Week 1 Free NFL Picks: Dallas Cowboys @ NY Jets Sunday Night NFL Week 1 Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on NBC 9/11/11: The first Sunday night NFL game of the year has the Dallas Cowboys visiting the New York Jets in what figures to be an emotionally-charged atmosphere on the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Cowboys are hoping that the return of star quarterback Tony Romo as well as new coach Jason Garrett will help Dallas rebound from a disappointing 6-10 campaign. Meanwhile, the Jets are coming off back-to-back appearances in the AFC Title Game and have their eyes on nothing less than a Super Bowl run.

As a bonus, there will be as much of a rivalry taking place on the sideline as one the field when Rob Ryan makes his debut as defensive coordinator for the Cowboys with his brother Rex Ryan across the field coaching the Jets. While Rex has already proven his worth to New York, Rob’s ability to do the same in Dallas could determine the outcome of Sunday night’s game and ultimately the season for the Cowboys. After giving up the second-most points in the NFL last season, Rob Ryan’s impact needs to be immediate.

On the field, the matchup to watch is going to be the Jets secondary versus the Cowboys’ passing attack. Even without Romo under center, Dallas had one of the best passing offenses in the NFL last season. Receivers Miles Autsin and Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten should all have even better numbers this year with Romo under center. That being said, New York has one of the better secondaries in the league, and cornerback Darrelle Revis may be the best in the business. The unit loves to play man-to-man coverage, which means Dallas will have some opportunities to hit some big plays. However, having the opportunities and being able to capitalize are two different things.

The other potential problem for the Cowboys is a new-look offensive line that features three new starters, including rookie tackle Tyron Smith. The Jets bring a ton of pressure on defense, and if the offensive line cracks under the heat, Romo is going to be spending a lot of time on his back. On the other hand, running back Felix Jones could hit some big plays of his own if the offensive line lives up to its billing. Garrett wanted a smaller, quicker line capable of expanding the playbook and using Jones’ full potential. The idea is good in theory, but playing the Jets right off the bat is a tough test for a new system.

New York hasn’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut either. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has made strides, but he barely completed more than 50 percent of his passes last season. Receiver Plaxico Burress has been added to give Sanchez a reliable target, but it may take him a few weeks to get into game shape after spending the last two years in prison. The Jets have been a run-first team in recent years, and running back Shonn Greene seems capable of carrying the load this season. However, Rob Ryan is going to make sure his defense does everything in its power to make Sanchez and the passing game beat them.

Sanchez and company will have every opportunity to do just that Sunday night because Dallas is going to be missing cornerback Terence Newman, and fellow corner Michael Jenkins is dealing with a nagging injury. Against an injury depleted secondary, Burress and tight end Dustin Keller should be able to make an impact. If the Jets can establish balance on offense, the Cowboys defense is going to be in trouble.

In the end, the Cowboys are facing an uphill battle in this one. The defense is learning a new system and the same goes for the offensive line. In the meantime, the Jets aren’t going to take it easy on Dallas one either side of the ball. Romo and company will probably connect on some big plays, but the relentless blitzing from New York will take its toll. Throw in the fact that the Jets are playing at home in front of a crowd that will be absolutely deafening, and they should be able to pick up the win and cover the 5 ½ point spread.

Free NFL Football Picks and Predictions: New York Jets -5.5

Week 1 NFL Football: Dallas Cowboys @ NY Jets
Date: 9/11/011
Time: 8:30 PM EST on NBC
Vegas Odds - Favorite: NY Jets -5.5Total: Over/Under 41

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