The NFL season begins today, on a Wednesday rather than what had been a Thursday the past several years, with a key NFC East matchup as the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants.
Since my computer does not attempt to adjust ratings based on off-season moves, the computer's pick is simply based on last years end of season ratings, but we can still take a look at last year to see if there is any indication of how things might start this year.
The Giants started slow last year, falling to #24 after their week 1 loss and were only ranked #19 with a 7-7 record after week 15. But they closed with 2 good wins to get to #12 and then ran the table finishing #5 after their Superbowl win. Here is their performance chart for the year.
Dallas started stronger, getting into the top-10, but then finished mid-pack in the low to mid-teens and losing 4 of their last 5. Here is their chart.
Last year, the teams played twice and the Giants won by 3 in Dallas and by 17 at home. But in 2010, they split, the Giants winning in Dallas by 6 and the Cowboys by 13 in New York.
What does this all mean? If the teams play like they did last year, with more emphasis on the later games, the Giants are the better team and my computer likes them by just over 7 since they are at home. With the line at 3.5 that makes the Giants a decent pick against the spread too.
Let the season begin!