According to the playoff simulations at NFL-Forecast.com, the Cowboys currently have a 68.5 percent chance of making the playoffs, and the Giants a 36.3 percent chance. The site also offers a nifty little tool that allows you to calculate playoff probabilities based on the team efficiency ratings at AdvancedNFLStats.
Here's how the playoff probabilities play out for the Cowboys and Giants based on the outcome of Sunday's game:
|Playoff Probability||DAL Win||NYG Win|
The swing in playoff probabilities is so significant, depending on the outcome of the game, that the game on Sunday is easily the most important game of the season for both teams.
After the break, we look at some of the latest headlines as we prepare for Sunday's showdown.
Giants-Cowboys will be like a heavyweight title fight - NorthJersey.com
The two go at it again Sunday night in the NFC East’s version of the desperation bowl. Staggered or not, they are the last two teams standing. And they are looking for a knockout.
"Consistent with what the commissioner wants – divisional games late in the year where they really count," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "They count all the time, don’t get me wrong on that one."
"You want your team to feel a sense of urgency every week," Garrett echoed. "You only get 16 cracks at these things. We understand the challenges and the implications of this game. They are significant." Ring the bell. Here we go.
Cowboys Are Predictably Unpredictable - NBC Sports
Mike Tanier from Football Outsiders takes a hard look at the Cowboys for NBC Sports and concludes that there is no real mystery to the Cowboys’ inconsistency: The defense is over-reliant on 3 playmakers, while injuries have sapped the running game.
Tanier writes that the Cowboys are inconsistent because their running game relies on a rookie running back and a fullback who missed several games with an illness. On defense, they are reliant on a handful of stars to make big plays, and the veteran placeholders who fill out the lineup are vulnerable to opponents who can find them.
For now, he advises Cowboys fans to take heart in the fact that "inconsistent" and "unpredictable" are much better than "terrible." The Cowboys are in first place, and they are young enough to get better, even if they do leave the occasional victory on the table.
NFL.com news: Austin, Fiammetta practice, hope to provide lift for Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are excited about regaining wide receiver Miles Austin and fullback Tony Fiammetta right before Sunday's battle with the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East.
"We feel like we have a rejuvenated offense," said Laurent Robinson, who then did his best Jason Garrett imitation: "We're excited about this week and the challenge ahead of us."
Dallas Cowboys secondary problems surface again - Sporting News
The Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill, moonlighting for the Sporting News, points out that the Cowbioys secondary gave up too many passing yards in their recent four-game winning streak to mediocre quarterbacks in Rex Grossman and Matt Moore, and that continued against Arizona.
Part of the reason for that, Hill opines, is that the Cowboys play a lot of man coverage, making the secondary vulnerable especially when the pass rush is not effective. Against the Cardinals, the Cowboys recorded four of their five sacks in the first half.
New York Giants' front four need to step up - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
The Giants' vaunted front four need to step up if they want to have a shot at beating the Cowboys. In their last two games, versus the Packers and Saints, the Giants have given up more than 1,000 yards. They only sacked Rodgers twice and didn't sack Brees at all.
Ware thinks Tuck is Cowboy wannabe - New York Daily News
DeMarcus Ware has a simple theory about Justin Tuck. To the Dallas Cowboys’ pass-rusher, Tuck is nothing more than a desperate wannabe. And every time Tuck trashes the Cowboys, every time he talks about how much he "hates" Dallas and how he thinks Cowboys Stadium a dump, Ware feels a sense of pity for the struggling Giants defensive lineman.
"He says that because maybe he wants to play here," Ware told reporters in Irving, Tex., on Wednesday. "Everybody wants to play for the Cowboys. If I wasn’t playing for the Cowboys I would call it that too, because I want to play for them."
Two of Ware's defensive teammates also rip into the Giants - NYPOST.com
Cornerback Mike Jenkins labeled Brandon Jacobs "a big bully" and defensive end Marcus Spears vowed to "get after their necks" Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium.
Laurent Robinson, Dallas, receiver -- He has more catches (42) and receiving yards (626) than the Cowboys' presumed No. 1 receiver, Miles Austin, more touchdowns (seven) than Tony Romo's favorite target, tight end Jason Witten (five) and the same number of scoring receptions as big-play receiver Dez Bryant. Not bad for a fifth-year receiver who's already playing for his third NFL team, and who entered 2011 with just four touchdown catches in his first four seasons.
Robinson has scored all seven of his touchdowns in Dallas' past six games (the Cowboys are 4-2 in that span), and his 14.9-yard average catch trails only Bryant's 15.5-yard average among Cowboys with at least 10 receptions. With a whole month of the season remaining, Robinson has established career highs in every major receiving category.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas, running back -- Despite not getting any significant playing time until Week 7, Murray is a lock to run for 1,000 yards and lead all rookie rushers. His 872 yards on the ground includes a 5.5-yard average gain, tied for the league lead among running backs with at least 100 carries. Despite having 27 fewer attempts, Murray has gained the same amount of yards as the great Adrian Peterson, his fellow former Oklahoma Sooner.
But Murray wasn't a first-round pick like Peterson. He was taken in the third round this year, 71st overall, the sixth running back selected. The five rushers taken ahead of him have combined for 1,035 yards, just 163 more than what Murray has managed alone. Though he has cooled off somewhat in the past three games, Murray had a four-game streak where he averaged a ridiculous 10.1, 9.3, 6.3 and 6.8 yards per carry, sparking a 3-1 Dallas run.