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.J. -- For the NFL schedule maker, this is perfection. After a season of inconsistency and disappointments, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants play one game that will make the winner forget the frustrations of the regular season and send the other home for a long rest. Arch rivals facing off for a division title in prime time. Delicious. The Cowboys (8-7) and Giants (8-7) close the regular season Sunday night at Metlife Stadium, the winner getting a first-round home game against either Atlanta or Detroit. Oh, in case of a tie, which hasnt happened all season in the NFL, the Giants capture the division and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 based on head-to-head play. "I think everyone knows this is the most important game of the season," Giants veteran left tackle David Diehl said. "We all know whats at stake. We know what we are playing for. When we started this season our No. 1 goal was to win the division and here we are. Its right in front of us." The division title has been in front of both teams all season, and neither has grabbed hold of it. The Giants won six of their first eight games, then went on a four-game losing streak to fall a game behind the Cowboys in early December. New York, however, rallied from a 12-point deficit on Dec. 11 to beat Dallas 37-34 and regain first place on a tiebreaker. The momentum lasted a week. New York put in a no-show in losing to Washington on Dec. 18, putting Dallas back in first. Of course, the inconsistency continued last week as the Giants played one of their best games of the season in knocking off and shutting up the local rival Jets 29-14. Meanwhile, Dallas lost to Philadelphia for the second time this season and quarterback Tony Romo bruised his right hand -- his passing hand. So who shows up this week with everything on the line? Who knows? "I think these two teams are very comparable team-wise, not only in record but the types of seasons we have had," said Romo, who plans on playing. "I suspect that talent-wise, we are pretty close so there will be a few plays here or there that will decide this game. We have to be ready to make those plays." Coincidentally, both teams have been in similar situations in recent years as far as making the playoffs and came up short. The Giants have had late-season collapses the past two years. They lost to Carolina and Minnesota in the final two games of the 09 season to miss the playoffs and they were beaten by Philadelphia and Green Bay in the 14th and 15th games last season -- blowing a 21-point fourth-quarter lead against the Eagles -- to also go home early. The Cowboys, who last went to the playoffs in the 2009 season, had another win-and-in game on the road in 2008 against the Eagles and were blown out 44-6. "I think its the same thing," Cowboys Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware said of the parallel to 2008. "Going into this game, this is an opportunity where you can sort of get a birth, an opportunity where you can catapult yourself sort of where you need to be, showcase what we actually have. We havent been the most consistent team this year, but if you get this game and get to the playoffs, thats like rebirth, a rebirth of the team. I think itd be great to just keep going." Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said this is an easy game to get ready to play because the picture is so clear, the teams know each other so well after having played only three weeks ago -- and having played each other twice a year for decades. "There is only one game we have to focus on and only one game we have to win to get to what our next goal is," Kiwanuka said. "We have one game and one opportunity to continue on our way to accomplishing our goal, which is winning a national title." The Giants could get a lift on defence with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora expected to play for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain late last month. The Cowboys might be a little fresher because they rested several players after the Giants beat the Jets, with the outcome of their game against the Eagles having no effect on the showdown nature of Sundays game. Giants coach Tom Coughlin or Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will be under the microscope if their team fails to make the playoffs. Coughlin, who hurt his left leg when run into on the sideline by Giants running back D.J. Ware in the fourth quarter last week, might be in a better position after the win over the Jets, a result that had co-owner John Mara signing his praises. Garrett has seen his team blow fourth-quarter leads of at least 12 points three times this season, and might be in a little more trouble if Jerry Jones team misses the playoffs a second straight year. "Its do or die," Dallas linebacker Bradie James said. "We can all sit here. The coaches talk about the Xs and Os, and my job is just to go out there and . really, its just sheer determination. Coach Garrett talks about will. Its heart, determination. We can get in there and talk about execution and what we plan against this guy. They know us, we know them. Its really going to be whoever outlasts the other. Thats how you break it down. I like to keep it as simple as possible." This will be the first time the NFC East winner has less than 10 wins since the division was created in 1970. The lone exception was the strike-shortened 1982 season, when teams played nine games. Matt Schaub Jersey
." Roethlisberger was served with a civil lawsuit last weekend when he returned to Lake Tahoe, where the 31-year-old woman -- a Canadian who lives in Nevada -- alleges the quarterback raped her in a hotel penthouse in July 2008. Terrell Suggs Jersey
. Murray, 61, was fired in December by the Los Angeles Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup under the direction of Darryl Sutter. Denarius Moore Jersey
. The Senators have won three straight and seven of their last eight contests, but are still 12th in the Eastern Conference and 11 points out of a postseason berth. Ottawa has made the playoffs in 11 straight seasons and is in danger of missing out on the tournament for the first time since 1996. Sebastian Janikowski Jersey
., outlasted Will Strickler in a playoff to become the first Canadian-born winner of the Dakota Dunes Casino Open on Sunday. Ray Rice Jersey
. - The NBA responded to Metta World Peaces latest act of aggression with a seven-game suspension that will lighten the Los Angeles Lakers troublemakers wallet and playoff schedule.It took Bart (Bartimus) Palaszewski 49 fights to make it to the UFC. And the tattooed bantamweight, who faces Hatsu Hioki at UFC 144 in Japan this weekend in his second UFC outing, doesnt mind having taken the long road to get there. "I paid my dues and I like it. I went heavy on the way," Palaszewski said. "Ive seen it all pretty much. "Ive dealt with the scummiest of the scum, as far as promotions go. Ive dealt with the nicest people and the best promotions in the world as well." "I dont have a sprint of career, I guess you could say," he added. "But I want to keep moving up." The 28-year-old Palaszewski (36-14) celebrated his UFC debut last time out with a knockout of the night performance in his first-round win over Tyson Griffin at UFC 137 in October. He was rewarded with a spot on the UFCs return to Japan card in Tokyo. "Its a historic event in a way for the UFC -- first time under the Zuffa (ownership) banner. A stacked card. Huge arena. Its definitely an honour to be on the card." The main event at Saitama Super Arena features Frankie (The Answer) Edgar defending his lightweight title against former WEC title-holder Ben Henderson. In the co-main event, former light-heavyweight champion Quinton (Rampage) Jackson takes in Ryan (Darth) Bader. Palaszewski has paid his dues, recalling he once had to get a note from his parents to skip high school so he could attend the weigh-in for an amateur fight. "When I started fighting, I just did it for fun. I loved it," he said. "A lot of the fights I didnt even get paid. A lot of fights, we lost money because I had to drive down or pay for my own hotel and things. "But Im still here. I still love it. Its my job and a hobby, killing two birds with one stone. Its pretty cool." Palaszewski has fought in Japan before, knocking out Masayuki Okude in 2004. He was actually cornering friend and training partner Jeff (Big Frog)Curran that night but the promoters said they wouldnt fly him out unless he fought too. So he did. Palaszewski asked to fight this time. Thinking he matched up well with Hioki (25-4-2), Palaszewski asked to meet the Japanese veteran. For a while it seemed a be careful what you wish for scenario as he pondered the 14-hour trip from Chicago to Japan. But he felt better when he learned he can keep his body clock on U.S. time -- "because jet lag is definitely a bitch to deal with," he explained. In order to air the pay-per-view card liive Saturday night in North America, the UFC is scheduling the fights early Sunday Japan time. Peyton Manning Jersey
. The first bout is slated for 9:30 a.m. local time, with the pay-per-view card kicking off at noon local. Curran, who lost to Hioki at a 2006 Pride event, usually corners Palaszewski but he wont be able to return the favour in Japan this time because of a scheduling conflict. Hard to miss with his spiky dyed hair and body ink, Palaszewski turned heads with his fists at UFC 137 in his debut at 145 pounds after fighting as a lightweight. After hurting Griffin, he put him away with a flurry of punches at the fence. In his post-fight interview in the cage, an emotional Palaszewski noted he had broken his hand in the win. "Its worth it," he added. He escaped the knife, relying on rest instead. "Definitely surgery in the future though. It wasnt bad enough where I needed surgery at the time but it was bad enough where its not going to be the same ever again and Im going to need surgery," he said with a laugh. He blames the injury on over-exuberance in trying to finish Griffin. Some of the punches were poorly constructed. Palaszewski, who made his pro debut in January 2002, worked his way through regional promotions, the IFL and WEC before getting his UFC shot. And he had to wait some more after being summoned. He was slated to debut at UFC 130 last May, but had to pull out through injury. Suffering from dizziness and nausea, he thought he had a concussion. It turned out to be a virus in his inner ear. "It sucked. I was dizzy for six months," he said. He was left with some damaged nerves and lost part of the hearing in one of his ears. "But its not a big deal," he said dryly. "I dont need good hearing for my job." Palaszewskis performance against Griffin as all the more impressive considering his rough weight cut (he made the 146-pound limit but Griffin failed to make weight). Palaszewski had spent years trying to become a big lightweight. Now he found himself starting camp at 188 pounds, so he had to lose 42 pounds in 10 weeks. This time, he started out much lighter and says its been a lot easier. Fans will notice some more ink when Palaszewski steps into the cage this weekend. He had some 15 hours work done after the Griffin win. His favourite design is dedicated to four-year-old daughter Natalia -- a cherub angel sitting behind a heart with her name -- on his forearm. "Shes my little princess," he said. ' ' '