Giants Start Season Against Familiar Foe: Cowboys

The Giants clash with the Cowboys in Dallas will be aired on NBC Sunday night


The Giants hope their season ends with a Super Bowl title in the comfortable confines of their home field, MetLife stadium. Their season begins in much less hospitable place: Big Blue travels to Dallas Sunday night to take on the Cowboys in the first Sunday Night Football game of the season.  The games airs on NBC.

2012 results: The teams split the season series in 2012, with each club winning on the road.

Key injuries: Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back) is the biggest unknown on the injury front. He practiced on a limited basis throughout the week and is listed questionable for Sunday.

Giants running back Andre Brown (fibula), right tackle David Diehl (thumb) and center David Baas (knee) are out. Left guard Kevin Boothe will replace Baas at center, with James Brewer moving in at left guard. Rookie Justin Pugh steps in for Diehl at right tackle.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz (heel) is probable -- a nice dose of news for the Giants’ offense, to say the least.

The Cowboys’ primary injury concerns are along the defensive line. Starting defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) is doubtful after not practicing all week. Reserve defensive end Ben Bass (shoulder) is out. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hernia) will miss the game, too.

Reasons why the Giants can win Sunday: The Giants have scored 29 points or more in five of the last eight meetings with the Cowboys, and the New York offense could again give the Cowboys a host of problems. Dallas' front four is not deep and could tire if New York can sustain some drives. Earlier in the week, we mentioned the importance of the running game in this regard, but the Giants’ passing game could also prove a big challenge for Dallas to stop.

Also, the Giants’ defensive line, whether Pierre-Paul plays or not, gets a favorable matchup in the Cowboys’ offensive line, which looks somewhat unsettled up the middle. The Giants, save for a 48-yard run allowed to DeMarco Murray in the 2012 season opener, were adept at stopping the Cowboys’ running game a season ago. The more the Giants can make the Cowboys one-dimensional, the better.

Reasons why the Giants could run into trouble at Dallas: The Giants’ defense has the unenviable task of stopping the Cowboys’ passing game, which is one of the NFL’s best. Can the Giants’ defensive backs match up well enough for an entire game against Tony Romo and Co.? Frankly, the Cowboys may not need much from their ground game if Romo takes care of the ball.

The Giants are going to need to be sound on defense to have a chance at beginning their season on a positive note. However, they probably need to take some calculated risks, too. Five of Romo’s 19 interceptions a season ago came against the Giants. Can New York force Dallas’ quarterback into a big mistake or two?

Finally, the Giants enter Week One already in a somewhat challenging position from an injury standpoint. Injuries along either line or at running back could be problematic for them in the season opener.

Prediction: The fantasy-football fans of the world will be entertained on Sunday night. Both defenses look a little shaky, and both offenses could be sharp right off the bat. In short, this looks like a coin flip, but the inclination here is to go with the Giants, who have won the last four games between the clubs that have been decided by less than a touchdown.

Predicted score: Giants 28, Cowboys 27.

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