By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
W2W4: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, September 9th 8:30 P.M.
The New York Giants will start the 2013 season in Dallas against the rival Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. The Giants will be putting their undefeated record on the line in Jerry World, as the Giants have won every one of their four visits there. The Giants will be looking to erase the bad taste left in their mouths from last season’s tough title defense and exact some revenge on the Cowboys who beat the Giants in the season opener last season at MetLife Stadium. Here are some things to keep an eye on for Sunday night.
The Giants come into the regular season with some big question marks in the injury department. Headlining the list is star defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, who is recovering from offseason back surgery. JPP has made the trip to Dallas with the team and is officially listed as game-time decision. If he does get into the game it will be interesting to see how he performs having such limited practice time this so far and if his back can hold up. Having him in the lineup, even in a limited basis, would be huge for the Giants. JPP has dominated the Cowboys in the past, namely the game he beat them virtually by himself registering two sacks, a safety, a forced fumble and blocked a potential game-tying field goal in 2011.
Henry Hynoski, recovering from surgery as well, made the trip to Dallas too. Rookie Damontre Moore was also on the plane and both players are listed as questionable. The Giants who did not make the trip and are officially listed as OUT are offensive linemen David Diehl and David Baas and tight end Adrien Robinson.
-New Look D-Line
The Giants last season struggled mightily on defense, finishing the season ranked 31st in total defense. In the offseason they made a point to beef up along the defensive line and that is exactly what they did. New arrivals Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Shaun Rogers and Jonathan Hankins give the Giants a much improved defensive front. Justin Tuck came into the season in great shape as he looks to bounce back from a tough 2012 season and Mathias Kiwanuka is moving back to his natural position of defensive end.
This group will have to step up their play from last season and will have a big test in week one against the Cowboys. The secondary will have their hands full defending the likes of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten so the defensive line needs to step up their game. If the defensive line does not play up to their potential it will be a long night for the Giants secondary.
-Wide Receiving Corps
The Giants season rides on the arm of one Eli Manning and Manning is at his best when he has his full arsenal of weapons around him. Victor Cruz was battling a heel injury during the preseason but is ready to go. Hakeem Nicks says he feels as good as he has in a long time after struggling through injuries in 2012. Both things are positives for Manning as the Giants offense is as explosive as any when both Cruz and Nicks are in the lineup.
Last season the Cowboys were able to hold the combo in check as each had only eight catches in two meetings with Nicks getting 84 yards and Cruz getting 81. The Giants will need better production from those two if they are to top the Cowboys Sunday night.
They will have some more help this season though as Reuben Randle has turned some heads in the offseason with his development. Randle gives Manning a legitimate third receiver to throw too and keep the Cowboys off balance. The Giants have one of the top receiving corps in the NFL and producing like they are capable will be a big part in the Giants success Sunday night.
-New Faces on Offense
The Giants will be putting a lot of faith into some new and inexperienced players on offense Sunday night. The two with the biggest responsibility may be the youngsters on the offensive line. Justin Pugh, the Giants first round pick in the draft this year, will be making his first career start at right tackle. Another youngster, James Brewer, will be starting at left guard. Surrounding the two inexperienced players will be Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee; the three of them have plenty of experience combined to help along the starters. They will look to keep Manning upright and open holes for the Giants run game, where arguably the biggest change was made this offseason.
The Giants have David Wilson in the backfield and he will be the feature back carrying the load for the Giants as Andre Brown was injured in the preseason and there aren’t many options behind him. Wilson will look to show the Cowboys just how talented he is as he was benched last season in the season opener against them for fumbling. Wilson has looked like a stud in the preseason and the Giants hope it will carry over throughout the regular season. If he is able to pass protect for Manning he will be able to stay on the field and give the Giants that big play ability every time he touches the ball.