Cowboys @ Giants: A Look Ahead

Here's the meta-question when the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants this Sunday. Which streak has more power? The media-anticipated continuation of the woeful December streak by the Cowboys, or the Giants very real streak of losing five out of their last six contests?

I'll leave that to the football philosophers. Better yet, we'll settle it on the field.

What we do have is a game of significant playoff implications, and yes, it's time to talk playoffs. Not in the sense that Dallas is in the playoffs, but just tracking the progress toward the goal. At 8-3, the Cowboys sit in first place in the NFC East, one game ahead of Philadelphia, and two ahead of New York. If the Cowboys can beat the Giants, they'll essentially knock New York out of the East race. That would put them three games behind with only four to play. It would also severely damage their wild card hopes.

The NFC stacks up like this:
Saints 11-0 (probable South winners)
Vikings 10-1 (probable North winners)
Cowboys 8-3 (leading the East)
Cardinals 7-4 (leading the West)
Eagles 7-4 (WC as of now)
Packers 7-4 (WC as of now)
Giants 6-5
Falcons 6-5
49ers 5-6

The Giants are fighting for survival. Playing a desperate team is always dangerous, especially a rival who has talent on the roster. This will be no easy task for the Cowboys, and it's just the beginning of a tough stretch known around these parts simply as December.

The Giants problems are manifold. Big Blue View gives you a primer, here. They also got the bad news that LB Antonio Pierce will go on IR. In addition, there's plenty of concern about Eli Manning's ailing foot. 

Along the way, the Giants have lost their mystique along the defensive line, and their power running game is dissolving week by week.

Make no mistake though; this game just might be their season. And they're at home. The Cowboys will have to play quality football to win. We'll chat with Big Blue View later this week to get more on the Giants.

If all the Giants trendlines are in free fall, then the Cowboys trendlines are mostly moving up.

How many Cowboys fans thought that in Week 13 of the season the defense would be the second-ranked unit in the category - points allowed? They may not be getting the turnovers, and sometimes they go soft on third and longs, but they've been keeping offenses out of the endzone. After years of watching our defense play inconsistently, and sometimes outright poorly, we can finally start to believe in this unit. But the real tests are coming (San Diego, New Orleans, and this week), so let's see how they handle that.

The Cowboys are still a bit of an enigma though. When you look at who they beat and who they lost to, it's tough to get a clear read. They've only beaten two teams with current winning records - Philly and Atlanta. So they've beaten up a pretty soft schedule. Flip the coin though, and they've only lost to teams with winning records - New York, Denver and Green Bay. At least they've taken care of business with teams they should beat and didn't give any of those away. Part of the problem is the perception left by narrow escapes to bad teams Kansas City and Washington.

Even though the record is good, they control their own destiny in the NFC East, their defense has come together, and the offense can be explosive - questions still remain.

And with a December schedule that reads @ Giants, Chargers, @ Saints, @ Redskins and home against the Eagles, the Cowboys' past can either be purged, or repeated.

So which is more powerful, the Giants 2009 skid, or the Cowboys ghosts of December?

Tune in on Sunday.

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