Tonight, NFL enthusiasts across the globe will become the biggest Mariah Carey and No Doubt fans on the planet. Don’t worry, they haven’t all gone mad. It is because they are the music acts chosen to end 7 months of football purgatory by raising the curtain on the 2013 season at MetLife Stadium, home of the Superbowl winning New York Giants.
For those that will be watching, they couldn’t wish for a better season opener. The matchup is sure to guarantee that emotions will be running high, with the home crowd roar on their defending champions against “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, in what is one of the most fiercely contested divisional rivalries in the NFL today.
The consensus at the moment is that the Giants should cruise to victory in this week 1 fixture having won 7 of the 11 previous match ups in the last 5 years, but given the nature of their last contest, Dallas will be seeking revenge.
For those that may have forgotten, the Cowboys’ last encounter with the Giants was a season ending 31-14 defeat which sent the Giants into the playoffs ahead of them, a blow only made worse by the fact that the Giants now have rings, which will presented pre-game, to go with it.
For a team and fan base that expects success from the Cowboys, this sight is only set to rile them up further. However, what they have in passion needs to be backed up with talent and discipline; an area where the Giants have had the edge of late.
In the 2 games from last season, Eli Manning’s continued rise as an elite QB was most evident. With the support of his wide receiving core, they were able to pick apart what appeared to be a largely non-existent secondary.
This did not go unnoticed, leading owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys to address this area in the offseason through the drafting of the highly rated Morris Claiborne and the signing of free agent Brandon Carr.
Rob Ryan will be hoping they slot in straight away to significantly reduce the deep threat. If they are able to do so, this will ensure greater success this year with his creative blitz packages, which has won him much acclaim during his stint as a defensive co-ordinator in the NFL.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, I think their undoing this time around will be the fitness of Tony Romo’s favourite target, Jason Witten, and the absence of nose tackle, Jay Ratliff. With such integral figures affected on both sides of the ball, the Giants will look to dictate the tempo right from the first snap.
Look for Jason Pierre-Paul to be the game’s MVP. He continues to go from strength-to-strength and has become one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive ends. With early season rustiness in effect, he will look to dominate the Cowboys’ questionable offensive line and without Romo’s favourite outlet at full fitness, he will be aiming to boost his sack total with every down he plays.
All in all, I believe it should be a thrilling encounter with the Giants ultimately winning 30-17 in a game which should set a high benchmark for another thoroughly entertaining NFL season.
image: © rajivpatel