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NYwRiter94's Blog
Week 1 Preview: Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants 
Posted on September 5, 2012 at 04:36 PM.
After five months of celebration, preparation and anticipation, New York Giants football has finally returned. On the first Wednesday night game since the Rams and Lions faced off on September 22, 1948, the defending champion New York Football Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys in the annual NFL Kickoff season opener.

While there are some major concerns for the Giants, Big Blue fans have to be pretty confident coming into this game. Since the NFL Kickoff has featured the defending Super Bowl champs as hosts, the home team has gone a decisive 8-0, including New York’s 2008 victory over the Washington Redskins.

More concrete evidence points to the return of the two biggest strengths of the Giants, both of which have been repeatedly reinforced as “works in progress”. Eli Manning, who undoubtedly broke into the realm of the elite last season with nearly 5,000 yards and his second Super Bowl MVP, has consistently been mentioned by his coaches as a player who continues to show up to practice every day looking to improve. That has definitely seemed to be the case this preseason—particularly his 17-for-21 with 121 yards and 1 TD against the Bears in Week 3.

Jason Pierre-Paul, who was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and is the early favorite for 2012, wreaked havoc upon opposing defenses (particularly Dallas) last season, but his coaches claim he’s only halfway there and hasn’t even really developed yet. Teammate Mathias Kiwanuka claimed that he believes JPP can have a 30-sack season (7.5 more than former Giant Michael Strahan’s single season record), and the scary thing is that it really doesn’t seem that far-fetched. With the league moving toward more and more passing attempts per game, a third-year player seeing a considerable step forward in performance would mean at the very least that the 2010 1st Round pick is looking at a season in which he contends for the record.

Of course, both players have strong supporting casts who look to help them out. For Eli, Hakeem Nicks has been a force since he entered the league three seasons ago, with 202 receptions for 3,034 yards and 24 TD in his career, as well as a 2012 postseason campaign that was second all-time to only future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. Nicks enters this season nursing a foot injury suffered in the offseason, but has played through minor injuries throughout his career and seems to be back in shape for Week 1. Last year’s breakout star, Victor Cruz set the Giants’ single season receiving record with 1,536 yards and has proved that he is not a fluke with his consistent catching and route running this preseason. While several young players are looking to step up and replace Mario Manningham this season, the job is Domenik Hixon’s to lose. I have been praising Domenik Hixon for two whole years and I believe there is no reason to stop now. After missing the entire season in 2010 with a torn ACL, Hixon had the third receiver job before re-tearing his ACL against the St. Louis Rams. The play he tore it on was an unbelievable Touchdown reception which reinforced my belief that if he can stay healthy, he is a very valuable weapon for Eli Manning. Manning also has Martellus Bennett this season, the former Cowboy who is likely a more talented receiver than any Eli has had at the TE position since Jeremy Shockey.

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