Tuesday, September 4, 2012
QBs vs pressure will shape Cowboys-Giants
Eli Manning (left) has thrived against the Cowboys, while Tony Romo was sacked nine times against the Giants last season. The two will meet in the NFL regular season opener on Wednesday.
The NFL regular season gets under way Wednesday night with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the rival Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants have owned the series as of late, sweeping last season’s meetings and taking five of the last six in the series. Coming off last season, when the G-men became the fifth franchise to win at least four Super Bowl titles, it would appear the Giants have all the momentum.
But the Cowboys are 5-0 all-time against the Giants in season openers, scoring more than 30 points in all four games, including a 45-35 win in 2007, the last meeting between the teams in a season opener.
2012 is also shaping up to be a tough season for the Giants, as their opponents went a combined 140-116 last season, the toughest schedule this season.
Over the last three seasons, the team with the toughest regular-season schedule based on opponents’ records the previous year has not finished over .500.
On the plus side for the Giants, Eli Manning will still line up under center. In 15 regular season games against the Cowboys, Manning has thrown 31 touchdowns, his most against any opponent. In NFL history, only three players have thrown for more touchdowns against the Cowboys than Manning, and he can tie Jim Hart’s record with a four-TD performance.
Manning threw three of his five touchdowns against the Cowboys last season when facing five or more pass rushers, with no interceptions. The Cowboys may look to lighten the pass rush against Manning this season, as he also led the NFL last season with 18 touchdown passes against such pressure.
His Dallas counterpart, Tony Romo, will have to overcome the Giants pass rush.
In the teams' Week 17 meeting last season, Romo was sacked six times, tying a career high. Over the final seven weeks of the 2011 season, Romo was sacked a total of 21 times, the second-most in the NFL behind Alex Smith’s 23.
The Giants recorded nine sacks against the Cowboys last season, eight of those coming from defensive linemen. The Giants' defensive line combined for 45 sacks last season, the most of any team.
Injuries will also play a big role for the Cowboys. Tight end Jason Witten’s status remains uncertain. He leads all tight ends with 173 receptions and 1,944 receiving yards over the last two seasons.
Romo has completed 73.5 percent of his passes to Jason Witten over the past three seasons. During that time, only Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark (75.3 percent) connected on a higher percentage of passes among quarterbacks and tight ends with 100 attempts.
Dallas will get running back DeMarco Murray back in the lineup for the first time since breaking an ankle against the Giants in Week 14 last season. Murray averaged 5.47 yards per rush last season, third-highest mark in the NFL and third-highest single-season total in Cowboys history.