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NFL Preview 2012: What Separates The Giants And The Cowboys?

The second in a series of posts breaking down the most important and interesting questions about the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL headed into the 2012 season.

That's a tough question to answer since there has been very little difference between the two teams in the regular season. Over the last five years, the Giants have 49 wins, Dallas 47. But while you can make an argument for playoff success not being the sole determining factor for rating quarterbacks; it's all that matters when it comes to team success. So in that regard, you have to look at roster management as the key.

The Giants have focused on one aspect of their team and remained committed to improving it. They continually throw draft picks and free agent money at their defensive line; year after year. It's a passing league and the Giants have constantly done everything they can to get to the quarterback. Has Dallas? They've had DeMarcus Ware and drafted Spencer in the first round, but what else have they invested in their "pressure five" (OLBs, DEs, NT)? Fourth rounders and later?

Also, New York has systematically been able to produce in-house talent at a higher rate than the Cowboys. Pedigree isn't everything, but it does matter. Due to the fact that the Cowboys are led by an undrafted quarterback, fans want to believe that it's not as important as it is.

Review the draft classes for each team. '07-09 yielded Anthony Spencer, Doug Free, Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick and Victor Butler for Dallas; Aaron Ross, Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, Ahmad Bradshaw, Kenny Phillips, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks for the Giants. Phillips, Nicks and Smith have all spent time being considered as Top 10 at their respective positions. Does anyone for Dallas fit that bill? I think you'd have to say that the Giants have the advantage there. Things have turned the corner for Dallas in recent years, so there is hope in the drafting realm.

For more season preview coverage, stay tuned to the SB Nation Dallas StoryStream while Blogging The Boys has 24/7 updates on America's Team.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.