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this week's game

The Must-Win Games Begin With Giants-Cowboys II

The Giants won't be mathematically eliminated if they don't win on Sunday. And even if they don't win, it's possible that most of the other teams near them in the standings could lose as well (though Philly and Atlanta play each other). But the Giants will not be backing into the playoffs. If they're going to get there at all, it would behoove them to start winning. Now. And consistently.

On Sunday they'll face the Cowboys, whom they defeated in Dallas in Week Two. That was the Giants' most impressive win of the season — against the team that's now atop the division, and in front of 105,000 people, a national-television audience, and a handful of cage dancers. If you'll recall, Eli Manning was almost as good that night as the Giants rushing defense was bad: The Cowboys ran for 251 yards, and they made it look pretty easy, too. And though Tony Romo threw three interceptions, two of them were to Kenny Phillips, who was placed on injured reserve four days later.

This is a different Giants team, of course: Manning is bothered by a foot injury now, Antonio Pierce (like Phillips) is out for the year, and it's unclear from week to week which running backs will be healthy enough to play. That game in Dallas in September felt important because it would ruin the opening of the Cowboys' new palace, and let's be clear: Winning that game was pretty sweet. But the Giants have bigger things than Cowboys Stadium to worry about now.

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