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Better Know the Enemy: Dallas Cowboys

A look ahead at this week's Giants foe

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Oct 25, 2012  |  Updated 10:19 AM EDT
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Better Know the Enemy: Dallas Cowboys

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The Giants get a chance to pay Romo back this weekend.

Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Giants' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Dallas Cowboys.

Giants fans might have a few words of encouragement for this week's opponent, the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys have hit an oil slick of fairly large proportions over the last couple of weeks, and the strain is showing everywhere you look. Linebacker Sean Lee is out for the season, running back DeMarco Murray is out at least one more week with a foot injury and Jason Garrett gets ripped every single week for some decision. Plenty of speculation about sweeping offseason changes have already started. 

Giants fans have been there -- just last year, in fact -- and in other circumstances they might regale a team in such straits with stories about Next Man Up and how teams with their backs against the wall fight even harder. Instead, they're probably just snickering about their good fortune at catching the Cowboys at such a moment. 

This game represents a crucial moment in the Cowboys season as they try to climb back over .500 and sweep the season series from the Giants. If they can pull that off, a lot of the dark clouds that have gathered over the team in the last few weeks will clear out because the path to the playoffs will be very clear in Dallas. 

That should also sound familiar to those that follow the Giants. Had the Cowboys won the meeting in Dallas last season, something they were very close to doing, the season and offseason would have gone a lot differently in both places. 

It's much earlier in the season this time, but the stakes feel almost as high for the Cowboys. The roof feels about ready to cave in on Garrett, Tony Romo and everybody else, an event that will only become likelier to happen if they should lose this game. 

That should mean the Giants get the best shot Dallas can muster and a chance to prove that only one NFC East team is allowed to play poorly just long enough to come up with a big game when it counts. Here's a few things to keep in mind while waiting to see if they can pull it off. 

Romomania - Romo hasn't always beaten the Giants, but he usually gives them one of his best efforts while saving the real stinkers for other opponents. He has not had a particularly good season, but he lit up the Giants in Week One and has a knack for coming up with big stuff in these situations. 

The Engima - Dez Bryant has talent coming out of his ears, but the mixture of off-field nonsense and on-field lapses have left him as a player whose performance always feels disappointing. He's another one that has liked playing the Giants, which could mean another appearance of the Good Dez after a dreadful game in last week's win over the Panthers. 

Lost Without Lee - The Cowboys are going to have to come up with solutions for the loss of Lee, the leader of the defense if not its best player. His ability to play the run and pass while also providing pressure on the quarterback is the kind of versatile package you don't see in the other Cowboys inside linebacker options. 

Garrett on the Hot Seat? - The Cowboys coach probably isn't there yet, but he could be on his way with a few more close losses. The biggest problem with Garrett is that he doesn't give off the appearance of being in complete control of the team, an issue that makes him an obvious choice for blame whenever the team shoots itself in the foot at the end of a close game. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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