Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-4, 46)THE STORY:
The New York Giants begin the defense of their Super Bowl championship on Wednesday, when they open the 2012 season against the Dallas Cowboys. New York's 9-7 record was enough to win the mediocre NFC East last season, clinching the title with a 31-14 triumph over Dallas at home in Week 17. The Giants rolled past Atlanta and upset the 15-1 Packers in Green Bay before needing overtime to top San Francisco in the conference championship game.
For the second time in five years, New York defeated New England in the Super Bowl, earning its fourth league championship. That gives Dallas even more incentive to take down its hated division rival in the season opener.
The Cowboys, who were a disappointing 8-8 last year, have not had much success against the Giants of late, losing five of their last six meetings. New York has eclipsed the 30-point mark in each of its last six victories in the all-time series.
Officiating could be a factor as replacement officials will be used to start the season for the second time in 12 years. The league locked out its regular officials in June, and a new agreement with the referees union has yet to be reached.TV:
8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE:
Giants -4. O/U: 46. Oddsmakers opened the defending Super Bowl champs as 3-point favorites back in April. The spread has jump a point at most books and the total has also moved from 47 to 46 points.WEATHER:
The forecast in New Jersey is calling for the possibility of thunderstorms and a 67 percent chance of rain to start the game, giving way to partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70s. Winds will blow WNW as high as 6 mph. ABOUT THE COWBOYS:
The injury-riddled receiving corps appears to be rounding into shape. Dez Bryant sat out the final two preseason games with right knee tendinitis while Miles Austin didn't play at all after having hamstring problems last season and in training camp. Both are expected to be ready for the Giants. Tight end Jason Witten, who suffered a lacerated spleen in the preseason opener on Aug. 13, practiced in pads Saturday for the first time since the injury and hopes to be medically cleared for Wednesday's contest. As a precaution, Dallas claimed tight end Colin Cochart off waivers from Cincinnati and released third-string quarterback Stephen McGee.
ABOUT THE GIANTS:
With a second Super Bowl ring on his hand, Eli Manning enters the year with more confidence than ever before. That also is because of a trio of receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon that arguably is the best in the league. Nicks is returning from offseason foot surgery and sat out practice Sunday but insisted he will play. New York also added talented tight end Martellus Bennett, whose growth was stunted in Dallas as he spent four seasons behind Witten. Linebacker Michael Boley, who missed the entire preseason with a strained hamstring, practiced for the first time Saturday and hopes to be on the field against the Cowboys.TRENDS:
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Over is 8-2-1 in the last 11 meetings in New York.
* Cowboys are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight meetings in New York.
* Cowboys are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.EXTRA POINTS:
1. The Cowboys own the league's best winning percentage in season openers with a .663 mark (34-17-1). The Giants also are among the leaders at .592 (49-33-5).
2. New York is five victories away from becoming the third team in NFL history to reach 650 wins. It will join Chicago (712) and Green Bay (679) in the elite group.
3. Witten, who has missed just one game in his career, owns the second-longest consecutive games streak among active TEs at 139 contests. He sat out a game as a rookie in 2003 due to a broken jaw.