The NFL seasons kick off on Wednesday, September 5th, and the opening game pits the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch of the regular season finale last year that served as a pseudo playoff game.
The Giants would not have even gotten a chance to make their Super Bowl run had they lost that contest, as the winner would be crowned the NFC East Champion and the loser, who turned out to be the Cowboys, was out of the playoffs.
The Giants won 31-14 and you can bet that Dallas has not forgotten. The Giants have been installed as favorites of -3½ for the opener with the total set at 47.
1. Why Dallas will cover the spread: The Cowboys improved their pass defense during the off-season and they will win this game outright if they can contain Eli Manning and his fine receivers, something they were unable to do in the two meetings last year when Manning passed for 400 and 346 yards respectively. Dallas may go from having one of the worst pass defenses in the league last year to having one of the best set of cornerbacks this year though, thanks to the drafting of Morris Claiborne out of LSU and the signing of probably the best cornerback on the free agent market in Brandon Carr. The offense should be fine provided Dez Bryant is not suspended and Miles Austin returns after injuring his hamstring early in preseason.
2. Why New York will cover the spread: The Giants ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing last year at 89.2 yards per game and they lost Brandon Jacobs to the 49ers, but they will cover this spread if Ahmad Bradshaw can run effectively now that he will not be sharing carries any more. He is certainly capable of doing that, but it is not a good sign that the oft-injured back already suffered a hand injury in Week 2 of the preseason, not a great start for a back that slipped from 1549 yards in 2010 to 926 yards last season. Rookie David Wilson has run well in the exhibition season, and it is more important this year than it was last season for the Giants to run at least a little effectively, as Manning does not figure to toast the new Dallas cornerbacks as easily as he did last year.
3. Total Talk: This total seems fairly right on, but we have a slight lean to the ‘over’. We expect Dallas to win the field possession battle and for their balanced offense with the passing of Romo and the running of DeMarco Murray to convert that edge into points, and while the Giants might struggle more than last year to score points vs. the Dallas defense, especially if they don’t establish Bradshaw and the running game somewhat, we still don’t expect them to get completely shut down.
4. Betting Trends for the game: An ‘over’ between these two teams would be nothing new as it is now 8-3 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings.
Dallas 27 – New York 23