For the Cowboys, every game is a must-win, as they are fighting for their playoff lives.
Keys to Victory
If the Cowboys want to win, they are going to need to establish the running game. This will control the clock, keeping the Giants' excellent defense on the field for long periods of time. Wearing these guys down will pay dividends at the end of the game.
Marion Barber III may be active, but will be a game-time decision.
If Barber can't go, Tashard Choice showed that he can hold his own against the best defenses in the league last week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also exhibited that he can pick up the blitz, which was a concern going into the game.
If Dallas can establish the run, Tony Romo should have a good day. It will force the Giants to respect the run, possibly bringing a strong safety up to help. This will leave one-on-one coverage with either Roy E. Williams or Terrell Owens.
The Giants defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, has said that he will be bringing more exotic blitzes that they ran earlier in the year.
Flozell Adams vs. Justin Tuck will be a war. Adams is a step slower and will need help from the running backs if Jason Garrett gets into pass-happy mode.
Barber and Choice will have to continue to pick up the blitz to give Romo that extra second he needs to get the ball downfield.
The Cowboys defense will need to stop the Giants prolific running attack first and foremost because the Giants ran for over 200 yards in the first match-up.
Thousand-yard rusher Brandon Jacobs has been ruled out, which is good news for Dallas. Jacobs has been unstoppable in short yardage.
With him out, Dallas has a chance to force punts and field goals on third-and-short situations. The Giants still have two excellent running backs in Derrik Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, so the Cowboys still need to bring their A-Game.
With Plaxico Burress suspended for the year, the Giants passing game is relying on second-tier receivers to carry the load. Dallas can go man-on-man with these receivers, allowing a strong safety to move up to stop the run.
Demarcus Ware, Zach Thomas, Anthony Spencer and Gregg Ellis will also need to stay in their gaps. This prevents backside cuts against the flow of the play. If they keep contain, it will eliminate any reverses.
Jay Ratliff needs to continue to dominate up front and get in Manning's face. If Ratliff can make Eli uncomfortable in the pocket and take an extra second, Ware has a better chance to get to him.
Without Burress, Manning will be looking for a mismatch with tight end Kevin Boss and his running backs out of the backfield. This also means that the linebackers can't miss assignments or the Giants will be getting big chunks underneath.
This game will come down to field position.
The punts and punt coverage were horrible against the Steelers. The weather will be nicer in Texas than it was in Pittsburgh, so Sam Paulescu will have no excuse this week.
Miles Austin should be playing this week, and hopefully he can return kickoffs, an area where Dallas has sorely missed him and Felix Jones.
Outside the Game
The Dallas Cowboys have been a media circus for the past week. If they aren't concentrating on this game, the Giants will roll over them.
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