Washington Redskins (5-8) vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-9)
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: Sunday 1:00 pm EST
Talking with Tony Dorsett this week, he said he felt that this rivalry had lost a little meaning in the era of free agency. While he is absolutely right, one thing is for sure: Cowboys fans still hate the Redskins! While the last decade has been tame in this battle between storied rivals, this game might actually be interesting. There has been no shortage of drama in, either, the nation’s capital or in Big D. The Redskins drama jumped a little bit more this week with the announcement of Donovan McNabb riding the pine for the rest of the year.
Don’t expect Cowboys fans to show any sympathy. The Cowboys have been without their starting quarterback for seven and a half weeks. This week we will have the anticipated matchup of…Jon Kitna vs. Rex Grossman. Tickets are selling fast! Seriously though, while at any given point over the last decade either one of these teams has been up and down, the rivalry might heat up this week with both teams having nothing else to play for. It is the battle for the basement in the NFC East.
Clearly the key for the Redskins will be to keep DeMarcus Ware away from Rex Grossman. Althrough Grossman’s career he has never faired well when pressured and hit. The Redskins will have to rely heavily on their offensive line to protect Grossman and open up some rushing lanes for HBs Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams, also backups. It would appear that the Redskins are thin when it comes to the skill positions on offense. But let’s not forget about, Cowboy killer, WR Santana Moss. Moss has decimated the Cowboys since coming to Washington in 2005. Against Dallas he recorded 6 receptions for 77 yards in the season opener, a 13-7 win in Washington. Moss will have the opportunity to pull off some big plays against a Cowboys secondary that is 27th in the league in pass defense. The Eagles’ DeSean Jackson lit the Boys up last week for over 200 yards on only 4 receptions. Moss has similar speed and capability, and Grossman still can chuck the ball pretty well.
On defense the Redskins need to pressure Jon Kitna. If they can force him to throw when he doesn’t want to that will allow some chances for the Redskins defense to get some takeaways. The Skins will be without, standout safety, LaRon Landry who was placed on injured reserve this week. The Skins are also without troubled DT Albert Haynesworth who has had an irreparable rift with head coach Mike Shanahan. The Redskins front will have problems with the big Cowboys offensive line if they try to go toe-to-toe. Look for them to use their speed to get around the immobile Cowboy blockers.
The key matchup for the Redskins will be their linebackers on Jason Witten. Witten is has been terrific this season and has become Kitna’s main safety blanket.
One of the only teams worse against the pass then the Cowboys is the Redskins. The Skins are giving up 260 yards/game through the air. Look for the Cowboys to try to take advantage of it. The Boys will be playing with some new faces at the receiver position with Manny Johnson and Jesse Holley mixing into the action. With Kevin Ogletree and Dez Bryant on IR for the rest of the year, and Roy Williams suffering from a groin injury this week in practice, the Cowboys are really thin at the wideout position. Marion Barber does make his return to the lineup this week and hopefully can help the Cowboys 24th ranked running game come to life. The real problem with the offense this year, however, has been the play of the offensive line. The big men up front have played anything but big. The tackles have had trouble against good pass rushers and the interior of the line is struggling to open up any kind of running room. Walter Payton would have bad numbers behind the line this year.
On defense it is simple…get pressure. If they pressure Grossman he will turn the ball over. When Rex came in for McNabb a couple of weeks ago in a loss to Detroit, Grossman threw a pick and fumbled once. If they Cowboys get pressure that will also help neutralize Santana Moss on the outside. Part of the reason the Cowboys have are ranked 27th against the pass this season is the corners are being asked to cover too long. Newman, Scandrick and Jenkins will benefit from a good pass rush. The Cowboys should be able to contain the Redskins running attack. But, on any given Sunday.
The key matchup for the Cowboys will be DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on the Washington offensive tackles. Look for Ware and Spencer to unleash their full arsenal of pass rush moves.
The game will be entertaining but I think the Cowboys will walk away victors. 31-13.