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Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: How the Giants defeat the Cowboys

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The Giants (4-9) will try to prevent the Cowboys (9-4) from clinching the NFC East on Sunday, which Dallas can do with a win and a Washington loss in Week 15.

Big Blue lost the first leg of the season series in Dallas by 24 points but will look to stay undefeated against divisional opponents at MetLife Stadium in the Joe Judge era. They are 4-0 against the NFC East at home since 2020, including a victory over the Dak Prescott-less Cowboys in the season finale. But the Giants have an uphill battle. While quarterback Daniel Jones is unlikely to play for a third consecutive week due to a neck injury, the Giants are also dealing with seven players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

"Obviously this is a very tough opponent," Judge said. "We're going to have to be dedicated this week, do our best preparation, give ourselves a chance on Sunday."

Here are three keys to victory for the Giants:

Where is No. 11 (and No. 7)?

Giants coaches often talk about identifying "game-wreckers" as the first step to preparing for their upcoming opponents. Take your pick with the Cowboys' defense. Since Week 9, rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, the 12th overall pick who wears No. 11 on his jersey, leads the NFL in sacks, quarterback hits, and forced fumbles (tied). Parsons is the first player with at least 75 tackles and 12.0 sacks through his team's first 13 games since Pittsburgh's James Harrison in 2008. Harrison won NFL Defensive Player of the Year that season.

"It's a great challenge," quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said. "He's a great player and I think their defense is great in general. (Cowboys Defensive Coordinator) Dan Quinn's done a great job with that. Those guys are physical, relentless, they attack. They get on you real tight in coverage. They're really good across the board. I think going along with Parsons, they've done a nice job. He's a unique guy. He can play in the middle. He can play on the edge. He can play lined up over the center. He can line up over the three-technique as we saw last game and run the pick games and the stunts and just straight rush guys. He's a real challenge. You've got to know where he's at on every play, but they've got so many good players, too. That helps him get isolated a little bit, too. So it's a challenge all the way across the board."

Meanwhile, Trevon Diggs, who wears No. 7, leads the NFL with nine interceptions this season. The Cowboys rank second with 27 takeaways this season, including a league-leading 20 interceptions.

Stop the run

In their nine wins this season, the Cowboys averaged 32.9 carries for 154 yards with 10 touchdowns. In their four losses, they averaged 17.5 rushing attempts for 71 yards with just one touchdown. Making the Cowboys one-dimensional will accentuate the possible loss of perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith, who re-injured his ankle last week. Smith previously missed three games with injury from Weeks 9-11 as Dallas went 1-2.

"It starts with the run game and their commitment to the run game," assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "You can see the commitment through just the economics of how their team is set up, whether it's Zeke (Elliott), whether it's (Tony) Pollard, who's a very good player. They're lucky to have him as a number two. On most teams, he would be a number one, I can see that. The commitment to the offensive line. I think it starts there, him being a good player and having a lot of weapons around him. And he's a pretty smart player. You can see him and the combination with (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Kellen (Moore) just getting him the opportunity."

Force them to settle

The Cowboys' offense ranks in the top six in total yards, points, passing, rushing, yards per play, and big plays. If there is one area of weakness, it is the red zone. Dallas is 24th in the league scoring touchdowns on just 55.3 percent of its trips inside the 20. Conversely, it's a strength for the Giants' defense, which leads the NFL with six takeaways in the red zone. They have allowed touchdowns on just 53.8 percent of opponents' trips to the red zone, the 10th-best rate in the league.

View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their NFC East matchup against the Cowboys.

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