Diary of a Giants Fan: Season and Cowboy Game Preview
The NFL season kicks off with Giants-Cowboys on Wednesday night and Joe Bianchino checks in to rekindle his Diary of a Giants Fan magic with a new an improved 2012 edition.
Ahhh that's the good stuff. Welcome back Giant fans, I trust your summer has been the same bliss-ridden, ego-fest that mine has been - at least where the New York Giants are concerned. Indeed, the many low points of what was an intensely enigmatic season have been cast aside - the shine of a sparkling new Super Bowl trophy proving too great for any shadow to exist. But as we know, the NFL - and all sport in general- is truly the show that never ends, and exactly six months after claiming said trophy, the G-Men will begin their defense of it against the Cowboys.
Though in a way, such a defense began months ago - perhaps whilst ticker-tape still lined the streets of Manhattan - in the form of cuts, trades, signings and any other manner of roster maneuvering. Offensively, the Giants return nearly every major piece - the only loss in the form of running back Brandon Jacobs. His spot in the depth chart will look to be filled by first round draft pick David Wilson, whose quickness and burst have the Giants excited.
Perhaps the biggest offensive move, however, is the singing of the self proclaimed Black Unicorn. Coming over from Dallas, tight end Martellus Bennett figures to be the most athletic player Eli Manning has ever seen at that position - his sub five second 40 time already giving him a leg up on most. With some honest to God athleticism finally filling that oft-used position, and with the dynamic combination of Nicks and Cruz flanking him, imagine what Eli Manning could orchestrate this year.
Defensively, much of the squad that proved to be equal parts disaster and saving grace in 2011 returns for the 2012 campaign, though with one key addition at line backer. Former first round pick Keith Rivers was acquired on the cheap from the Bengals, and could very well serve an important role in shoring up a corps that has looked un-athletic and lost at times. The LB's effectiveness will likely be more important given that with injuries to Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara, the secondary that served as the bane of our collective existence in 2011 doesn't figure to improve much. This defense once again, will have to rely on the pass rush - and with the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck all healthy, I find myself strangely comfortable with that fact.
Overall, I find myself staring a team that though improved, has a 50/50 shot of finishing with a worse record than they did last year - the New York Giants, ever the enigma. They've been given a brutal schedule in 2012, and because of it - though studded with quality - will likely end up somewhere between 8-8 and 11-5.
The first entry in said schedule is a Wednesday night season opener hosting the rival Dallas Cowboys - whose owner, general manager, and chief windbag Jerry Jones promised that in pursuit of those "Glory Hole" days, would kick the Giants' asses. Innuendo aside, the ever-tough Cowboys are a hard way to open the season, but with injury issues plaguing Jason Witten and Miles Austin, character issues plaguing Dez Bryant, and talent issues plaguing their offensive line - not to mention a could be improved but currently untested secondary - it's hard to know what to expect from the Cowboys.
Prediction: It's been over a decade since a defending Super Bowl champion lost their season opener, which is a fear less encouraging stat then it should be. It would be so like past Giants to buck the trend and deliver a first-of-its-kind-esq letdown - but these aren't past Giants and I'm not coming out of the gate like that. Though it remains to be seen how long the light given off by that silver Lombardi trophy will keep the shadows at bay - will they emerge from their banishment with the first failed 3rd and 1, the first loss, the first ill-conceived screen pass? - I know that at this moment I'm still basking in its marvelous glow and looking toward a Giant squad with a wealth of talent and a bright future. Quite simply, the Giants are a better team than the Cowboys. I think they'll come out excited and embrace the moment. They'll get to Romo, find success through the air and - though it won't be easy - Giants 24-17.
Follow me on Twitter for live tweets during the game, updates, opinion, and more Diary of a Giants Fan throughout the 2012 season. And, of course, Go Giants!