The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys will meet tonight for the 103rd time in the history of the franchises. Dallas enters the game owning a 60-40-2 record against Washington.
Much has been made over whether or not Tony Romo will play, but it appears that the quarterback will give it a go, cracked rib and all. How long he is able to hold up remains to be seen.
The Cowboys will be without leading receiver Miles Austin, and fellow wideout Dez Bryant is questionable. The Cowboys also are dealing with banged-up players at running back, along the offensive line and in the secondary.
Here are some key matchups to monitor tonight as Washington goes toe to toe with Dallas.
WSH O-line vs. DAL defensive front
Tackles Trent Williams and Jammal Brown will have their hands full as they try to block outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, and center Will Montgomery must fend off nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who is one of the best at his position. The Redskins must be at their best both in pass protection and in run-blocking, and they can’t put their tight ends in position where they find themselves matched up with Ware one-on-one because, he’ll simply overpower them and get to Rex Grossman. Dallas leads the league with 10 sacks, and ranks second in the NFL against the run.
WSH OLBs Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan vs. DAL Ts Doug Free and Tyron Smith
Orakpo and Kerrigan both have been disruptive in the first two weeks of the season and will look to continue their progress. Both will be going up against athletic tackles but have a chance to post another big day. The Redskins need Orakpo and Kerrigan to get to Romo often and force him into either coughing up the ball or throwing interceptions, as he is prone to do when under pressure.
WSH WR Santana Moss vs. DAL CB Terence Newman
Moss always seems to have big games against the Cowboys, and Newman will be making his season debut after missing the first two games of the season with a groin injury. The Redskins consistently find ways to get Moss open and should be able to take advantage of the Cowboys’ banged up secondary if Grossman has time to throw.
WSH linebackers, safeties vs. DAL TE Jason Witten
Witten is a tough matchup regardless of who’s covering him, and because the Cowboys like to move him around, defending him will be a team effort. Some plays it could be either Orakpo or Kerrigan, other times they could receive some safety help. With Austin out, Romo will likely look to Witten to help move the chains. In two games, Witten has 13 catches for 212 yards, which led all tight ends entering Week 3.
WSH OC Kyle Shanahan vs. DAL DC Rob Ryan
Shanahan’s offense has looked sharp for the most part, demonstrating an ability to move the ball up and down the field in Weeks 1 and 2, but says he’s still aiming for a more balanced attack. Monday night he will try to match wits with Ryan, whom Shanahan says does all kinds of things to try to confuse the offense. The key for Shanahan and the Redskins will be to adjust to all unusual wrinkles Ryan & Co. throw their way.