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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 7, the day the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night football.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

—Matt Cassel will be making his fifth start for the Cowboys. Remember that he did not spend any of the offseason program or training camp with Dallas. They made the trade to acquire him a few days after Tony Romo broke his collarbone for the first time in Week 2. He still is learning the offense on the fly. He has completed 62.7 percent of his passes but for only 5.7 net yards per attempt.

—Greg Hardy leads the Cowboys with 4.5 sacks but he had three in his first two games after returning from a four-game suspension to start the season and just 1.5 in his last five games. He usually lines up on the right side so he will be up against Trent Williams. It’s a good bet that Hardy will continue his sack slump as Williams has not allowed one all year.

—Will it be an Alfred Morris night or a Matt Jones night? Morris seems to be the hot hand now. Disregarding the Panthers game, in which Morris left after only two rushing attempts due to a rib injury, Morris has 38 carries for 170 yards in his last two games. In those same two games Jones had 75 yards on 19 carries. I think they will go in hoping to get Morris going early and see what they can get running and receiving from Jones.

—Kirk Cousins has 290 or more yards passing in each of the Redskins’ last four home games. Since allowing 356 yards to Eli Manning and the Giants in Week 1 the Cowboys have allowed no more than 250 passing yards in a game. I think the Redskins will be OK if Cousins splits the difference and throws for about 275. But with, say, 225 yards the Redskins could struggle.

—Of course, there is more to it than just Cousins’ passing. If the Redskins are going to win they will have to contain Darren McFadden on the ground and force Cassel to show off his relative inexperience in the Dallas offense, get a few takeaways, and get at least a moderately effective running game going. My gut feeling from around Redskins Park this week is that they are ready to do it but there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. I think they will pull it out but I won’t be shocked if they struggle.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Cowboys 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Days until: Redskins @ Bears 6; Bills @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Eagles 19

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 23, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles, 8:30 pm, ESPN

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 13
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 31

Final report on injures of note:
Out
: CB Josh Norman (rib),
Questionable: OT Trent Williams (knee)CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle),
See the full injury report and analysis here

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The first time these teams met, both scored defensive touchdowns. Ryan Kerrigan got the first Redskins points on the board with a pick six of Carson Wentz in the second quarter. With a minute and a half left, Fletcher Cox wrapped up the game for his team with a 20-yard return of a very controversial fumble. The difference tonight could well be a defensive or special teams score.

—In that game, the Redskins never let the Eagles get any sort of running game going. The Eagles rushed for 54 yards, the second-lowest total for a Washington opponent this year. And they had 24 attempts (2.4 yards per) so it wasn’t as though they didn’t try. The Redskins could use another strong effort against the run this time as well.

—I examined third downs in the first look at this game a few days ago. Since then, this was bought to my attention.

Third downs could be a fatal flaw for the Redskins. The Eagles’ ability to convert third and long situations was a key to them being able to survive without much of a running game in the opener. The Redskins need to hold the Eagles to 40 percent or less on all third downs and to 25 percent or less on third and long. And they will have to do it without Josh Norman, their best defensive back.

—In the first meeting, the matchup of the Redskins’ offensive line and the Eagles’ defensive front went decidedly in Philly’s direction. Washington rushed for just 64 yards and Kirk Cousins was sacked four times. There were plenty of concerns about the line, especially RT Morgan Moses, who gave up two sacks, and RG Brandon Scherff, who gave up four total pressures. Those two and the unit as a whole have been better since that game. The Redskins’ front will need to win that battle this time around.

Prediction: A Week 7 game is not really a must-win when you have a winning record. There is a lot of season left to be played. But if the Redskins are going to take the next step and stay in the thick of things for the ideal playoff seeding, they need to take this one. This year in the NFL, just when everyone thinks they have things figured out something happens to flip the script. Everyone now figures that the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and perhaps the best in the NFL. They are ripe for an upset.

Redskins 24, Eagles 20

Season prediction record: 2-3

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

PHILADELPHIA — Arguably the Redskins best player, all of the NFL knows that Trent Williams can still play at a high level while dealing with injury. 

How long Williams can play though injury seems the more important question though as reports emerged the left tackle will need knee surgery at some point. That could come in the next few weeks, or as Redskins fans hope, perhaps at the end of the season.

Currently playing with a torn medial patella-femoral ligament in his right knee, the six-time Pro Bowler has not practiced since sustaining the injury three weeks ago in Kansas City. He was able to gut out a strong performance last week against the 49ers, and is expected to do the same Monday night against the Eagles.

One factor that might be pushing Williams to play with such a damaged right leg is that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe is also out after having surgery on his core muscles. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS FOR EVERY GAME THUS FAR

Nsekhe is expected back relatively soon, but the timeline remains murky. When he can come back, perhaps Williams will reconsider his options. 

Surgery for the torn MPFL will leave Williams with a five or six-month recovery. 

It's obvious the Redskins' offense is best with Williams on the field. Nsekhe, however, proved a capable backup last season when Williams served a four-game suspension. 

Without Nsekhe, the Redskins would go to veteran T.J. Clemmings should Williams be unable to play. Nsekhe has not played since a Week 3 win over Oakland. The Redskins added Clemmings to the roster in early September, after their fourth preseason game. He spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. 

For now, the Redskins will continue to hope Williams can play through the pain.

"Trent is a tough guy, so we will see how it works, see how feels tomorrow and go from there," Jay Gruden said of Williams on Saturday. 

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