On Sunday night, the New York Giants will open their 2013 season against their division rival, the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants, who had a disappointing season last year, will look to start this season off right and potentially continue on to win the division. With two time Super Bowl Champion Eli Manning at the helm, it is certainly a feasible goal for the Giants.
However, opening the season with a divisional loss on primetime will certainly hurt their playoff chances in the long run and their team morale. Just ask the Giants. After losing their season opener against the Cowboys last year, the Giants went on to miss the playoffs by just 1 game. Not only that, but the extra divisional loss also killed the Giants’ playoff chances because they had almost no tiebreakers over any other playoff contender. If the Giants want to go back to the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl, this may be one of the most crucial season openers in recent history, especially now that they’re in a division where all 4 teams could win it and tiebreakers might mean everything.
KEYS TO A GIANTS VICTORY
When you’re up against the one of the best young wide receivers in the game, part of your game-plan has to be to shut him down. Dez Bryant is a huge, speedy target with excellent hands, and stopping him is no easy task. Corey Webster will most likely be matched up against Dez on every play, and Bryant is probably the struggling veteran’s worst nightmare. Although safeties Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy will be able to help Webster a little, the majority of the pressure will remain on the 31 year old veteran corner. Although it may seem like an overwhelming task, stopping Dez Bryant is possible. Last year, Richard Sherman and Asante Samuel both held Dez Bryant to under 20 yards receiving and no touchdowns. If the Giants hope to pull out the victory against Dallas, Corey Webster will have to play a key role.
However, the receiver trouble doesn’t end there. The young, unheralded Prince Amukamara will face Miles Austin on the other side of the field, and Austin has proven that he can be one of the better number two receivers in the league. Although injuries have hampered Austin’s recent success, the talent is still there. With the safeties main concern being to help out against Dez Bryant and possibly be responsible for covering Jason Witten, Amukamara will often be on his own to contain the 2-time Pro Bowler. And remember, it was Austin’s 4th quarter touchdown catch last year that gave the Cowboys the week 1 victory over the G-men, so Amukamara will be looked upon to step up. If the Giants’ cornerbacks can contain these two phenomenal receivers, the Giants will be in a prime position to win the game.
The New York Giants’ rushing attack took a huge blow when Andre Brown broke his leg in a preseason game against the Patriots. With Brown’s injury, almost the entire workload will fall to David Wilson, who will be playing as a number 1 running back for the first time in his NFL career. Although Wilson has yet to prove himself as a consistent back, he showed off his explosiveness by breaking off an 84-yard touchdown run against the New York Jets in a preseason matchup. However, aside from that carry Wilson ran the ball 23 times for 95 yards (4.13 YPC). Those numbers aren’t exactly staggering, and against a Cowboys defense that includes Demarcus Ware coming off the edge and Sean Lee filling in the gaps down the middle, having a successful rushing attack will be quite a challenge.
Fortunately for the Giants, they have one of the best tackles in the game with Will Beatty. And with veteran linemen Chris Snee and Kevin Boothe returning, they should create some decent holes for David Wilson. One of the biggest question marks on the offensive line is rookie Justin Pugh, a pick that was highly criticized when it first occurred. While some believed Menelik Watson would have been the better choice, the Giants stood by their decision and have been impressed with Pugh thus far. If Pugh, Wilson, and the rest of the veterans on that offense can pull through in Sunday’s game, the Giants should be able to run the ball highly effectively.
Although this will be no easy game for the Giants, if they can show up Sunday ready to play and successfully stop the pass and run the ball amongst other things, you may soon be reading about a victory for Big Blue.