SERIES HISTORY: 109th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 62-44-2. The Giants have been the only team this season to defeat the Cowboys, doing so in Week 1 with a 20-19 victory at Dallas. A Giants win on Sunday will mark their first season sweep of the Cowboys since 2011 and their third straight regular-season victory over the Cowboys.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
With the right variables clicking into place Sunday, the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East and avenge the only blemish on their 2016 record -- a one-point loss to the Giants (20-19) in the season opener.
The Giants almost entirely erased rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott in his NFL debut (20 carries, 51 yards, season-low 2.6 yards per carry), but a lot has changed since that September evening in Arlington.
The Giants allowed their first 100-yard rusher (Le'Veon Bell, 118 yards on 29 carries) and had no answers to stop tight end Ladarius Green (six catches for 110 yards and a TD).
This week, the Giants' defense will get another difficult challenge when it faces Elliott, the league's leading rusher at 4.9 yards per carry, and longtime Giants killer Jason Witten, who has caught 142 of 196 pass targets for 1,463 yards and 13 touchdowns in 27 games against the Giants.
In their first meeting, the Giants held down both Elliott and Witten (nine receptions for 66 yards). Since then, both have blossomed in the offense now led by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
Scoring might be an equally difficult challenge for the Giants. Eli Manning hasn't topped 200 yards in either of the past two games.
One matchup the Giants like is RB Shane Vereen -- who could be activated after practicing this week -- against Dallas' linebackers.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Cowboys TE Jason Witten vs. Giants S Landon Collins. Given the Giants' struggles with covering tight ends this season -- they've allowed 63 pass receptions for 793 yards and three touchdowns -- the Giants must find a way to keep Witten in check. Collins is becoming an emotional and physical leader for the Giants. He won't be solo on Witten, with Dez Bryant looming as a vertical threat and the defense focused on stuffing Elliott.
--Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Cowboys CB Anthony Brown. Brown has acquitted himself well in recent matchups against top receivers. None were as explosive as Beckham, who has 75 catches for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns. The Giants will try to unleash Beckham to spark their struggling offense. Brown can't get lost or go to sleep. He will need to be at his best to contain him.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT:
--Questionable: S Barry Church (forearm), DE Jack Crawford (foot), LB Justin Durant (hamstring), DE Demarcus Lawrence (back), CB Orlando Scandrick (foot, not injury related), T Tyron Smith (back)
NEW YORK GIANTS
--Out: S Nat Berhe (concussion), LB Mark Herzlich (concussion), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle)
--Update The New York Giants activated running back Shane Vereen from the injured reserve list for Sunday night's home game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Vereen has missed the last nine games with a triceps injury suffered in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins. The six-year veteran underwent surgery and returned to practice last week when he was designated for return from IR.
Vereen participated in his first padded practice on Thursday since the surgery.
Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens. A starter all season in the middle in place of the suspended Rolando McClain and a regular contributor since his rookie year because of his ability to play all three linebacker positions, Hitchens often gets overlooked with the Cowboys' defense in constant search for an impact player. His playmaking ability at the heart of the front seven will be critical in allowing the secondary to focus on New York's talented wide receiver corps.
A win would make the Cowboys 12-1 for only the second time in franchise history and extend their franchise record to 12 wins.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,285) and is second in yards from scrimmage (1,607).
Manning has 1,241 passing yards, with nine touchdowns and one interception in his past five home games vs. Dallas.
Since entering the NFL in 2014, Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. ranks second in touchdown catches (33) and third in receiving yards (3,770).
If the Giants can generate a pass rush and find a spark in their running game, the keep-away approach could serve them well for a second time this season. But if Eli Manning has to carry the offense, the Cowboys could have the division title -- and possibly home-field advantage if the Lions and Seahawks cooperate -- wrapped up when the clock strikes midnight Sunday.
OUR PICK: Giants, 27-24.