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Big Picture: Cowboys Look to Avenge Only Loss With NFC East Title At Stake


With one of the first goals out of the way, the Cowboys can now turn their attention to the second one.

Getting into the playoffs is a great start, but winning the division is obviously even more important, considering it comes with a guaranteed home game.

And that's what the Cowboys will be playing for Sunday night against the Giants – the only team to have beaten Dallas this year. Back in Week 1, the Giants knocked off the Cowboys 20-19, the only blemish on their schedule as the Cowboys have reeled off 11 straight wins.

Now, the 11-1 Cowboys can win the NFC East outright by beating the Giants, who currently sit three games behind them with four to play. A win over Dallas would put the Giants at 9-4 and two games back with three to play. Yet, if they could manage to pull even, they would win the division with the head-to-head tiebreaker.

This year, the Cowboys are 6-0 on the road, looking to equal their perfect 8-0 road mark in 2014. Here's an interesting stat about road games. With either Dak Prescott or Tony Romo starting, the Cowboys haven't lost a regular-season road game since the 2013 season.

Injury-wise, the Cowboys are hoping to get some players back this week on defense. Safety J.J. Wilcox (thigh) and linebacker Justin Durant (hamstring) have a shot of returning to the field against the Giants.

The Cowboys also have a shot to lock up a first-round bye, and perhaps home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cowboys need to beat the Giants to get to 12-1, but if either the Lions or Seahawks lose Sunday, they would claim a first-round bye. If both teams were to lose, along with a Dallas win, the Cowboys would lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with three games to play. 


Any chance the Giants of winning the division comes down to this game against the Cowboys. Obviously, they can still make the playoffs without a victory, but it would likely mean the G-Men would go on the road for every game in the postseason.

The Giants saw their six-game winning streak come to an end Sunday in Pittsburgh, a place the Cowboys needed some fourth-quarter heroics to win. But the Giants didn't share the same joyous road trip, falling to the Steelers 24-14.

The offense had a couple of crucial turnovers, including one interception by Eli Manning in the red zone.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham has continued to put up big numbers, as he ranks fourth in the NFL in catches (75), fifth in receiving yards (1,015) and fourth in the TD catches (eight). However, the Giants haven't been able to spread the ball around consistently to other receivers. Veteran Victor Cruz recently expressed his frustration with his diminished role in the offense. Cruz has just three catches in the last four games, but was not targeted for one pass in the loss to the Steelers. Cruz's only touchdown this year occurred in Dallas as the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

The Giants are optimistic running back Shane Vereen could perhaps return to action this week. He hasn't played since Week 3 because of a triceps injury.

The big injury news for the Giants this week involves pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, who left the game last Sunday with a groin injury and reportedly will have surgery that will sideline him several weeks.


Another injury on the defensive side including tackle Jonathan Hankins, who left the Pittsburgh game with a thigh injury.

The Giants rank fourth in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 91.3 yards per game. Against the Cowboys in Week 1, Ezekiel Elliott had just 51 yards in his NFL debut, easily his lowest output of the season.

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