- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Finally. The 2012 season begins tonight when the Dallas Cowboys visit the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
There are all sorts of subplots in a game like this. Here's a nice little preview.
The series: The Cowboys lead the all-time series, 56-42-2, but the Giants have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including a two-game series sweep in 2011. In the last 10 games between the teams, five were decided by a touchdown or less with three games decided by four points or less. The Cowboys have lost their last two season openers yet still own the best winning percentage in league history in such games (.667; 34-17-1). The Giants have a .598 winning percentage in season openers (49-33-5). The Cowboys are 5-0 in openers against the Giants.
Will Jason Witten play? The Cowboys tight end is doubtful with a slightly lacerated spleen. He underwent a CT scan Tuesday and the results weren't made available. If the scan is clean, Witten could play. If he doesn't play, expect John Phillips and rookie James Hanna to get the bulk of the snaps at tight end.
Rookie debuts: First-round pick Morris Claiborne will make his NFL debut on Wednesday night. The cornerback missed the entire offseason program as he recovered from wrist surgery and he missed valuable practice time during training camp with a sprained knee. But Claiborne played in two preseason games and, ready or not, he will start at corner with Brandon Carr on the other side. Defensive end Tyrone Crawford, wide receiver Cole Beasley and Hanna are the other rookies expecting to make their debuts Wednesday night.
Revenge is in the air: The Cowboys had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a victory in the regular-season finale at MetLife Stadium last season but lost, 31-14. Cowboys players hinted all summer they've forgotten about that game, but little by little the Cowboys have talked about beating the Giants. Revenge is in the air, but would it mean anything? It depends on whom you speak with. If the Giants lose, they'll say no big deal and that they've dealt with this in the past. If the Cowboys win, it sets the tone for their season.
Numbers game: The fine people at ESPN Stats & Information found this little item regarding quarterback Tony Romo: He was sacked six times against the Giants in the regular-season finale, tying a career high. Romo was sacked 21 times over the final seven weeks of the 2011 season. Only San Francisco's Alex Smith (23) was sacked more. Want more? Eli Manning has 31 career touchdown passes in 15 regular-season games against the Cowboys, his most against any opponent. Only three players have thrown for more touchdowns against the Cowboys.
The weather: It rained in the New York area Tuesday and there's a 20 percent chance of it happening Wednesday night. The low is supposed to be 72.
Did you know? This is just the second time in Cowboys history they've played a game on Sept. 5. The Cowboys won their only other Sept. 5 game back in 1983, a 31-30 victory over the New York Giants.