That's right boys and girls, the 2012 NFL season kicks off tonight with the New York football Giants taking on the Dallas Choking Cowboys at MetLife Stadium and this game should be a great start to the NFL season. The Giants are coming off their thrilling Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots (their second in four years) and are looking to keep the winning streak going.
The Cowboys on the other hand enter 2012 following a string of frustrating seasons, with Tony Romo and the Cowboys having just one playoff win since Romo took the starting spot in 2006. In what should be a much more competitive NFC East this year, tonight's Giants vs Cowboys game could end up having huge implications for the NFL playoffs later in the season.
As two of the most popular tickets in the NFL, these teams always generate plenty of hype. As if there needed to be any more, Jerry Jones ratcheted up the pressure on his Cowboys after he invited fans at a Cowboys pep-rally to come to New York and "watch us beat the New York Giants' ass."
Of course ESPN and the sports media wouldn't let any heart-felt talk go unpunished, and Jones' quip nearly caused the worldwide sports leader as well the NY metro sports media to meltdown.
Giant linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka responded with a pointed jab at the Cowboys: "have been whupping his ass for a long time... must be tough to be on the outside looking in at all these championships lately."
Responding to Kiwanuka, Jones took the high road and said Kiwanuka was right. Not that the Cowboy coaching or players needed it, but many of them are going to want to prove the guy who signs their paycheck right.
But while there are 46 players on the roster and 11 guys on the field at any one time, in the mind of most fans there are only two players who really matter.
Tony Romo vs Eli Manning
Perhaps the most popular QB vs QB argument since the Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning debate has lost its luster, the conventional wisdom is that Eli has the rings while Romo has the stats . . . as well as a reputation as a choker. In the span of Manning winning two Super Bowls, Romo has won exactly one playoff game. Those who fall into the Eli camp say Romo can put up big numbers during the regular season, but falls apart in his biggest moments. Eli, on the other hand, never seems to get rattled (or display any emotion) and engineered some seven 4th quarter comebacks to go with eight game-winning drives during last season.
Despite the rings, former Giant Amani Toomer, for one, feels Romo is the better quarterback. "Tony Romo is probably, if you look at him statistically, the best quarterback in the NFC East," Toomer told Sirius XM's Movin' the Chains. "I mean, you look at Eli Manning and what he does in the fourth quarter, but you talk about consistency, talk about 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. That guy can play."
Writing on Football Perspective, Chase Stuart argues that Eli's clutch reputation notwithstanding Tony Romo is the better quarterback. Sure Eli has been impressive in the post-season, but as Stuart points out: "in New York’s two Super Bowl postseasons, the Giants played five extremely close games and won them all. Some view that as a sign of good luck; others view it as an indication that Manning is able to elevate his game in the clutch. Historically speaking, those who believe the former have made lots of money off of those who believe the latter."
And after crunching the numbers for last season, Stuart argues that Romo was even better than Eli in clutch situations last year: "Romo posted arguably the best numbers in the NFL last season in clutch situations. But since that doesn’t match the narrative, don’t expect to see the media mentioning that tonight."
But we all know that there is one and only one goal in today's NFL, as Herm Edwards so eloquently put it:
In head to head matchups, the quarterbacks are nearly even: Eli has won six to Romo's five. So Eli has WON THE GAME one more time.
But really, its just the last game of the regular season that matters.
And in this respect, Eli's two rings heavily outweigh Romo's none.
But before the playoffs get here we have 18 weeks of regular season left, 256 games glorious games of NFL football. We'll find out tonight if Romo and Eli's head to head results will be even, or if starts Eli padding his lead.