Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Cowboys' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the New York Giants.
The Opponent: Your defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who you might remember from the two brutal defeats at the end of last season which gave the Giants the division and left the Cowboys sitting at home.
Record: 0-0, obviously. The Giants have won seven of the last nine against the Cowboys, though.
The Line: Giants by 4, which suggests that oddsmakers believe the Cowboys are good, that the Giants aren't or that there's a lot of dumb money out there on both sides. The third seems the most likely.
Last Game: We'll skip past the preseason and again remind you, as Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will do several times on Wednesday night, that the Giants won the Super Bowl 21-17 thanks to another late burst of heroics from Eli Manning against the Patriots. That's left some calling Manning the best quarterback in the league which seems a lot less ridiculous than it would have at any other point in his career.
The Coach: There's something about Tom Coughlin that makes people have short memories. A few losses and no one remembers he won the Super Bowl. He wins a Super Bowl and no one remembers that equally talented teams wildly underachieved for three straight seasons. It's impossible for columnists and commentators to accept, but perhaps it's not all about the coach?
The Offense: The Giants lost a couple of strong contributors when Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs left in free agency, but the offense is still loaded. Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz made beautiful music last season and first-round pick David Wilson looks like the kind of home run hitter the Giants have never had in the backfield. The offensive line looks like a bit of a mess, but it did last year as well and the offense was just fine. The key this year is whether their late game performance last year -- Manning was basically unstoppable in the fourth quarter -- is sustainable or if they'll regress to the mean this season.
The Defense: It's a simple equation for the Giants. If they rush the passer, they win. If they don't, the rest of their defense gets exposed as being the average-to-subpar unit that it was for most of last season. The good news for the Giants is that it is very tough to stop that pass rush. The bad news is that injuries might make the rest of the defense even worse than it was last year.
Key Matchup: The interior offensive line's ability to handle the Giants will determine what kind of night it will be for the Cowboys. Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck get the hype for coming off the edge, but the Giants are most successful when they are rushing up into the quarterback's face. If Tony Romo has the chance to throw, the Giants are vulnerable. The suspect interior of the line has to give him that chance for the Cowboys to win.