Cowboys tight end Jason Witten vs. Redskins safeties Matt Bowen, Andre Lott and Sean Taylor
Witten's mix of size (6 feet 5, 257 pounds), speed and sure hands makes him a weapon for Parcells, who will use Witten's athletic ability against Washington's safeties. The Cowboys would like to get Witten in one-on-one coverage against Bowen, whose weakness is man-to-man coverage. The Redskins are expected to frequently match up Taylor with Witten because of the rookie's size (6-2, 231) and ballhawking skills. Taylor quietly flourished last week as a reserve to help contain New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey. Witten will be at his most dangerous if the Cowboys establish the run early, giving the tight end a better chance to get open on play-action fakes.
Portis vs. the Cowboys' run defense
Last season, Dallas's defense garnered the league's top ranking largely by regularly stuffing star tailbacks -- allowing them to rush for an average of 89 yards per game. But after two games this season, Dallas's run defense has plummeted to one of the league's worst. Portis will try to regain his swagger by being the latest tailback to perform well against the Cowboys. Portis, who has struggled on inside runs this season, faces undersized yet quick defensive tackles, particularly La'Roi Glover, who will try to stuff the middle. The drawback to Dallas's slumping run defense is that the unit will be focused on stopping Portis, frequently positioning both safeties near the line of scrimmage. Regardless, Washington's counter running plays should give Portis an opportunity to live up to his self-proclaimed role as one of the "heavyweight" running backs in the league.