The New York Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions but even then, you still make changes to your team. For the Giants the majority of their changes happened on the offensive side of the ball.
Tackle David Diehl switches from the left to right side. Will Beatty takes over there but has been battling injuries all summer so Sean Locklear has been manning that spot and doing a credible job. Mario Manningham is no longer the third receiver with Jerrel Jernigan and Domenik Hixon splitting time there. Gone too is running back Brandon Jacobs and taking over his spot is first round selection David Wilson. To me, Wilson is a more complete back than Jacobs and is really a nice fit in this Kevin Gilbride attack. Wilson shows the ability to run the ball with the same kind of power as Jacobs but he does it quicker. It took Jacobs time to get to the outside where Wilson is on the edge right now. Where Wilson can also hurt you is his ability to catch the ball on the swing pass or inside routes and get up the field.
Ahmad Bradshaw is still the starter but don't be one bit surprised that when these two clubs meet again in late October that Wilson is not the starter, he has that much talent. The Giants also added former tight end Martellus Bennett to the roster. Where Bennett has looked good this preseason has been his ability to work the middle of the field but also having an understanding of what his role is on "hot" routes when Manning faces the blitz.
On defense, the Giants will still present problems with their four man line. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell does a really nice job of creating situations that puts your blocking scheme to the test. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is the most dangerous player along the front four. Pierre-Paul will usually line up on the defense's right side, so that will be a match up with Tyron Smith. But there will also be times where Fewell will put Pierre-Paul inside at defensive tackle in the nickel next to Justin Tuck with Osi Umenyiora over the left tackle and Mathias Kiwanuka over the right tackle. You will also see Pierre-Paul line up as the left defensive end where in the game I watched against the Jets where he had a sack from that side. What Fewell is looking for is the opportunity to create mismatches and he does a good job of it with this front.
Where the Cowboys can take an advantage of a match-up is against these Giants linebackers in the passing game. We have seen this summer where DeMarco Murray has been a nice player out of the backfield on the edge in space. Chase Blackburn and Kiwanuka are not good coverage players and with Murray's ability to run routes, then catch the ball, it could put a great deal of pressure on the Giants to have to match up. Of the Giants linebackers that can cover, Michael Boley is their best man but he might be called on for other responsibilities in the scheme.
The Giants have been scrambling in the secondary to get their lineup set. Gone from that Super Bowl team is cornerback Aaron Ross who signed with Jacksonville. Former first round selection Prince Amukamara is out with a high ankle sprain and Terrell Thomas has been put on injured reserve. So Michael Coe will make a start on the right side with Justin Tryon and rookie Jayron Hosley as the backups. Left corner Corey Webster played well during the playoff stretch of 2011 and looks like he has carried that over to the start of 2012. Safeties Kenny Phillips and former cornerback Antrel Rolle are a physical pair. Rolle is used more in coverage and will most likely be paired with Jason Witten during the game.
Overall, this is a talented team at several positions on both sides of the ball. You have to be able to handle players like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on the outside. Pressure on Manning has proven the best way to handle the Giants but the Cowboys have struggled with that the last two meetings. Getting Manning to have to move his feet to throw with be key. Defensively the Cowboys had better be ready for four man pressure with some line stunts up front. Perry Fewell is not a big blitzer like Rob Ryan but with this defensive line he doesn't have to be.