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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Giants Defense Faces Daunting Task Versus Cowboys

Latest Cowboys headlines: Are Tyrone Crawford, Cowboys close to a long term deal? Are Cowboys prepared for a lot of blitzing from the Giants? Is the NFC East the No. 2 division in the NFL?

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Giants’ Steve Spagnuolo Faces Daunting Task Against Cowboys - CBS New York
Missing a pass rusher, a middle linebacker, and a whole armada of safeties, Spags will have his hands full on Sunday. The Cowboys scored 31 points in both of their wins last year, and combined for 60 points in their sweep of the 2013 series.

Spagnuolo also needs some other things to happen. His defensive tackles have to hold to point of attack and stop the run, and someone on the line has to win the one-on-one battles to pressure Romo when he is forced to throw.

It will be interesting to see how it turns out for Spags and his defense.

NFL Week 1 predictions: Which teams will win and why
Dan Graziano, Giants writer for ESPN, offers a bleak outlook for the game.

Remember Odell Beckham Jr.'s one-handed touchdown catch against the Cowboys in November? Of course you do. Who doesn’t? But do you also remember that the Cowboys won that game? The Cowboys won both games against the Giants last season. And both the year before. These franchises are not headed in similar directions right now, and the Cowboys’ offensive line is a mismatch for a Giants’ defensive front that’s loaded with question marks. Cowboys 35, Giants 24

WR Victor Cruz, LB Jon Beason ruled out vs. Cowboys - Giants.com
Cruz and Beason will sit out Sunday's season opener.

Scout’s Eye: Blitz Pickup One Of Biggest Keys To Week 1 | Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus expects a lot of blitzing from the Giants, largely because the Giants secondary could quickly be stretched too thin against the Cowboys offensive weapons.

Spagnuolo knows that by rushing only four at Tony Romo there is a good chance that he will expose his secondary. What I believe we will see from Spagnuolo is that he will test these Cowboys running backs, both mentally and physically, to pick up the blitz.

If Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar struggle to recognize and execute, then Spagnuolo will get exactly what he needs to protect his secondary. But if these Cowboys running backs have success handling the pressure, then Spagnuolo's defense is likely in for a long night and the Cowboys will come away with the victory.

Giants at Cowboys: What to watch for - CBSSports.com
Jason La Canfora drops a couple of nuggets in his pregame observations that I found interesting:

Can the Giants stop anyone? You have to wonder about the ability to get to the quarterback aside from whatever scheme they can whip up, and anytime you are signing a brutal safety like Brandon Meriweather late in camp, well, you've got problems on the back end as well.

Expect Tony Romo to be in the NFL MVP conversation for a long time, like probably all season long. Not sure anyone in the NFC East can play real defense.

Giants at Cowboys 2015, Week 1: Five things to watch Sunday night - Big Blue View
Ed Valentine writes that the key for a Giants win is for the front seven to get something done against the Cowboys O-line. No small task.

The Cowboys have an offensive line considered to be the league's best. The Giants have a defensive line and front seven that is considered, well, unproven. If the Giants are going to have any chance of slowing Tony Romo and the Dallas offense they have to be able to hold their own at the line of scrimmage.

The Giants MIGHT be able to be disruptive without Pierre-Paul. Johnathan Hankins is a good player. Devon Kennard could be a star in the making. Robert Ayers is solid. There is potential with guys like Damontre Moore, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn and Jay Bromley. To be successful, though, the Giants need that potential to translate into performance.

Twitter mailbag: Cowboys not worried about Jasper Brinkley - Todd Archer, ESPN
A reader wonders if the Cowboys will alter their gameplan in any way now that the Giants signed Jasper Brinkley, and Archer offers an emphatic "No."

The Cowboys didn't think he was good enough for them to make their team, I doubt they will be worried about what Jasper Brinkley can do for the Giants. I think we make way too much about former players giving information to their new teams. I would venture to guess Brinkley really wouldn't have an idea about anything the Cowboys do offensively or what they have planned for the Giants. Can he help New York's offense with some ideas about the Cowboys' defense? Maybe a little but, like everything in the NFL, it comes down to execution.

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How Jason Garrett of Dallas Cowboys has put his imprint on franchise - J.J. Taylor, ESPN
Garrett shields much of his personality from the public, but his players swear by him as an inspirational and motivational voice within the locker room, JJT writes. Here's Dez Bryant as an example.

"Coach Garrett, he's one of a kind," Dez Bryant said. "I honestly do give him a whole lot of credit for me understanding his offense and him making sure I'm doing everything I'm supposed to. It took time, because he's a perfection-type guy.

"The structure that he lays out in front of us, it makes sense. I think, if you want to be a better person, I'd advise you to listen to him, because the things that Coach Garrett teaches and preaches are amazing, and I love him.

"I love him because he helped me become a better player -- not by the things that we do on the field, just in life, period."

Randy Gregory Says He Has "A Lot More to Prove" After Promising Preseason | Scott Crisp, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Crisp writes that while Gregory's confidence has been helped by a productive preseason, but the real test begins on Sunday night when the Giants come to town.

"I’ve always said it’s preseason and not all of them were against first-team offenses and a couple of them I kind of fell into them," Gregory said, per Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas. "So I wasn’t as happy with my play as other people were. I think it’s a stepping stone for sure, but I’m never satisfied. I think I have a lot more to prove out there."

Tyrone Crawford, Cowboys working on long-term deal - NFL.com
The Cowboys and working aggressively to finalize a new contract for defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Crawford, 25, was one of Dallas' standouts last season, finishing with 29 quarterback hurries and 12 QB hits after moving from defensive end to under tackle in Rod Marinelli's defense.

The 81st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft recently placed 15th in Around The NFL's "Making the Leap" rankings, which highlight players on the verge of a breakout season.

Cowboys elect five captains for the 2015 season | Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Teammates elected Sean Lee, Jason Witten, Barry Church, Tony Romo, and Dan Bailey as their captians.

Cowboys enter season confident running back committee can replace DeMarco Murray - USA Today
Man, I am so friggin tired of all these Cowboys running back stories. At the end of the day, if the team thought they had an issue, they'd have thrown some serious resources against it. A conditional seventh round pick for the fourth guy on the depth chart is chump change, not a serious resource.

Some feel there may not be any drop-off without Murray. Hall of Fame offensive lineman Rayfield Wright, who played for the Cowboys from 1967 to 1979, believes the offensive line’s ability will allow any running back to shine.

"If you played behind our line in the ‘70s or Troy (Aikman’s) line in the ‘90s or this line right here that’s being developed now," he said, "any running back can run the ball. This offensive line is developing into a great offensive line. They just need to stay healthy."

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2015 NFL Predictions | FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight has relaunched its NFL Elo power ratings with a nifty interactive chart that lets you track where each NFL team stands in the playoff race and how likely it is to win each game. Elo ratings are a simple system that estimates each team’s skill level using only the final scores and locations of each game.

Power-Ranking the NFL’s Divisions - Grantland
Robert Mays ranks the eight divisions from top to bottom, and has the NFC East come in at No.. 2 overall.

The over/under totals for the Cowboys and Eagles (9.5 for each) are more pessimistic than I am. If the Dallas offense can stay almost as healthy as it was a year ago, the Cowboys could easily put together 11 wins and take the division again. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s strength is that outside the secondary, it’s better suited to deal with injuries than almost any team in the league. Chip Kelly showed what he could do last season with a combination of Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles and a piecemeal offensive line. There aren’t many outcomes in which the Eagles do worse than 9-7.

As for the Giants, it’s at least possible to envision a world in which Eli Manning plays slightly better than he did a year ago and the offense hums, but the defense is likely to be so paper-thin that it ultimately won’t matter all that much.

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Cole Beasley Takes Leading Role In Latest Tide Commercial | Shannon Gross, Dallas Cowboys
Beasley may not be particularly big, but he did land a big endorsement deal with Tide.

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Get your picks in for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge!

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If you haven't yet submitted your picks, now would be a good time. Here's the link to the entry form.

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Alternative Pick 256 Entry Form

As of the wee hours this morning, we had exactly 500 participants submit their picks for Week 1. In the voting so far, the Cowboys are favored over the Giants by a margin of 496-4. In other NFC East games, Miami is favored over Washington by 495-5, while Philly is favored over Atlanta to the tune of 308-192.