Soven Bery’s Sunday Night Football Preview and Prediction

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The NFL season is back in full swing and so is Sunday Night Football! The NBC stable is a perfect closing to what should be a thrilling day of football. This week the New York Giants travel to face their division rival Dallas Cowboys in a hyped opening to the year. Here are ten things to watch for in tonights game.

1. Know where and when to watch. You don’t want to miss this one. Kickoff time is at 8:30 pm ET and, as always, NBC will be carrying this matchup. You can also watch online at the Peacock’s website.

2. Will second year running back David Wilson step up to the plate for New York? He was handed the keys to the starting job after Ahmad Bradshaw left and Andre Brown broke his leg in the preseason. The backfield is thin for the Giants and many fans will be watching to see if Wilson is a legit starter in this league.

3. The Giants are undefeated at the new Cowboys Stadium, the house that Jerry Jones built. Big Blue is four-for-four in Dallas with their most recent win coming on October 28 of last year. Will that streak continue or can this Cowboys team pull out a win?

4. How well will Tony Romo play? The scrutinized quarterback signed a six-year, $108 million extension in the offseason despite throwing a career high-tying 19 interceptions last season. He will be expected to lead Dallas down a tough regular season slate and into the playoffs. That journey starts here and Romo will need a big performance to quiet his critics.

5. Will DeMarco Murray show up? The Cowboys superstar running back had an off year in 2012, playing in only 10 games and racking up just 663 yards. However, if he wants to get back into his explosive shape in 2013, then this game would be the perfect splash. New York finished 31st in the NFL with 383.4 yards allowed per game last season. More specifically, they were ranked 24th in the league when it came to defending against the run. It is all set up for Murray to have a great game. All he has to do is run.

6. Is Dez Bryant ready to become a superstar? We all know Bryant is a star. But 2013 could be the season that the Oklahoma State product makes the leap to a household name. This game, in primetime, is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Bryant will set the tone for the whole season with his performance tonight. A bad game could severely lower expectations, but a solid outing could have everyone in Big D excited for what is to come.

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7. Ten years in, can Eli Manning effectively lead this team? He has won two Super Bowl’s and nabbed countless individual markers of success in his decade in the NFL, but the younger Manning has always been slightly ridiculed. Now his critics even have good reason. He feel off last season and in New York, it is always “what have you done for me lately?” Sadly, Manning is not able to confidently answer that question. He is at the helm of a team that was unable to follow up to its unexpected 2011 Super Bowl run and that lost five of its final eight games in 2012, missing the playoffs. Eli needs to get the Giants back into the postseason or else. Or else his two Super Bowl rings will go down in history in flukes and the negative stats will be highlighted. But, somehow he usually finds a way to win. Eli(te?) will need a win tonight or else this critical season starts off with an inauspicious beginning.

8. How good will this Dallas pass rush be? The ‘Boys replaced defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with Monte Kiffin this past year. Kiffin made the switch from a 3-4 scheme into a 4-3. This means that the defensive line needs to step up against a very sound Giants offensive line. This group is not easy to penetrate. David Diehl, Chris Snee and the rest of that unit allowed a mere 21 sacks in the 2012 regular season for just 133 sack yards.  But Dallas will need pressure from its defensive line so something will have to give. Anthony Spencer, who is uncertain tonight, is prepped for a big game, if he is healthy. Spencer will be joined by  DeMarcus Ware as the latter makes the switch from linebacker to end. The Cowboys hope that move will help them out tonight.

9. Is Victor Cruz ready for Sunday night? He is expected to start in this season opener after being out from a heel injury. But that wasn’t the only offseason drama from the salsa king. Cruz staged a mini-holdout this summer before finally agreeing on a 5-year, $43 million dollar deal. He will have to show that he is worth that money. Cruz can play and needs to bring all his talents into what is sure to be an exciting game.

10. Who will win? After previewing the game and breaking down all the aspects, your Official Sunday Night Soven Bery Prediction is a New York Giants 34-31 win over their rivals. Eli Manning will have two touchdowns and an interception while Romo will also throw an interception. The game will be really close and I see it going either way. However, Cruz, Nicks, Rueben Randle and TE Brandon Meyers will give Manning a huge number of targets, ultimately being the key to the game.

Who do you think will prevail in this clash? Sound off in the comments section below or talk back to me on Twitter @realsovenbery!