Following last week's valiant, albeit unsuccessful, effort against the Packers, the Giants will travel to Dallas and look to right the ship against the Cowboys. 

Last week was...encouraging.  It wasn't a win.  It could have been, but it wasn't.  But you know what it was?  An effort, and man was that was...well, encouraging.  Alright, it's hard to be all sunshine and rainbows about a 38-35 loss which ended with your defense being systematically decimated and demoralized in under a minute, but that game was a long way from the 69-3 beat down the Saints laid on the Giants the week before or the four hundred play, sixteen-minute drive Vince Young lead the Eagles on for the win the week before that (I'm fairly certain that none of those game stats are accurate, I'm just going on feel here).  All things considered, it would have been pretty easy for the Giants to roll over and let Aaron Rodgers have his way with them, but they didn't (for the most part).  It was an effort that was nice to see, even if the scoreboard wasn't as kind to Giant eyes.

Frankly, it was exactly what I was looking for.  I'm not happy with the loss, but I've had my confidence, nay, my defiance restored.  That's an odd thing to say whilst in the midst of a four game losing streak, I know, but defiance is defiance and  I DON'T CARE!  We're back baby, and just in time for the biggest game of the season.  Sunday night the G-men will travel to Dallas and play the first of two games in four weeks against the hated Cowboys.  Whomever wins this game will become the frontrunner in the NFC East race.

The Cowboys have been almost as up and down as the Giants...Almost.  They beat the 49ers in San Francisco thanks to a stirring fourth quarter comeback, throttled the Bills, and played three quarters of football that were as good as you could ever see in their game against the Lions.  Then again, a Tony Romo nuclear reactor-type meltdown lost them that game and they've gone on to, while winning along the way, get embarrassed by the Eagles and suffer an inexplicable loss last week to the Cardinals (thanks for that one Jason Garrett).

That said, despite Romo's ability to throw his team to defeat, the Cowboys really do have a terrific offense.  They're seventh in the league on that side of the ball.  DeMarco Murray has been a revelation at running back, Dez Bryant is a beast, and Laurent Robinson has become a star in the absence of Miles Austin, who figures to be back Sunday.  Defensively, the Cowboys are a bit more suspect.  Their historically good pass rush is still there, and coordinator Rob Ryan is a great game planner - not to mention a great Kathy Bates look alike - but their secondary is woefully vulnerable.

The Giants will have to exploit that to get a win.  Eli Manning is having his best season and for the first time in my life this Giants passing game is clicking - when the receivers actually catch the ball (looking at you Mario Manningham.  Don't think I forgot about the 49er game).  With Ahmad Bradshaw back, however, Kevin Gilbride should look to use both the running and passing games.  Manning will find success, we know this.  But a good running attack will force this Dallas defense to stay honest, opening up more of the field for Eli.  Defensively, (I could probably just copy and paste this section from any of the preview articles that I've written this season) the key for the Giants will be rushing the passer.  Occasionally I'd say that the secondary has to play tough bump and run coverage as well, but at this point in the season I've given up hope.  It's all on the D-line.  They will need to rush the passer and in doing so not allow Tony Romo out of the pocket.  He's athletic enough to run for big yardage if he's allowed a lane. know...don't allow him one (Do you like my brilliant analysis?).

As for a prediction, I'm a little conflicted.  There are two schools of thinking for what will happen Sunday.  Either the Giants will be emboldened by their effort against the Pack and play inspired, or their spirit will have been crushed by the loss and they'll slowly fade into nothingness.  Personally, I choose emboldened.  I really think that Sunday's loss to the Packers righted this Giant ship.  I don't expect the Big Blue secondary to be effective, but I do think that the D-Line/Linebackers will stop the run and get after Tony Romo.  Offensively, I expect the Giant offense to have a lot of success.  Manning should decimate the Cowboys secondary, and I think Bradshaw will play off Manning and have a big day.  This is the season for the Giants, and I think they'll play as such.  31-24 G-Men.  If you believe it, it will happen.

Check back here Sunday night for a recap of the game and follow me on Twitter @JoeBianchino.  Go Giants!