Stay ahead of the chains on offense:
Where the Giants hurt their opponents is in their ability to rush the passer. When New York is able to get offenses into long-yardage situations, it plays right into their hands. Head coach Jason Garrett and this Cowboys offense needs to find ways to win on first down and not leave plays on the field.
If running back DeMarco Murray can make positive carries and put the offense in good down-and-distance situations, then it makes Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell have to think about how aggressive he wants to be. Garrett always strives for balance in his play-calling, but he is going to have to be extra patient with his calls to make sure that his offense doesn't have to face this Giants pass rush down after down.
Tony Romo is 29-9 as a starter in this league when the team gives up one sack or less, but only 18-20 when it's more than one. Don't allow the Giants to dictate this game along the front.
Don't let little plays become big plays when on defense:
In past meetings between these two teams, the Cowboys defense has allowed too many circumstances where small plays by the Giants turn into big gains or touchdowns. We all remember running back Brandon Jacobs taking a harmless screen pass in the flat in the New York end of the field and rumbling for a touchdown. Last season, receiver Victor Cruz on a third-and-2 ran a simple out route for a first down, but then beat three defenders around the corner for a long touchdown. The Giants' skill players do a nice job in the open field with the ball in their hands. Where the Cowboys defense cannot fail is in coming up and missing tackles because, as in the past, this group will make you pay.
Backups need to play like starters:
There were two things that I learned a long time ago when I first started scouting in the NFL: One, nobody feels sorry for you when you have injured players, and two, if you don't have depth on your 53-man roster, you're not going to win many games.
The Cowboys are going into this game shorthanded. There is a good possibility that Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff, Danny McCray and Mike Jenkins will not play. Jenkins actually practiced this week, but with no training camp, it would be hard to expect him to be any help at all.
This game will fall on guys like John Phillips, James Hanna, Josh Brent, Sean Lissemore, Mario Butler and Mana Silva. These players can't be the weak link at their positions. Garrett and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan are counting on them to step up, and when asked to, make plays. The Giants are like the Cowboys in the number of injuries they are dealing with, but again, nobody is feeling sorry for them.
There are so many outstanding players on both teams, but where this game could hinge is who has the better backups.