These two squads are perennial playoff contenders, but they are each coming off disappointing years where they barely missed out on the postseason. Although both sides have talent and experience across the board, there is no guarantee things will be better this time around.
In order for anyone to have faith in either the Giants or Cowboys succeeding this year, the teams will have to answer a few specific questions that are prevalent heading into Week 1. Hopefully, these will be solved by the end of the game between these two on Sunday night.
Can David Wilson Be a Full-Time Running Back?
After being selected in the first round of the 2012 draft, David Wilson struggled to get onto the field to start the season and fell behind Andre Brown on the depth chart. He showed potential late in the season, but he still finished third on the team in rushing yards, carries and touchdowns.
While Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox could see the field, Wilson is expected to get the majority of rushing attempts. This is a lot of responsibility for someone who never had more than 15 carries in a game and only totaled 75 touches all season.
He will have to prove that he has the consistency, focus and durability to remain in the backfield throughout the game. Otherwise, the Giants might need to find someone else until Brown is healthy.
Has the Secondary Improved?
The Giants had a hard time defending anyone through the air last season. The passing defense ranked 28th in the league, and the average of 8.1 yards per pass allowed tied for the worst in the NFL.
This did not hurt the defense on the scoreboard too much because the squad finished third in the NFL with 21 interceptions. However, Stevie Brown led the team with eight picks, and he is out for the year with a torn ACL.
The team now only has Ryan Mundy at free safety, a man who spent four up-and-down years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Otherwise, there is little reason to believe the team will be any better at stopping the pass.
Tony Romo will be certain to test the secondary right away in the first game. A big game by the Cowboys quarterback will give other teams a blueprint of how to beat the Giants for the rest of the year.
How Will 4-3 Defense Work in Debut?
The biggest change in Dallas during the offseason is the transition from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense under veteran defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
While this scheme looked pretty good at times during the preseason, the question is whether the Cowboys have the personnel to handle the shift.
DeMarcus Ware has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL his entire career, but he also spent most of his career standing up as a linebacker. It might be tougher for him to beat tackles with a slower start.
Meanwhile, the rest of the defensive line is either hurt or inexperienced. If the front four cannot do their job, it will be extremely difficult for the remaining defensive players to carry the load, leading to failure all around.
Will Dez Bryant Build Off Late-Season Success?
It took a few seasons for Dez Bryant to finally reach his potential, but he finally appears ready to become one of the top receivers in the entire NFL.
He has increased his catches, receiving yards and touchdowns in each of his first three years, although the second half of last season was truly incredible. In the first eight games, Bryant had 503 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In the last eight, he totaled 879 receiving yards and 10 scores.
The question is if this was just a hot streak for a talented but inconsistent player. Bryant has the skill set to believe that this production was a preview of how good he can be when everything is clicking. However, he has fooled us in the past.
What we do know is that when Bryant is at his best, there is no one on the Giants that can defend him. This could be all the Cowboys need offensively in this matchup.
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