It doesn’t have the usual buzz to it, but this is indeed Dallas Week, and Sunday’s matchup features two teams apparently going in opposite directions.
The Redskins have lost five straight, while the Cowboys have won three of their last four.
Here’s how these teams compare:
The Cowboys own a 5-4 record while Washington sports a 3-6 mark. Dallas averages 24.8 points a game while the Redskins muster just 15.1 an outing. Dallas gives up 20.2 points per game wihle the Redskins are slightly better at 19.8. The Cowboys are 1-3 on the road, and the Redskins have gone 2-2 at home this season.
No surprise, the Cowboys are favored by seven.
Here are some key matchups for this game:
Redskins ILBs London Fletcher and Perry Riley vs. Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray
The Redskins have had their struggles against the run, but they can’t afford to let Murray get going. Dallas opened the season with a 2-4 record, but since Murray’s emergence as feature back (averaging roughly 19 carries for just more than 150 yards), the Cowboys’ offense has started clicking on all cylinders. Riley makes his second straight start alongside Fletcher, and aims to improve upon last week’s showing, where he racked up nine tackles (four for a loss) but also made about 15 errors on 64 of the snaps he took, according to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Still, the second-year LSU product boasts great athleticism and playmaking ability. Fletcher has nursed a sprained ankle this week but is expected to play. He leads the team with 80 tackles.
Redskins LT Trent Williams vs. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware
Washington’s second-year left tackle knows what to expect from Ware, who ranks second in the NFL with 13 sacks. The Cowboys’ top defensive player will come at him with a bag of tricks. He’ll mix it up with speed, strength and athleticism as he works to get to Rex Grossman. Williams has had some ups and downs and says he is striving for perfection as he faces off with Ware. If Williams can keep Ware at bay, the Redskins have a much better chance of getting their offense back on track.
Redskins CBs DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson vs. Cowboys WRs Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson
The Cowboys will be without Miles Austin, but Hall and Wilson still will have their hands full with Bryant and Robinson. Bryant was hobbled in his last meeting with the Redskins, but still had four catches for 63 yards, including the 30-yard reception that set up the winning field goal. Now healthy, Bryant could have an even bigger impact. In his last two games, he has recorded a combined 10 catches for 150 yards (with longs of 39 and 34) and one touchdown. Robinson has emerged as another threat for Dallas. Three weeks ago against Philadelphia, he racked up five catches for 103 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown catch. Last week he had three catches for 73 yards including a 58-yard touchdown catch. In his last game against the Cowboys, Wilson recorded a career-high four pass breakups, and in the last few weeks, he has started to finally feel comfortable in Washington’s defense. Things are coming more quickly for him, and he’s thinking less. The former DeMatha and Maryland star said he’s hoping to finally get his first interception of the season this week.
Redskins TE Fred Davis vs. Cowboys S Gerald Sensabaugh
Davis in the last two games hasn’t had the impact that he did earlier in the season. But he remains Washington’s leading receiver with 43 catches for 587 yards and two touchdowns. Davis said he’s adjusting to a heavier workload with Chris Cooley out. The fourth-year pro in the last two games has played every offensive snap, but although Davis hasn’t complained, coaches say they want to lower that snap count to keep him fresher. Sensabaugh, who leads Dallas with 44 tackles, likely will be used to help the linebackers cover Davis, because with his speed, he creates mismatch problems. The Redskins’ offense is at its best when they feed Davis the ball. In his nine games as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, Rex Grossman has connected with Davis for three touchdown passes (second only to his four to Santana Moss). He narrowly missed another on a fade route that led Davis out of bounds last week. He wouldd like to make good on that this week.
Redskins offensive line vs. Cowboys defensive front
The Redskins have been trying to get their ground game going, but haven’t had much luck. Part of it has to do with injuries, which have led to a lack of cohesion. Some of it has to do with limited opportunities caused by Washington abandoning the run after falling behind early. Some of it has to do with backs not being able to capitalize. IN two starts, Ryan Torain has just 34 yards on 18 carries. Roy Helu has done better, with 16 carries for 82 yards in his last two games. As they have all season, coaches and linemen alike say their struggles are caused by breakdowns by one player here, and another player there, and that they are close to turning things around. Shanahan said, “We will get that running game back, I promise you.” The Cowboys have yielded nearly 180 rushing yards (and just more than 6 yards per carry) in their last three games. Could this be the week for the Redskins?