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Cowboys vs. Giants: Know thy enemy

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Over at Big Blue View, ETVal is holding down the fort for the Giants faithful and doing every heterosexual male a favor by posting daily pics of Jessica Simpson. He also asked to exchange team scouting reports for the game. These are just some surface looks at the teams. Here's his report on the Giants.

The Dallas Cowboys have defeated the New York Giants twice -- scoring a healthy 76 points in the process.

Cowboys fans had to figure they were done with the Giants. So, how is it that the New York Giants are still standing? How did they get here to what is -- stunningly -- the first playoff meeting between these two long-time rivals?

There are few, if any, secrets between these two teams. Let me break down the Giants for you from a New York fan's perspective and see if I can help you understand why Giants' boosters are as optimistic right now as they have been at any time during the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning Era.

Offense

When you talk about the Giants' offense, that conversation has to begin and end with Eli Manning. As a Giants' fan, Eli has always been a source of frustration. Right now, however, he is coming off a brilliant 20-of-27 no-turnover game against Tampa Bay and a very good game against New England. Those may be the best back-to-back performances of his career. If that trend continues, the Giants will have a shot at an upset.

Other factors for the Giants are the improving health of Plaxico Burress, whose chronically bad ankle slowed him much of the year. He has been able to practice recently, though. In the running game, Dallas fans know about the power of Brandon Jacobs, but may not know much about the speed and big-play ability of Ahmad Bradshaw. The rookie 7th-round pick announced himself to the NFL with a 17-carry, 151-yard game against Buffalo a month ago. Sunday against Tampa Bay he provided 66 yards on 17 carries and was the guy the Giants turned to down the stretch to run out the clock. He provides a big play dimension from the backfield the Giants didn't have in their previous meetings with the Cowboys.

Defense

We all know Dallas has, for the most part, had its way with the Giants defense in two meetings. The first game was especially bad, as your Cowboys scored 45 points.

Am I foolish enough to think New York can completely shut the Cowboys down? No. I do, believe, though, that this defense has continued to improve throughout the season. You know about the league's best pass rush, but you may not know that as the season has progressed Michael Strahan has gotten better and better. Against Tampa Bay he was vintage old-time Strahan with 9 tackles, a sack and a slew of pressures.

The Giants' secondary is still vulnerable, but defensive end turned linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka isn't in the lineup any longer. That might make the middle of the field harder for Dallas to exploit in the passing game.

Special Teams

Domenic Hixon and Bradshaw have emerged as good returners, giving the Giants another threat they did not previously have.

Coaching

Tom Coughlin has resurrected his career this season. The Giants were a fractured team a year ago, but the team believes in Coughlin now and plays very hard. It's an amazing transformation.

Overview

The Cowboys will -- and should -- be the heavy favorites here. The Giants, though, are playing better football than they have at any time in the Coughlin/Manning Era so Giants' fans feel like our team has a chance. We will find out on Sunday.

ETVal - Big Blue View