The Dallas Cowboys have hit a soft spot on the schedule and failure to take care of business against inferior teams will only hamper their chances of making a case for the playoffs.
Since getting sideswiped in a loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 30, the Cowboys have ripped off back-to-back home wins versus Seattle and Buffalo to remain a game behind the New York Giants for the NFC East lead. The Washington Redskins are next on the list for Dallas and a win Sunday at FedEx Field could propel Dallas to new heights.
The Giants have New Orleans and Green Bay on the upcoming slate and now is the perfect chance for the Cowboys to start a lengthy winning streak. The Cowboys have won back-to-back games on two separate occasions this season and their 44-7 win over the Buffalo Bills Sunday was the 10th-largest margin in team history. Tight end and leading receiver Jason Witten was pleased with the recent outcome and hopes it will catapult his team to even more success.
“We needed a game like this,” said Witten, who moved into third place all-time among tight ends for career receptions. “This needs to be the foundation of what lies ahead for this team.”
This week the Cowboys head to the Nations Capital to take on the struggling Redskins, who are 3-6 and hitting rock bottom. Here’s the keys to Sunday’s game for the Cowboys, as well as our final prediction.
1. Keep up the Run Game – Expect the Cowboys to drive Murray into the ground against Washington’s 18th- rated run defense on Sunday. The downhill runner, whom owner Jones compared to Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, is averaging a league-best 6.7 yards per carry and topped the 100-yard mark for the third time in four starts last week. His 601 rushing yards are the fifth-most by an NFL rookie over a four-game span.
2. Punish Whoever is at QB – Will Rex Grossman do enough to keep the starting job for another week? That remains to be seen, but even if he does play well it wouldn’t be a shock if Shanahan waffles back to Beck. Clearly Grossman has the experience factor going for him and will have to transfer that onto the field.
3. Send Ware Out for the Kill – When breaking down Dallas’ defense, DeMarcus Ware has to be accounted for on nearly every down. The talented linebacker has emerged as the NFL’s premier pass rusher with 19 sacks in the past 12 games and an NFL-high 85 quarterback takedowns since the start of 2006. Expect Ryan to send Ware through Washington’s depleted offensive line early and often on Sunday.
Prediction – Both teams are headed in opposite directions and this is the time of year Romo shines. With the NFC playoff picture clearing up, Dallas has emerged as a contender with three wins over the past four games. It will add to that total come late Sunday with a hard-fought victory behind another impressive showing by Murray and the Cowboys’ offensive line. The NFC East lead could be at stake for Dallas, while Washington is battling to stay out of the division basement. The Cowboys needed six field goals from Bailey in the first meeting and the last three matchups in this series have been decided in the final moments. Dallas won’t have to worry about biting its nails this time around, however. Dallas 20 Washington 14