Records: Cowboys (3-3); Giants (5-2)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Sept. 5, 2012: Cowboys 24, Giants 17; Jan. 1, 2012: Giants 31, Cowboys 14. Series record: Cowboys hold an 57-42-2-edge.
What matters: While it's a little early to talk about the NFC playoff picture, it does appear to be rather crowded with several teams expecting to challenge for the two wild card spots. That being said, the best way to handle that situation is to win the division. The Cowboys have some work to do, but beating the Giants and getting a sweep this season could be huge in a tiebreaker, and it would also knock the Giants to 1-3 in the division and put the Cowboys at 2-0. It's a long season with many twists and turns, but the Cowboys need this game for a legitimate chance at winning the division. If they fall to 3-4 and the Giants cruise to 6-2, it will be tough to overcome.
Who matters: The Cowboys will look to second-year player Phillip Tanner to handle the load in the running game Sunday. With DeMarco Murray likely out and Felix Jones banged up, it should be Tanner's time to shine. He got 13 carries against the Panthers last week for just 30 yards -- running mostly in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys were being conservative and trying to run out the clock. He has just 44 career attempts for 137 yards and one touchdown. But right now, he's the Cowboys' only viable option. Tanner has to be able to pick up some tough yards against the Giants' defense to keep the pass rush at a minimum.
Key matchups: The Cowboys were able to somewhat control Giants defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck in the season's first meeting. Since that game, the Giants are a bit healthier at cornerback and at defensive tackle, where former Cowboys draft pick Chris Canty returns. That should alleviate some of the pressure on Pierre-Paul, which could mean more pressure on Tony Romo. See how right tackle Doug Free fares when he's facing either Tuck or Pierre-Paul. Tyron Smith has done well on the left side, but Free at right tackle should be the spot to watch.
Injuries of note: The Cowboys were already banged up heading into last week's game, and although they were able to beat the Panthers, they couldn't beat this injury bug that continues to plague them. It got even worse with the loss of Sean Lee (toe), who needs surgery and is out for the season. Center Phil Costa (sprained ankle) is out at least two more weeks, and running back DeMarco Murray (foot) is expected to miss his second straight game. Backup Felix Jones (knee) is questionable.
Inside stuff: Cowboys' third receiver Kevin Ogletree had the game of his life against the Giants in Week 1, catching a career-high eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys' 24-17 win. Since that eight-catch performance, Ogletree has had a total of only 13 receptions in the next five games for 134 yards and no touchdowns. Ogletree was able to exploit a Giants secondary that was banged up before and during that game. The Cowboys want to get him on track to open up things for Miles Austin and Dez Bryant,and considering the success he had in the first meeting, this could be the game he does that.
Stats you should know: The Cowboys have anything but a home-field advantage at Cowboys Stadium, especially against Eli Manning and the Giants. Since the stadium opened in 2009, the Cowboys are just 15-13 at home -- and just 8-10 in the last three seasons. Against the Giants, who won the first-ever game at Cowboys Stadium in 2009, the Cowboys are 0-3. The Giants aren't just winning the games but are scoring points in the process, averaging exactly 37 points per game in the three meetings at Cowboys Stadium.
Looking ahead: This is the start of arguably the toughest three-game stretch of the season for the Cowboys, who go on the road for two straight games after getting the defending champs. The Cowboys will play at undefeated Atlanta and then Philadelphia. After that, they play five of their last seven at home.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 27