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NFL Week 17: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

Tony Romo
Romo looks to win in Dallas

There is only one game in Week 17 that features a playoff spot on the line or a postseason sitting home for both teams: Sunday night’s Dallas at New York Giants matchup, as the winner claims the NFC East title.

New York and Dallas are both 8-7, so the winner will earn the No. 4 seed and a home matchup with Detroit or Atlanta next weekend. The loser is eliminated, and a tie would give the crown to the Giants thanks to their 37-34 road victory over the Cowboys on Dec. 11.

The Giants won a wild game against the Jets in Week 16, which made the Cowboys/Eagles matchup meaningless. But Cowboys QB Tony Romo injured his hand early in that game. Although he’s missed practice time, he’s expected to play Sunday. The teams met in Week 14, with New York squeaking out a narrow victory in a game in which good defense was difficult to come by (954 total yards, 71 points).

Romo has been magnificent this season, throwing 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions with a career-best 102.2 passer rating — the league’s fourth-best mark. He was bypassed for the Pro Bowl, however, in favor of the Giants’ Eli Manning.

Manning is enjoying a stellar year with a career-high 4,587 passing yards — the NFL’s fourth-highest total. He owns the league’s second-best fourth-quarter passer rating at 107.5, guiding the Giants to come-from-behind victories in the final period five times. His most recent comeback was in the first meeting with Dallas. Manning threw for 400 yards and led the Giants to two touchdowns in the final 3:14 to rally them from a 34-22 deficit.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride did an excellent job of proving LT David Diehl help working against OLB DeMarcus Ware with the Giants playing from behind without handcuffing the passing game in the first meeting. The Giants would love to establish a solid ground game early, giving Manning more security, and one-on-one matchups, working off play-action.

Romo has not traditionally played well in games of this magnitude, but he must step up with these rivals often squaring off in shootouts. Romo would be helped tremendously if RB Felix Jones is fully recovered from his hamstring injury and can contribute early. It will help if his O-line can slow down Pro Bowl DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who dominated in the previous matchup with eight tackles, two sacks (one for a safety), a forced fumble and a blocked FG that secured the win.

SA Take: This is a battle that has many implictions. But everything seems to point to Dallas going up to NY and pulling off the upset to us. Add three points in there and we are on Dallas +3 tonight.

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Sunday, January 1st, 2012 NFL Betting 2011

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