NFL Sunday Night Football kicks off its first game of 2013 with a clash between division rivals who suffered letdown seasons last year, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Both teams were expected to contend last season and neither was able to make the playoffs, putting pressure on their coaches to turn things around this year and right the ship else potentially face the prospect of needing a new job.
The Cowboys finished last season with another disappointing 8-8 record and major concerns about their quarterback Tony Romo’s ability to make big plays when it counts, not force turnovers at the worst possible times. Despite Romo’s struggles at times, Dallas signed him to a huge contract extension and expects Romo to shake off a career-tying 19 interception season and guide the Cowboys to a winning record and ultimately back into the Playoffs.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys have overhauled their defense starting with new coordinator Monte Kiffin and the implementation of a 4-3 scheme as opposed to former coordinator Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. While the Cowboys will need more production from their front four, one of the leaders, Anthony Spencer, may be sitting out tonight’s game following surgery on his knee.
New York is coming off a winning record at 9-7, but they dropped five of their final eight games and finished the year with one of the worst defenses statistically in the league. Some changes have been made to the line, but New York will need to find ways to get to the opposing quarterback, in tonight’s case Romo, and not allow him to settle into the pocket and pick apart the secondary.
On offense, the Giants will again rely on Eli Manning and his dynamic receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. The hope is that Nicks will be able to regain his form after a rough season last year that was highlighted by injuries. Cruz was hurt in the preseason but the expectation is that he will be 100 percent healthy tonight and ready to give the Cowboys’ secondary fits with his big play potential.
This is a coin flip type game where the winner will likely be determined in the fourth quarter and mental lapses will choose the victor. I like the Cowboys at home here by a field goal.
Tonight’s first of 17 NFL Sunday Night Football games that will air exclusive on NBC will officially kick off at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST start time in high definition (HD). NBC does offer anb official free live online streaming version of Sunday Night Football where you can watch most of the action here, but for full access via mobile devices such as cell phones, iPads and computers, you would have to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket via DirecTV as opposed to going the freebie route.