and their secondary is pretty banged up.
What to look for from the Cowboys: Look for balance, an even spread of run and pass. And then look for that to not last the whole game. Our best weapons are through the air. Look for a linebacker to create a turnover and look for DeMarcus Ware to be a constant terror in the backfield.
Prediction: Giants 21 – Cowboys 31
Game InfoSunday – September 8 – 7:30 PM