Having had the better of recent enounters with the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants will no doubt welcome the opportunity to take on their NFC East rivals, to begin the 2012 NFL season on Wednesday night.
The Giants have found it easy to pile up points against the Cowboys defense in recent seasons and have put quarterback Tony Romo under plenty of pressure. That same combination can again result in a victory for Big Blue.
Here are the four things the G-Men must get right to start their Super Bowl defense with a win:
Isolate the Cowboys Safeties
The Giants best offensive tactic will be to isolate their talented stable of wide receivers against the Cowboys suspect safeties. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and rookie Rueben Randle can give Gerald Sensabaugh and Barry Church fits in the deep zones.
In particular, Cruz can provide a major threat working from the slot. Creating one-on-one matchups for Cruz against either Sensabaugh or Church, should lead to plenty of big plays for Eli Manning and the Giants offense.
Blanket Jason Witten on 3rd Downs
Troubled wideout Dez Bryant may be supremely talented and Miles Austin can make a big play, but come the crunch, Tony Romo is going to look for Jason Witten.
It's safe to assume that any 3rd and 5-10 is going Witten's way. In these situations, the Giants would be wise to double cover the veteran tight end.
That shouldn't be a problem, given the G-Men's talent at safety. Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips are both excellent in coverage and undersized, but speedy linebacker Jacquian Williams should also be able to stay with Witten.
Go Deep Early against the Cowboys Blitz
It's no secret that Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is going to bring multiple blitzes at Eli Manning. The problem is that it often leaves the Cowboys corners isolated in single coverage and exposed to the deep ball.
Although the personnel at cornerback has improved, it's still a big risk for the Cowboys to take against Cruz and Nicks. The Giants should take the opportunity to go deep early and try and make Ryan think twice about how many people he is willing to risk as part of a blitz.
Pressure the Edges and keep Tony Romo in the Pocket
The Giants can pressure any quarterback with an assortment of pass-rush combinations that are the envy of most of the league. Against the Cowboys, Big Blue's front four must keep Romo in the pocket.
The Cowboys gunslinger is very effective on the move and any time he can use his superior athleticism to manufacture a big play. With Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora collapsing the perimeter, the Giants should be able to set a hard edge.
Coordinator Perry Fewell should also mix in some slot blitzes from Phillips and Rolle, as well as rushing outside 'backers Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka.
When Romo is harrassed in the pocket, it usually leads to turnovers. If the Giants can smother the Cowboys quarterback, their own offense should put up enough points to win.