Matt Lauer hosted the Today show from Cowboys Stadium this morning. Of course, this is partially just a bit of NBC synergy at work, since this weekend’s game will be broadcast on Sunday Night Football. But it’s also telling. This isn’t just a football game on Sunday; it’s a Texas-sized event — the kind even non-football fans might tune in to out of sheer curiosity. It’s like a Super Bowl with far lower stakes — to everyone except the Giants.
Sure, they’ll be distracted at first by the scoreboard, but they have no vested interest in this building opening, and to use a cliché, they really should be able to treat it like just another divisional road game. The weekend’s not about them at all; they’re just extras in this big-budget production. And while the Cowboys players don’t really have a vested interest, either — as opposed to ownership or lifelong fans, this is just a new office for them, until they move on to the next one — any little advantage will go a long way, because on paper, this could be a tough game for the Giants.
Last Sunday, in his first game since Terrell Owens left for Buffalo, Tony Romo threw for a career-high 353 yards against Tampa Bay. And the Giants secondary is banged up: They played last week without cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery, and safeties Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips both missed practice time this week.
On offense, at least, the Giants running game will likely be better, if only because it couldn’t be much worse. But it’ll also be curious to see how loud the stadium gets with 100,000-plus fans, and whether this will fluster Eli Manning. The roof and sliding end-zone doors will be open, which will let some noise out, but it’s hard to forget the trouble Eli and his line had a few years back in Seattle’s notoriously loud Qwest Field. (This is a different team, of course — one that thankfully doesn’t include offsides machine Luke Petitgout — but loud is loud.) Here’s hoping everyone’s too busy chomping down on $60 pizza to make much noise.