Game of the Week (Season Opener Edition): Cowboys vs. Giants

The first game of the 2012 NFL regular season is a rematch of the last game of the 2011 NFL regular season. Back on the night of January 1, the Giants and Cowboys were both sitting at 8-7 heading into their season-ending showdown to decide the NFC East title in the Meadowlands. Now, eight months later, the Giants kick off their Super Bowl defense against an archrival desperate to get back into the playoffs while its window is still open. Obviously, a special edition of Game of the Week is necessary to commemorate the occasion.

Who: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

When: 7:30 P.M., Wednesday, September 5th

Network: NBC (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)

Key Storylines:

  1. Is Dallas capable of making an enormous statement? History is obviously at odds with the Cowboys in this game. No defending Super Bowl champion has lost their opening game of the season since the 1999 Denver Broncos (in their first game without John Elway at quarterback) and even though the Cowboys were virtually even with the Giants last year, national expectations for the Cowboys’ chances tonight are suitably low. This could actually work in Dallas’ favor - a loss could be easily brushed off because they weren’t supposed to win anyway, but a win would serve as a galvanizing force for the entire season and send one of the strongest opening statements in recent memory to the rest of the league. Jerry Jones’ face may even experience a miracle and develop the ability to make life-like expressions again!
  2. How many blitzers will Rob Ryan send after the quarterback on every play? I’m setting the over/under at 6.5 and taking the over. Remember, the Cowboys’ secondary last year was so porous, the black sheep Ryan brother often had to keep as many players in coverage as possible and just pray that DeMarcus Ware would be able to get to the quarterback by himself. Considering how awesome DeMarcus Ware is, that wasn’t actually a terrible strategy. But blitzing is in the Ryan family’s blood and with highly touted new corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in town, expect the Wolfman to unleash a whole new array of exotic blitzes tonight. No word on how many times he’ll howl at that moon.
  3. Where will this opening night game rank among the others in recent memory? If you recall, these defending champion opening night contests have usually been relatively uninteresting. The Colts destroyed the Saints back in ’07; the Giants easily handled the Redskins in 2008 in a game whose start time was pushed up an hour and a half due to John McCain giving his RNC speech; the Steelers and Titans played a close overtime game in ’09, but it was a low-scoring slog to get through (though my memory may be poisoned by the flu-like symptoms I experienced during said game); and the Saints and Vikings disappointingly combined for only 23 points in the 2010 opener. Only last year’s thriller between the Packers and Saints could be considered an exciting game. My guess is these evenly-matched division rivals will be able to put on an entertaining show tonight.

Steve Stone’s Said in Stone Cold Lock of the Game: “The wonderful thing about pitching is that everyone has his or her own ideas and theories on what is the most important pitch.”

Projected Final Score: Giants 28, Cowboys 20.

Team To Bet On If Gambling Were Legal: Giants (-3.5)

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