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Giants vs. Cowboys Storylines: What to watch for


Here are the storylines to follow as the Giants begin prep for Week 14:


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Since falling by one point to the New York Giants in the season opener, the Dallas Cowboys have taken the NFL by storm in 2016, winning 11 straight games and building the best record in the league. On Sunday night, they meet again with the division title and playoff berths on the line. The 8-4 Giants, whose six-game winning streak came to an end last week in Pittsburgh, still hold the first Wild Card spot with Tampa Bay (7-5) and Washington (6-5-1) on their heels. The Cowboys, who were the first team to clinch a playoff spot this year, can win their second NFC East title in three years with a victory at MetLife Stadium.

"When you get into December and teams are fighting for playoff spots and trying to win the division and give yourself a chance, it's a big game," quarterback Eli Manning said. "It's excitement, and these are games you look forward to. It's fun playing meaningful games in December."


Behind Manning's second of back-to-back games with fewer than 200 passing yards and a 56-yard output by the team on the ground, the Giants have fallen to 26th in total yards per game (327.4) and are tied for 23rd in points (20.4). Those are well below their 2015 numbers when they ranked eighth in yards (372.3) and sixth in points (26.3).

"We are who we are right now," said coach Ben McAdoo, who was the Giants' offensive coordinator the previous two seasons. "We need to go back to work. You can't just flip a switch and have things change. You have to put work into it. It has to pay dividends for you."

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cowboys


After racking up 5.5 sacks in the previous two games and being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul left in the second quarter of the game against the Steelers with a groin injury and did not return. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (bruised quad) also had to leave but was able to return. Left guard Justin Pugh (knee) missed his fourth game in a row, while linebacker Mark Herzlich (concussion), safety Nat Berge (concussion) and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa (knee) were inactive last week in Pittsburgh.


Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott made their NFL debuts in Week 1 against the Giants, but they have come a long way since then as they currently stand first and second, respectively, in Pro Bowl voting by fans. Elliott leads the NFL with 1,285 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Prescott has the third-best passer rating in the league at 108.6. Only Tom Brady (113.1) and Matt Ryan (112.3) are better in that regard.

"Well, I mean, these are two rare rookies," linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. "When you have people like this playing this late in the season this well, and this young, it's very rare to see that, very rare to find it. But they're doing it at a high level since Week 1."


Offensively, the Cowboys are fourth in total yards per game (395.7), 19th in passing (239.8), second in rushing (155.8) and fifth in points (27.8). That has added up to a league-leading average time of possession of 32:20. Elliott has a 242-yard cushion in the 2016 NFL rushing title race while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Prescott is fifth in the NFL with a 67.9 completion percentage and has thrown 19 touchdowns to only two interceptions. Wide receiver Cole Beasley leads the team in targets (77) and receiving yards (670), while Dez Bryant is first with six touchdown catches.

Defensively, Dallas is 18th in yards allowed (358.5), 29th against the pass (276.3), second against the run (82.3) and fifth in points allowed (19.0). Linebacker Sean Lee leads the team with 112 tackles. The Cowboys are tied for 22nd in the league with 23 sacks, including a team-high 3.5 from Tyrone Crawford. They are tied for 13th with a plus-two turnover differential. Dan Bailey, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, is 21 of 23 this season with a long of 56 yards.

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