The Cowboys raised their expectations by dismantling the reigning NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, 33-10, last Sunday. Now they must prove they can win consecutive games for the first time this season, which they'll get a chance to do Sunday against the New York Giants at Texas Stadium. The Giants are fresh off their bye week but will look to maintain their blistering pace from the first four games.
New York had last week off to rest on their 3-1 record before taking on the Cowboys at noon (CDT) Sunday. This is the second straight season the Giants have started 3-1. The big difference this season, though, is that the Giants don't plan on making any midseason quarterback switches as they did by benching Kurt Warner last year.
First place in the NFC East is potentially on the line, as the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game could become the divisional leader depending on Washington's outcome against Kansas City. The Cowboys haven't beaten the Giants since Dec. 21, 2003, when they secured a playoff berth in head coach Bill Parcells' first season with the team. New York swept last season's series.
- It hasn't taken long for Giants quarterback Eli Manning to live up to his namesake. Manning already has the NFC's second-highest passer rating (97.8) - behind only Cowboys' quarterback Drew Bledsoe's 102.0 passer rating.
- No team is averaging more than the Giants' 34.0 points per game. New York, whose 23 points in a loss to San Diego represented its lowest scoring output this season, has eclipsed the 40-point mark twice (42, 44) in four games.
- Wide receiver Plaxico Burress is off to the fastest start of his six-year career, already catching 25 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns. Burress broke the 200-yard mark with his 10-reception, 204-yard performance against St. Louis two weeks ago.
- Atlanta gave kicker Jay Feely the boot last off-season after the four-year player connected on only 78.3 percent of his field goal attempts last season. But Feely is the one doing the booting this season. He has yet to miss on eight attempts.
- New York's offense has improved considerably this season, and not just because of Eli Manning's development. The off-season signing of Burress has given Manning one of the league's best receivers when it comes to fighting for the ball in traffic. Burress is a terrific goal-line threat, as is tight end Jeremy Shockey. Along with their physical presence outside, running back Tiki Barber gives the Giants tremendous speed in the backfield. Barber, the fifth-leading rusher a year ago, has already carried 74 times for 333 yards and three scores this season.
- As good as New York's offense has been, their pass defense has been a complete disappointment. New York, ranked 31st in overall defense (425.2 yards per game) and pass defense (322.0), especially struggled in its 45-23 loss to San Diego. But to the Giants' credit, they have been aggressive in coverage, recording a second-best eight interceptions.
- Cowboys assistant head coach/quarterbacks Sean Payton - Spent four seasons with the New York Giants, the last three of which were as New York's offensive coordinator. Then-Giants quarterback Kerry Collins broke several franchise passing records under Payton's guidance, but Payton was stripped of play-calling duties seven games into the 2002 season. Payton joined New York as quarterbacks coach in 1999.
- Cowboys tight end Dan Campbell - Spent the first four years of career with New York after the Giants used a third-round pick on the former Texas A&M tight end in the 1999 draft. Campbell, used primarily as a blocker in New York, recorded career highs with 22 receptions for 175 yards in 2002. The Giants ultimately deemed Campbell expendable following the emergence of former first-round pick Jeremy Shockey at tight end, and Campbell signed with the Cowboys in 2003.
- Cowboys kicker Jose Cortez - Spent the 1999 and 2000 seasons with New York. Cortez played in one game during his stint with the Giants but never attempted any field goals.
New York has jumped out to quick leads in every game this season. In all, the Giants have outscored opponents 41-14 in the first quarter . . . No Giants players other than Burress and Shockey have recorded double-digit receptions . . . Backup running back Brandon Jacobs has two rushing touchdowns in 12 carries. The rookie runner has provided New York with a solid goal-line threat.