Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: Cowboys Need D-Law & Gregory

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The Cowboys and Giants are still alive in this crazy playoff picture.

While they both need a loss from Washington to sneak in, it won't matter if they don't win earlier in the day this Sunday.

So here's what needs to happen for both teams.

The Giants will win if…

The Giants will win a hard-fought game against the Cowboys if they are able to create multiple turnovers from an offense that's been mistake-prone at times. The Giants' hard-working defense will fly to the ball with reckless abandon with their collective speed, quickness, and athleticism producing turnovers on big hits and strips. In addition, the Giants will snag interception on tipped or overthrown passes created from constant harassment in the pocket. To pull it off, the Giants must control the line of scrimmage on early downs to force Andy Dalton to throw in obvious passing situations. If the Giants are able to dictate the terms on first and second down, they can throw a blanket over the Cowboys' explosive aerial attack with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb capable of exploding at any time.

Offensively, the Giants must find a way to generate explosive plays on the ground and through the air against an improved Cowboys' defense. The emergence of Wayne Gallman as a workhorse gives the unit some juice but Daniel Jones is also capable of breaking off a big gainer on a designed QB run or zone-read play on the perimeter. In the passing game, the Giants could target Darius Slayton or Golden Tate on a deep ball to take advantage of an undisciplined secondary that fails to maintain discipline on a critical down. If the Giants take care of the ball while generating a few big plays that lead to points, they could knock off the Cowboys in a game that could decide the division crown.

The Cowboys will win if…

The Cowboys have reeled off three straight wins by playing clean, complementary football. The Cowboys' offense, defense, and special teams have worked together to create big plays and scoring opportunities. Against the Giants, the defense will need to continue their turnover spree by playing with outstanding effort and discipline for 60 minutes. Mike Nolan's unit will need to match the Giants' physicality at the line of scrimmage and force the G-Men to rely exclusively on Daniel Jones. The turnover-prone quarterback has a tendency to wilt under pressure and the Cowboys' frontline has the capacity to harass him with their collective speed and quickness. If DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are able to impose their will off the edges, Jones will give the ball away on a strip-sack or errant pass.

Offensively, the Cowboys can opt for a conservative approach that puts the ball in Ezekiel Elliott's hands 20-plus times as a runner. The veteran looked rejuvenated against the Eagles, and he could feast on a Giants' defense that's surrendered 100-plus rushing yards in each of their last four games. If the Cowboys are able to establish the ground game early and force the Giants to utilize some "plus one" fronts with one-on-one coverage on the outside, the combination of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb will eventually produce a big play on the perimeter. Considering the Giants' scoring woes, the Cowboys will walk out of the stadium with a win if they hit the magic number (24) and avoid costly turnovers.

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