A survey of National Football League general managers and personnel directors yesterday indicates that they think Sunday's Washington-Dallas game will be a closer contest than the oddmakers, who favor the Cowboys by 8 to 11 points, foresee it.
Of seven men interviewed, only one -- Joe Sullivan, director of operations for the St. Louis Cardinals and a former Redskins front-office executive -- flat out picked a winner. He chose the Redskins. The others consider the game a tossup.
The winner of the 4 p.m. game at Dallas will capture the NFC East title and also will earn the home-field advantage through the conference championship game.
Here are the responses when The Washington Post asked who will win Sunday's game and why:
Don Klosterman, general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, who will play Sunday's winner in the NFC semi-finals: "Washington is really playing fine football. Personnel-wise, they may not match up on paper. But they're playing with the intensity it takes to get the job done. People haven't been pointing for them. I'm sure Dallas will be.
"Washington can win the game and it will be a real tough game. With Dallas banged up, the Cowboys may have some questions about their capabilities, and the Redskins don't. And that makes a world of difference at the end of season.
"The Cowboys won't go in with all the confidence they normally would have, so it's important for Washington to get an early lead. I would not be surprised at all if the Redskins beat them, as long as Dallas doesn't get off to a big lead early."
Eddie LeBaron, general manager, Atlanta Falcons, and former Redskin quarterback: "It should be very close. As hot as (Joe) Theismann has been lately, it could go either way. For some reason, the home-field advantage has not been that great this year.
"When teams get to where they're up automatically because of the playoffs, home-field advantage is not substantial; it has very little effect on the visiting team."
Bucko Kilroy, director of player personnel, New England Patriots: "Washington has been doing a phenomenal job. (Jack) Pardee should be coach of the year. I don't know what kind of shape Dallas is in.
"It's a tossup. It'll be a good game. Whether George Allen started it or what, it's turned out to be real rivalry in that division. There will be lots of emotion to it, like the Bears and Green Bay and the old rivalry between Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia Eagles."
George Young, general manager, New York Giants: "Just ask Jimmy the Greek. He's the genius. I don't know who's going to win. I hear the point spread's up to 11, which I don't pay any attention to.
"You have injury factors there. Is (Tony) Dorsett going to play? Is (Robert) Newhouse going to play? Is (Drew) Pearson going to play? They have a history of listing guys questionable early in the week and then ending up playing.
"I'm not a good prognosticator. Both teams are in our division. All I know is Theismann's playing well and so is (Roger) Staubach. Washington has a lot momentum going and Dallas is playing in its own backyard.
"I saw Washington's last preseason game, against Cleveland. If you said then that Washington would be playing for the division championship the last days of the season, I'd say you'd been drinking. I think they felt the same way."
Jim Finks, general manager, Chicago Bears: "It appears to be another donnybrook. Neither team should be favored in this one. Dallas has the home-field advantage, but a whole bunch of injuries.
"It appears to me Theismann is playing his best football. Dallas, without (Randy) Hughes, Pearson and Dorsett, will be hurting. From that point on, it's up to you."
The Cardinals' Sullivan: "I like the Redskins. They have a hell of a lot going for them. Jack will have them in the frame of mind that they will play above the capacity, which they've been doing all year.
"I just don't have any doubts at all. That's just the way I feel about it. Their defense can stop Dallas and Theismann's been doing so well. He's got them doing things offensively that can beat Dallas.
"The No. 1 reason? Frame of mind. Jack will take them down there and they will go and dare Dallas to take the game away from them. That's the way they've been playing."
John McKay, coach and vice president, Tampa Bay Bucs: "It will be a hotly contested game. Where is it being played? A lot of coaches are worried about what they have to do this week instead of worrying about Washington and Dallas."