These teams met on the final day of last season for the NFC East title, and the same matchup will open the new campaign Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium.
Jeremiah: Kickoff preview
New York was mediocre for most of 2011 before victories over the Jets and Cowboys to close the season gave it the NFC East crown and momentum entering the postseason. The Giants knocked off Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco before Eli Manning captured his second Super Bowl MVP award in a 21-17 win over New England.
Coach Tom Coughlin is not focusing on defending the title, using the slogan "build the bridge" to try to carry the positive feelings from last season into this one.
"This is not that team," Coughlin said. "This is the 2012 team and we've been handed a new set of issues and problems as you followed us and we're in the process of trying to solve them."
Typically vocal Dallas owner Jerry Jones has emphasized the opener for his team.
"It's a great opportunity for us is how I look at it," Jones said. "Very meaningful, everybody has all the appreciation in the world for what we're up against here, the quality of the team."
Dallas had the busier offseason, upgrading a secondary that was the culprit in so many late-game collapses. The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal from Kansas City and traded up eight spots in the draft to select fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall selection.
The new-look secondary will be counted on to slow down Manning, who threw for 746 yards in the two 2011 meetings.
"We feel like a lot of times at the end of games last year when teams were throwing it every down, we didn't defend the pass as well as we needed to," Garrett said. "When we were ahead in some games, we didn't run the ball as well as we needed to. And so we tried to address those needs with personnel, tried to get better in those areas."
Manning threw for a career-high 4,933 yards a season ago and was aided by the stunning emergence of Victor Cruz, who was third in the league with 1,536 receiving yards. Fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks will play Wednesday after suffering a broken foot that landed him on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.
They'll look to improve this season behind veteran starter Ahmad Bradshaw, who's expected to get the bulk of the carries with Brandon Jacobs having departed, and flashy first-round draft pick David Wilson, who impressed in the preseason.
This is the ninth straight year that the defending champion has hosted the prime-time opener the next year. The home team is 8-0.
Traditionally played on a Thursday night, this season opener was moved up a day to avoid a conflict with President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press