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THE STORY: The Dallas Cowboys proudly wear the moniker of America’s Team, but that won’t impress Rex Ryan, who is convinced that his New York Jets are the NFL’s superior team. Ryan has guaranteed a Super Bowl championship this season and will get a stern test in the season opener from the high-powered Cowboys.
The game features subplots galore – a prime-time matchup between Ryan and his twin brother Rob (Dallas’ new defensive coordinator), the return of Plaxico Burress to the field after nearly two years in jail and, most notably, the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. It should be an emotional cauldron, one reason why Rex Ryan said he’s never felt more pressure coaching a game.
TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET
LINE MOVES: This spread originally opened at Jets -1.5 this summer. But with numerous injuries on both offense and defense to the Cowboys starters, football bettors have moved this spread all the way to -5.5 as of Saturday afternoon. The total opened at 41 points and has been bet down slightly to its current stand.
ABOUT THE JETS (2010: 11-5, 2nd AFC East): The Jets have gone to back-to-back AFC Championship games, and now Ryan believes they are ready to take the final step. Burress, who was released from prison in June and hasn’t played since November 2008 after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh, provides a big target for third-year QB Mark Sanchez.
Receiver Santonio Holmes will be available for a full season and veteran Derrick Mason joins an upgraded receiving corps. RB Shonn Greene needs to show he can carry the load, because the defense figures to be stellar again, particularly with bookend CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (2010: 6-10, T-3rd NFC East): The Cowboys would like to purge last season from their memories. They started 1-7 and lost QB Tony Romo to a broken collarbone in the sixth game. Jason Garrett replaced a fired Wade Phillips and led the team to a 5-3 record.
Dallas has plenty of weapons on offense with WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant along with TE Jason Witten. RB Felix Jones has yet to live up to his enormous potential and could find tough sledding behind an overhauled offensive line. DeMarcus Ware led the NFL in sacks (15.5) last season and must be a presence due to a suspect secondary.
WEATHER: Thunderstorms are in the forecast for New Jersey, giving way to rain showers. There is a 36 percent chance of the wet stuff at MetLife Stadium with game-time temperatures in the high 60s. Winds will be blowing slightly, moving north (from endzone to endzone) at 4 mph.
1. The Cowboys have an NFL-best 34-16-1 record in season openers, and their 32-19 mark in road openers also ranks No. 1 in the NFL.
2. The Jets’ defense surrendered 291.5 yards per game last season, the third-lowest mark in the league.
3. Witten has had two straight 94-catch, 1,000-yard seasons. He is the second tight end in league history to record consecutive seasons with 90 receptions. In eight career games against Dallas, Burress has 35 receptions and six touchdowns, including a career-high three in September 2007.
- Cowboys are 5-0 ATS in their last five games as underdogs.
- Jets are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games as home favorites of 3.5-10.0.
- Over is 13-3 in Cowboys last 16 games overall.