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Giants, Cowboys to battle for NFC East

Last season, the Dallas Cowboys lost three games. Two of them came to the New York Giants, who swept their divisional foes en route to the playoffs.

In the postseason, neither team was able to do much. The Giants went to Lambeau Field and were blown out by the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round, while the Cowboys were beaten by those same Packers in AT&T Stadium on the following weekend. The defeats set the stage for an offseason that couldn’t have looked more different for the two clubs.

Dallas went through some changes on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys watched as J.J. Wilcox, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Barry Church all departed from the secondary via free agency. Jerry Jones did bring in Chidobe Awuzie in the draft, taking the corner out of the University of Colorado with his second-round choice. Still, there is ample youth taking over in a defensive backfield that will face elite receivers almost every weekend. Byron Jones will be expected to contribute more, along with Anthony Jones and free-agent acquisition, Nolan Carroll.

Meanwhile, the Giants lost very little talent while adding a veteran wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. Marshall signed a two-year deal worth $12 million, pairing him with Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham is the most talented receiver in the game, but needs to find more maturity. Marshall, who was once considered a locker room cancer, has developed into a leader since discovering he has Borderline Personality Disorder. He should be an asset for Big Blue.

New York also brought in tight end Evan Engram in the first round, a talent from Ole Miss who should add another weapon for Eli Manning in the passing game. Engram isn’t much for blocking, but runs routes in the way of a receiver.

The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles both have talent, but the East should come down to the Giants and Cowboys, sans injuries. New York has a three-win deficit to make up against Dallas, but the changes in personnel on both sides could have considerably closed the gap.

There are other races to watch in many divisions. The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders should battle in the AFC West, while we see if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can challenge the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South. In the AFC North, perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals and/or the Baltimore Ravens can give the Pittsburgh Steelers a run for their proverbial money.

Still, in the end, none of those potential tussles is as juicy as the Giants and Cowboys in the NFC East. In the end, two high-profile franchises will battle toe-to-toe, starting Week 1 on Sunday Night Football deep in the heart of Texas.

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