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Ultimate Cowboys vs. Giants Preview: DOs and DON’Ts, What to Watch for Dallas

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s already here. Tomorrow night’s Cowboys-Giants matchup is about as pivotal as a Week 1 game can get, and it will admittedly be a difficult one for Dallas to win. I’ve published a bunch of content on the game. At DallasCowboys.com, I took a look at how important it is to win the first game of the season:

Teams that make their way into the season’s final game obviously play well late in the year, but they generally start hot, too. Since 1990, the 22 Super Bowl champions have compiled a .773 winning percentage in the first game of the season – higher than the .745 mark they posted in the rest of their regular season games.

While teams that play deep into January generally found success in September, squads that won their season opener have typically performed better than those that lost it. Since 2007, winners in the NFL’s first week have gone on to claim victory in 56.8 percent of their remaining games. With a sample size of 1,200 games, that’s a pretty significant result.

You can read that whole post here.

At NBC, I just published four things to watch in the passing game.

How will Morris Claiborne stack up against Hakeem Nicks?

Claiborne looked great in the preseason, but he wasn’t really tested too often. The Giants’ duo of Hakeem Nicks and VictorCruz will be one of the most formidable wide receiver pairs Claiborne will face all season.

The majority of the time, Claiborne will likely be matched up on Nicks or Rueben Randle because Cruz frequently lines up inthe slot. Actually, 46.8 percent of Cruz’s 2011 snaps came in the slot. That’s good news for the Cowboys, because I think that ifClaiborne struggles in 2012, it will be primarily versus small, quick receivers on whom he can’t get his hands.

Check it out at NBC.

Finally, I just posted five DOs and DON’Ts for Dallas at Dallas Morning News.

DO place DeMarcus Ware on the left side of the defense.

Like Pierre-Paul for the Giants, Ware generally lines up on the right side of the defense; he lined up on the left side only 22.8 percent of the time in 2011. This week, I think the Cowboys should change that around. One reason is that Ware has actually been more efficient rushing from the left side of the defense, generating pressure on 13.4 percent of his pass-rushing snaps as compared to 9.5 percent on the right side over the past three seasons.

Placing Ware on the left side of the defense means Anthony Spencer would generally be on the right side. Believe it or not, Spencer is one of the NFL’s premiere run defenders. He has ranked first, second, and second among all 3-4 outside linebackers over the past three years, racking up more tackles than anyone else over that span.

Plus, unlike a lot of teams, the Giants are more effective running to the left side than the right. Last season, they averaged 4.27 yards-per-carry when running behind their left tackle, compared to just 3.66 yards-per-attempt toward the right edge.

You can read the other DOs and DON’Ts at DMN. More content coming tomorrow.

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