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John J. Raspanti
The New York Giants (5-2) travel to Dallas in search of their fourth straight win and some payback. The Cowboys (3-3) shocked the Giants 24-17 to open this years NFL season.
Since losing to Philadelphia, the Giants have reeled off three impressive victories. They beat Cleveland, dominated the San Francisco 49ers, and snuck past a determined Washington Redskin squad.
Cowboy owner Jerry Jones told a crowd of Dallas fans at training camp that his team would "beat the Giants (butts)' when New York visited Dallas stadium this week.
Safety Antrel Rolle was amused by Jones' words.
"As far as Jerry Jones' comment, we really don't pay that any attention," Rolle said.
Giant quarterback Eli Manning is having a standout season. Manning has completed almost 64 percent of his passes. He's thrown for 12 touchdowns. The Giant offense ranks second in the league with an average of 295 yards threw the air. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw has rushed for 492 yards. Backup running back Andre Brown is averaging five yards a carry. Wide receiver Victor Cruz is easily Manning's favorite target. The third year pro has caught 50 passes and scored seven touchdowns.
Dallas has struggled at times this season, but another victory over the Giants would put them right back in contention for a division crown.
"When you think about NFC East games, the way that they are playing, if you're not able to get wins early against big teams, it can come back to haunt you," said Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Quarterback Tony Romo has bounced back after a terrible game against the Chicago Bears. Romo's stats are still average (eight touchdown passes, nine interceptions) but his completion percentage is a healthy 68 percent. Leading rusher DeMarco Murray is still recovering from a foot injury. His availability this Sunday is doubtful. New York has been susceptible to the run this season, giving up an average of 126 yards.
Backup running back Felix Jones has a bruised knee. Second year man Phillip Tanner will need to step up. Romo's favorite targets are Dez Bryant (36 catches) and Jason Witten (33). Miles Austin is still dangerous.
Dallas' fourth ranked defense figures to be less effective without leading tackler Sean Lee. The starting linebacker was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Lee will miss the rest of the season because of ligament damage to his right big toe.
The Giants are -2 point road favorites here and rightly so. They are the much better football team on both sides of the ball despite having lost at home to Dallas in the opener. Dallas has similar problems to the Stellers. The Cowboys may rank high defensively when it comes to yardage given up, but that doesn't do a team any good if you can't keep opponents out of the end zone. They have a defensive yards per point number of 13.1 which places them 27th in the NFL. The Giants rank 5th.
Ditto on offense for Dallas. They may gain some yards offensively, but they can't convert those yards into points. Their yards per point number on offense is 19.9, 31st in the NFL. The Giants are 12th.
Only one way to look here. No chance of the Giants not being focused for this divisional matchup after dropping the first game. At -2, we're just being asked to pick the winner here and that winner will be the New York Football Giants. Giants -2
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