By Steve Silverman
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Defending Super Bowl champions usually do not roll through the season without any issues or problems.

No team has defended its title successfully since the Patriots won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004.

That’s what the goal is for Tom Coughlin’s team this year, and they appear to have as good a chance to accomplish that goal as any team could when you assess the strengths and weaknesses at the start of the season.

That and $4 will get you a grande coffee at Starbucks.

The Giants’ outcome this season will be determined by their health, the continued development of Eli Manning as one of the game’s best clutch passers and the power of the defensive line.

But as far as the first game of the season is concerned, the Giants should roar out of the gate when they open the season on Wednesday night against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.

Here’s the historical perspective. The last 12 Super Bowl winners who opened the season in the annual kickoff game have all won those games.

That’s a nice trend, and it speaks of a motivation by the defending champs to erase all doubts that the Super Bowl win was anything but a fluke.

That usually makes no sense, because any team that goes through the rigors of the NFL postseason and emerges as champion has proven themselves under the most difficult circumstances.

The Giants beat the Packers and 49ers on the road to get to the Super Bowl, and then took care of an explosive Patriots team in the Super Bowl.

They really have nothing to prove as far as last year is concerned, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told his team’s fans that Dallas would kick the Giants’ a– in the season opener.

Of course, he said this back in July before the start of training camp, and he was just trying to drum up interest in his team. He should have realized that the calendar has a way of catching up with you.

All he has done is make Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul a little bit angrier than they would have been.

This does not bode well for quarterback Tony Romo, who is almost certainly in his last year in Dallas if the Cowboys don’t get into the playoffs and win one game.

Then the Giants’ offense will get a chance to display its ability. Manning has shown that when it comes to performing when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter, he is as good as any quarterback in the game. In a league that includes Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees –- not to mention his older brother Peyton –- that’s really saying something.

But the offense does not have to be on Eli’s shoulders all season. It was last year during the regular season that the Giants made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. They didn’t turn into a dominant team until they rediscovered their running game and had some balance to their offense.

This is a concept that disappeared in recent years, as most of the power teams in the league were content to throw the ball all over the lot.

But the Giants ran the ball successfully in the postseason and beat the best teams in football. Hence, a balanced offense once again means something.

That’s the game plan they need to follow tonight, because the Cowboys have one of the most dangerous players in football in linebacker DeMarcus Ware. If he knows the Giants are going to throw the ball on every snap, he will cause havoc.

However, if he has to contend with a physical running game as well as the downfield passing of Manning,  he won’t be able to dominate as easily.

The Giants have the motivation of opening at home in front of their raucous fans against a hated and disrespectful rival.

It all adds up to a Giants win in the opener, and it shouldn’t even be that close.

Kickoff is just hours away, Giants fans! Sound off with your thoughts and comments in the section below…


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