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Giants vs. Cowboys: 8 things to watch for


  1. Changes to the offensive line.**


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The Giants have started the same five offensive linemen in all 10 games this season, but that will change on Sunday night when they host the Dallas Cowboys, who are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East lead. Not only is right tackle Justin Pugh, who had started every game there since Week 1 of his rookie year last season, ruled out for the game with a quadriceps injury, but veteran Geoff Schwartz is ready to play in his first game this season after being activated off injured reserve/designated for return. 

"We have some guys moving around right now competing for spots," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. "Anytime that you have competition, it's a good thing. It's a good thing for your football team, it's a good thing for that unit and it's a good thing for the individuals. … You roll them in there. Whoever has the best week of preparation plays."

2. Last-place run defense vs. NFL's leading rusher.

After giving up 498 yards on the ground over the last two weeks, the Giants fell to 32nd in the NFL against the run. They will have an opportunity to make a statement against the Cowboys and running back DeMarco Murray, who leads the NFL with 1,233 rushing yards. Second place is 282 yards off his pace.

3. DRC vs. Dez

Playing through hamstring and back issues, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was limited in his first meeting with wide receiver Dez Bryant in Week 7. Rodgers-Cromartie will look to put his best foot forward this time against Bryant, who finished with nine catches for 151 yards in the Cowboys' 31-21 victory in October.

4. Eli's response.

Keep an eye on these 5 players during Sunday's night game vs. the Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback Eli Manning shouldered last week's loss to San Francisco after throwing five interceptions, which nearly doubled his season total up to that point. Now he will look to bounce back on the 10th anniversary of when he took over as starting quarterback on Nov. 21, 2004. "I love what I'm doing," Manning said. "Football can seem great at times and you feel like you have the best job in the world. Sometimes it's tough, but I still feel I've got the best job in the world. You go through tough stretches; we're going through one now. It has not been easy and there have been down moments, but I still love the competition of it, love the preparation of it and just love that feeling of having a great week of work and going to get a win. That feeling in the locker room, that satisfaction, working hard to get that feeling again."

5. Rashad 2.0.

Rashad Jennings returned last week from a four-game absence due to a knee injury suffered in Week 5, and ran the ball 18 times for 59 yards against the Niners. Sunday will be his first game in the Giants-Cowboys rivalry. "I think he played well," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said of Jennings' return. "He may have been a little bit rusty but that will disappear."

6. Injury report and game statuses.

Out: DT Cullen Jenkins (calf), T Justin Pugh (quadriceps) and LB Jacquian Williams (concussion).

Probable: DE Mathias Kiwanuka (knee), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back/hamstring) and G Geoff Schwartz (toe).

7. Cowboys tight ends.

While perennial All-Pro Jason Witten was limited to two catches for 27 yards in the first leg of the season series, it was the second tight end, Gavin Escobar, who did damage a month ago against the Giants. Including the first score of the game, Escobar caught two touchdowns from 15 and 26 yards for the Cowboys. The Giants can't overlook either this Sunday.

8. Keep fighting.

Looking to end a five-game skid, the Giants (3-7) sit four games off the NFC East lead with six games to play. Coughlin's message to the team this week was: "Keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting, that is all it takes, one game at a time, bounce back. Again, it is about all of those eyes that look at me on Wednesday morning, I am thinking about them, quite frankly, trying to bring them through the disappointment toward the next opponent." Dallas is that next opponent.

Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 12 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys

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