Giants have plenty of problems
This could be the year, finally, when the New York Giants leave Arlington, Texas, with a loss.
Four times. Count them. 1, 2, 3, 4. Or one, two, three, four, whichever you prefer but the Giants are 4-0 in the billion-dollar palace now called AT&T Stadium.
That will change Sunday night.
Yes, the Cowboys have also struggled on Sunday night in the past, but things should be better now.
The Giants have as many offensive line problems as the Cowboys, and the running game just isn't the same. The secondary is challenged and the pass rush, despite the offseason improvement, doesn't have the same kind of feel as in years past.
So the Cowboys, with their own offensive line problems, are the better team right now. We'll start on offense, where Dez Bryant enters the 2013 season with the expectations that he'll perform better.
In three NFL seasons, Bryant has more than 2,500 yards, 200 receptions and 25 touchdowns. Only three other men have done that: Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Andre Rison. Rice is a Hall of Famer and you could make a strong case for Moss as well.
The chemistry quarterback Tony Romo has with Bryant is unreal. Bryant is running better routes, has more of a command of the offense and is just overall unstoppable at times.
Let's not forget the running game.
Yes, we know the run game struggled badly last season, but with Bill Callahan as the new playcaller this season, he'll make sure DeMarco Murray gets his carries. Worried about his health, the Cowboys have never been this strong at running back in a good while. Phillip Tanner and Joseph Randle are more-than-capable backups for the 2013 season. We're not forgetting about Lance Dunbar, who had an excellent preseason, but his foot sprain makes his availability for the opener a question.
The offensive line isn't a strength, at least not until Brian Waters plays in Week 2 against Kansas City, but it's better than it was last season.
The defense is better now, with Monte Kiffin running his 4-3 scheme.
In the preseason, the Cowboys forced 10 turnovers in five games. The pass rush has DeMarcus Ware, coming off a subarp -- for him -- 11-sack 2012 season. But when healthy, he's one of the more dominant pass-rushers in the game. He should see fewer double-teams moving from outside linebacker to defensive end.
Bruce Carter and Sean Lee are a great 1-2 combo at linebacker. The secondary, while it does have its issues -- lack of converting pass breakups into interceptions -- is better with the addition of Will Allen at safety and another year of seasoning with cornerback Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys, overall, are better than the Giants, and on Sunday night, they'll prove it.
It's time for Cowboys' luck to turn
My gut says to go with the Giants.
After all, the game is being played in The House That Eli Signed, the $1.2 billion building that has never seen the Giants lose. But that trend has to end sometime. Why not Sunday night?
The Dallas passing game is the primary reason to believe that the Cowboys can finally celebrate a win over the Giants in their (relatively) new home. Or the Giants' secondary, depending on your perspective.
That's the biggest mismatch in the game. The Cowboys have to hope that the second-biggest mismatch -- Dallas' work-in-progress offensive line versus New York's front four -- doesn't foul it all up.
However, the Cowboys' offensive line has to be better than it was a year ago, and Tony Romo made a major contribution to the Giants ranking 28th in the NFL in passing defense. Romo lit the Giants up for 744 yards in the two 2012 meetings between the NFC East rivals, a season-opening win for the Cowboys and a Week 8 loss that was a Dez Bryant fingertip away from an unbelievable Dallas comeback.
Granted, the Cowboys were in frantic comeback mode in the second meeting in large part because Romo threw four picks, but the Giants lost their primary ballhawk. Safety Stevie Brown, who had two interceptions in that game and eight for the season, is out for the year due to a knee injury suffered during the preseason.
Bryant has posted a couple of 100-yard games against New York in his career, but the Giants haven't faced the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver since he morphed into a superstar. The Giants' corners can't cover Bryant. The safeties and linebackers certainly can't cover Jason Witten without some help, as evidenced by his NFL tight end-record 18 catches in a wild game at JerryWorld last season. And the Cowboys will gladly pick on Prince Amukamara or Aaron Ross if they're left alone against a healthy Miles Austin.
You can also count on Romo coming out sharp. His season-ending struggles have been well-chronicled, but Romo has a track record of tearing it up in Week 1. He's 4-2 in openers, throwing for 1,949 yards and 14 touchdowns with only four interceptions in those games, including last year's 307-yard, three-TD masterpiece in the Meadowlands.
Of course, it's been proved that even a near-perfect Romo doesn't guarantee a win over the Giants at JerryWorld. His 321-yard, four-TD, no-pick performance wasn't good enough to win a shootout in 2011.
But it's about time for the Cowboys' lost-it-in-the-lights kind of luck to take a turn for the better with the Giants in town.
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Darren Woodson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss accountability at Valley Ranch and what he expects to see from the 2013 Dallas Cowboys.