The New York Giants officially kick off their Super Bowl title defense on Wednesday night at home against the Dallas Cowboys. In the weeks leading up to this game, both sides have exchanged varying levels of trash talk. However, talk is cheap and the Giants have beaten the Cowboys seven straight times. Going into this game, Las Vegas pegged Big Blue as a four-point favorite. Here are five things to watch for on Wednesday night…
1. Jason Witten’s Health: It’s no secret that Jason Witten is Tony Romo’s favorite target. The Witten-Romo combo has produced at least 79 catches and 924 yards during each season. However, Witten suffered a lacerated spleen injury during the pre-season and his Week 1 status is murky. Witten has been practicing in full-pads, but hasn’t been cleared for contact. Would the Cowboys’ jeopardize the rest of his season by playing him in Week 1? We’ll see, but Witten’s mere presence in the middle of the field opens up outside lanes for Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. If the Cowboys want to spoil Big Blue’s Super Bowl celebration party, they’ll need Witten out there.
2. Dallas’ New Secondary: After ranking towards the bottom in pass defense, the Cowboys addressed the secondary in the off-season. Dallas signed free agent corner, Brandon Carr and traded up to select LSU corner, Morris Claiborne. To start the seaosn, Claiborne will back-up Orlando Scandrick, but Claiborne is expected to produce right away. This new Dallas secondary will have a strong first test in the form of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Arguably the league’s best receiving duo, Cruz and Nicks present match-up problems gallore. Of note, Cruz roasted the Dallas secondary for 178 yards and a touchdown during their pivotal Week 17 showdown last year. Can Dallas contain the high-flying Cruz and the now-healthy Nicks?
3. Romo’s Accuracy: The Cowboys had the Giants beat in Week 17 last season. With only 2:24 to go in the game while holding a four-point lead, Romo overthrew Austin on a wide-open route that would have ended Big Blue’s season. Romo has failed in big-game situations before and a Week 1 match-up in New York would be a prime opportunity to redeem himself. Romo posted an impressive 7:1 TD:INT ratio last year against the Giants, but failed to convert the big plays. Can he bounce back and make them this year?
4. Pass Rushers Galore: If you like high-end, uber-athletic pass rushers, this is the game to watch. Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware and Big Blue’s Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora all rank among the game’s best talents. JPP rang up three sacks against the Cowboys last year while Ware rang up 1.5. Ware finished second in the league with 19.5 sacks last season, so the Giants will need to slow him down.
5. The Use of David Wilson: David Wilson was one of the most intriguing prospects from the 2012 draft class. Wilson possesses high-end speed, quickness, and a great initial burst. Currently, Wilson is behind Ahmad Bradshaw on the depth chart, but there’s no doubting Wilson’s play-making ability. Recently, Wilson made some high-end goals for himself. Those goals included averaging five yards per carry, no fumbles, scoring at least ten touchdowns, allowing no sacks, at least six 100-yard games, and at least one play of 25+ yards per game. While these goals are lofty, I wouldn’t be surprised if he achieved them all. Wilson’s big play ability reminds me of Jamaal Charles from the Chiefs and you know the Giants’ will utilize his skills. Wilson has some short-comings with pass blocking, but those can be fixed in time. For now, Wilson will attempt to start checking his goals off against Dallas.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Witten’s health, the nagging injuries of Austin and Bryant, and lackluster offensive line play, I like the Giants to win their Week 1 showdown against Dallas. The Giants should have all of their starters ready to go and they’ll look to make an early statement.