NFL Picks: Giants at Cowboys Week 1 Predictions and Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/30/2013
Is Tony Romo an elite franchise quarterback? I'd say no, considering the Cowboys haven't had a winning record since 2009 and have won a single playoff game under Romo. Well, the Cowboys are certainly paying Romo like one of the NFL's best as he got a seven-year, $119.5 million extension this offseason, barely less than reigning Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Now, is Romo a good player? Certainly. There are probably at least 10 teams in the NFL that would take him over their current starter. But there are another 10 or so that probably wouldn't. To me, Romo is a lot like the Bears' Jay Cutler.
Obviously Romo will be feeling a bit of pressure this season with that new deal. Perhaps no coach in the NFL outside of the Jets' Rex Ryan is more on the hot seat than the Cowboys' Jason Garrett. Jerry Jones says he expects Garrett to be his coach for a long time. I fully expect Garrett to be gone with another year watching the playoffs. In addition, Garrett will not be calling the offensive plays this year, with new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan doing so. Odd decision considering Callahan hasn't done that since 2003. The guy who really needs to be fired in this franchise is Jones, the general manager, but that will never happen.
New York also missed the playoffs last year, finishing at 9-7. That was a good enough mark to reach the 2011 postseason, in which the G-Men, of course, won the Super Bowl. The Giants haven't missed the playoffs in back-to-back years since 2003-04, the final year of Jim Fassel's tenure and then the first of Tom Coughlin's. I could see the team making a change at coach with a bad season as Coughlin is entering his 10th season and players can start to tune a coach out.
Giants at Cowboys Betting Story Lines
The Cowboys have the most impressive stadium in the NFL, if not the world, but they haven't been particularly good there since it opened, going 17-15. New York really enjoys Cowboys Stadium, going 4-0 there.
Obviously these teams know each other well as NFC East rivals. They split in 2012 and Dallas hasn't won a regular season series against New York -- i.e. swept -- since 2007. Ironically, those two played in the divisional round that season, and the Giants won on the way to the Super Bowl. In last year's Kickoff Game at MetLife Stadium, Dallas pulled a 24-17 upset as a 3.5-point underdog. That was the first loss for a reigning Super Bowl Champion in that season opener. Romo was excellent, going 20-for-27 with three touchdowns (Romo made WR Kevin Ogletree a big-time fantasy pickup after that game, although it didn't last). DeMarco Murray ran for 131 yards on 20 carries. Eli Manning was 20-for-32 for 213 yards and a TD.
In Week 8 at Cowboys Stadium, the Giants won 29-24 as 1.5-point favorites. That was one of the most interesting games of the season. New York was up 23-0 midway through the second quarter, but the Cowboys took a 24-23 lead late in the third. Two Giants field goals gave them a five-point cushion. It appeared that Romo hit Dez Bryant on a 37-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the game for the win, but officials overturned the score on replay as Bryant's hand came down out of bounds. Romo threw for a career-high 437 yards on a whopping 62 attempts but had four interceptions. One of those was returned for a score by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Jason Witten had an NFL tight end-record 18 catches. Manning threw for 192 with a pick.
There is one injury to know about already for this game, and it's to Pierre-Paul. He began camp on the PUP list after back surgery in early June. Pierre-Paul said the back pain had an impact on him last season when he saw his sacks drop from 16½ in 2011 to 6½. I'll be a bit surprised if he plays. Cowboys end Anthony Spencer recently underwent knee surgery but should be ready for the opener. He had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012.
Giants at Cowboys Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, Dallas opened as a three-point favorite with a total of 49. The Giants were 7-8-1 ATS in 2012 (3-4-1 on road) and 5-11 “over/under” (1-7 on road). The Cowboys were 6-10 ATS last season (1-7 at home) and 8-8 over/under (6-2 at home). New York failed to cover its final four road games last year. The one comparable line to this one for the Giants during the season was when New York was plus-2.5 in Week 3 at Carolina and blew out the Panthers. The Cowboys only home cover of the year was at minus-1 and a 27-24 home win over the Steelers in Week 15. Dallas was 0-3 ATS as a favorite of between 3-3.5 points.
NFL Picks: Giants at Cowboys Week 1 Predictions
Something has to give here. Either Dallas will get its first win at its palace against New York or the Giants will get their first season-opening win over the Cowboys, who are 6-0 in that situation against New York. I'm not overly high on the Giants running game and think Dallas can be excellent on offense as long as Murray stays healthy. So far he is, so take the Cowboys and the over here.
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