New York Giants
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Giants set for big game against Cowboys
Like every other NFL team in Week 1, the New York Giants' goal was to win the division.
Coming out of the gate, the Giants seemed off to a promising start, just barely squeaking out a 20-19 win over the Dallas Cowboys. But since that game, the Cowboys have been tearing up the league with 11 straight wins and now have their crosshairs set on the Giants, whom they face Sunday night in MetLife Stadium.
No one on the Giants is exactly shaking in their shoes regarding the Cowboys, but as they have done with every team they've faced, the Giants have given the opponent their props when asked about them and are expecting an intense battle to ensue.
"It's a big game. It's excitement," said quarterback Eli Manning. "These are games you look forward to. It's fun playing meaningful games in December. I think when you get into December and the other teams are fighting for playoff spots, teams are trying to win the division and give yourself a chance."
But a lot has changed since the Giants saw the Cowboys at the start of the season.
"Defensively, they've gotten a few guys back," said Manning. "They're getting a good rush on the quarterback. They're doing a lot of their same scheme. They're doing a good job keeping guys out of the end zone. Their defense has kept them tight in games not a whole lot of teams are scoring a lot of points."
Manning is correct because in seven of their 11 wins, the Cowboys' defense has not allowed an opponent to score more than 17 points.
It's on the offensive side of the ball where the Cowboys have taken the biggest leap forward. This season the Cowboys have a league-leading 29 scoring drives of 10 or more plays, with 14 of those cumulating in touchdowns, also a league best.
That success has largely been a result of a pair of rookies, quarterback Dak Prescott, whose 67.9 completion percentage is fifth among quarterbacks with 200 or more pass attempts, and running back Ezekiel Elliott, the rushing yardage leader with 1,285 yards.
"These are two rare rookies," said linebacker Jonathan Casillas. "When you have people like this playing this late in the season, this well and this young, it is very rare to see that and very rare to find it. But they are doing it at a high level.
"They learned on the go. They are playing like they have a lot more experience than they actually do and we are going to have our hands full. Dak has gotten better since Week 1 and Zeke has gotten better since Week 1."
Casillas said the continued growth of the two rookies as well as the gelling of the rest of the Cowboys' offense has been the biggest difference from that first week.
"They are definitely a better team, a more experienced quarterback. I think that is what it really was the first game," he said. "They figured out exactly what they wanted to do to teams and they have been doing it very well. They look like an 11-1 team."
While there is still an outside chance of the Giants catching the NFC East leaders, the Giants must win their remaining four games and hope that the Cowboys lose another game along the way.
Should the two teams end up tied for first place, the Giants would then own the head-to-head tiebreaker if they can sweep the season series for the first time since 2011.
"We have to have great preparation," said Manning. "It's going to be a great environment on Sunday night."
SERIES HISTORY: 109th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 62-44-2. The Giants have been the only team this season to defeat the Cowboys, doing so in Week 1 with a 20-19 victory at Dallas. A Giants win on Sunday will mark their first season sweep of the Cowboys since 2011 and their third straight regular-season victory over the Cowboys.