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Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys impressively beat down the New York Giants last week. They outclassed the Giants in the passing game, the running game, in pass defense and run defense. Beating the Super Bowl champs in their own house to open the season is quite a feat. There is reason, however, to think beating the Seahawks in Seattle will be an even tougher job for the Cowboys.
History is written by victors. The Giants were the best team in the NFL last season. More accurately, they were the best team in the playoffs. A closer look at their 9-7 regular season reveals some significant flaws.
The Bad Giants
OPP Scoring – 25th (NFL Rank)
OPP Passer Rating – 20th
OPP 20+ Yard Passes – 28th
OPP Rushing Yards – 19th
OPP Rushing TDs -23rd
This was a team did two things really well, and many things poorly. No team embodied the new style of NFL success more than the 2011 Giants. They passes well and rushed the passer well, and that was enough to win a Super Bowl. They were the first champion in history to accomplish the feat while finishing dead last in rushing yards. Big names like Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora patrol the Giants defense, but the overall unit was not good. They allowed tons of points, great play from opposing quarterbacks, and oodles of rushing yards. Note, however, the impact a strong pass rush has on forced turnovers.
The opening game against Dallas looked like many of those flaws still remained, especially the poor running game and the terrible pass defense. None of the Giants starting secondary would even make the Seahawks team. New York managed to rush for 4.3 yards per carry against the Cowboys, but only 82 yards total because of their dedication to the pass. The Giants only attempted 19 runs in week one, despite the absence of the Cowboys strongest run defender, NT Jay Ratliff. The Seahawks averaged 33 over their last nine games of 2011, and attempted 33 in their first game of 2012.
Seattle does not have the passing game the Giants do. Consider, though, that Tarvaris Jackson threw three interceptions in Dallas last season, and the Seahawks were still were tied at halftime and down 13-6 after three quarters because they rushed for 162 yards.
It is easy to get caught up in simple logic when it comes to forecasting NFL games. If the Cowboys beat the Super Bowl champs on the road, what are they going to do to the Seahawks? The Giants and Seahawks are built very differently, and bring completely different strengths and weaknesses to the table. Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and DeMarcus Ware are great players, regardless of opponent. Seattle’s defense, running game, and the 12th Man should make this a completely different challenge for the Cowboys.