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Pros, cons, and X factors: Redskins at Cowboys game prediction

Pros, cons, and X factors: Redskins at Cowboys game prediction

Redskins at Cowboys
Monday, 8:30 p.m.

Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and X factors for the Washington Redskins as they take on the Dallas Cowboys on tonight and then I’ll give my prediction.

Here are two factors that work against a Redskins win:

—Tony Romo is having a career revival year. His completion percentage, touchdown percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating are all up significantly from last year. He is making plays in the clutch rather than throwing picks (although he has thrown six of them). It’s safe to say that Romo is the best QB the Redskins have played all year.

—And Dez Bryant is the best receiver the Redskins have faced this year. Bashaud Breeland and David Amerson will stay on their sides and try to defend him. They could do a good job most of the time but the key will be how well they do when Romo and the Cowboys really need a play. A whole night of doing a good job against DeMarco Murray and Jason Witten could be undone with Romo airing one out to Bryant and the receiver making one of his patented, leaping catches with the defender draped all over him.

Here are two factors in favor of a Redskins win:

—There’s always the “any given Sunday” or, in this case, Monday factor. The Cowboys are solid favorites and they should be. But this isn’t Alabama vs. Florida Atlantic. These are two divisional rivals and upsets happen. And, yes, that one is only pulled out when I’m reaching for positive factors for the Redskins.

—DeSean Jackson is the most dangerous receiver the Cowboys have faced this year. The Dallas defense has just seven sacks this year and they are 31st in the NFL is sacks per pass attempt. The maligned Redskins O-line is a respectable 12th in preventing sacks (sacks per pass attempt), so Colt McCoy could have time to find him. Can McCoy to Jackson be the equivalent of Brunell to Moss circa 2005?

And two X factors:

—It’s hard to figure out what to expect out of McCoy. The last time he started a game his team won was in 2011, when he led the Browns to a 14-10 win over Jacksonville. McCoy started 21 games for the Browns and the team put up over 20 points in three of them. The Browns did not have the offensive weapons the Redskins now have so it’s fair to say, let’s see what he can do with the likes of Jackson, Pierre Garçon, Jordan Reed, and Alfred Morris. Regardless, the Redskins will have to score more than 20 points, perhaps 30 or more, to have a chance in this game.

—It seems that the Dallas defense works best when it’s kept off of the field. Romo, Murray and company are second in the NFL in time of possession so their defense spends a lot of time watching. That lets them get away with being in the bottom half of the league in just about every statistical category. Oh, except for points allowed, where they are ninth. It’s kind of the mirror image of the Redskins who seventh in yards allowed but 25th in points given up. Bottom line, the Cowboys defense can be exploited but it’s one thing to talk about it and another to do it.

So what will happen?

As I noted in my post this morning, a Redskins team with a losing record has not gone on the road and beaten a team at least five games over .500 since 2006. It’s not an easy thing for any team to do but the Redskins seem to find it particularly tough to do.

The Redskins have the proverbial puncher’s chance but it’s the Cowboys who will deliver the knockout blow. I can see the Redskins being competitive but I don’t think they can beat a team playing as well as the Cowboys are. Perhaps they will have a shot going into the fourth quarter until a Romo to Dez prayer is answered to put it in the bag for the Cowboys.

Cowboys 31, Redskins 17

(record this year 4-3)

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Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract

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Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details.

Until now.

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. The top line numbers are five years, $111 million, an average annual value of $22.2 million per year. 


Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer).

But there is another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million.

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith, but since we have no details, we’ll set those aside for now.

The cap hits on the contract are as follows:

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022.

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five.


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


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Three Monday visitors to Redskins Park could determine team's free agency strategy going forward

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Three Monday visitors to Redskins Park could determine team's free agency strategy going forward

The Redskins are having three visitors today in Ashburn. Depending on how they go, they could mostly be done with free agency or still pushing to fill some needs.

They have been making an effort to hire one of the top defensive linemen on the market since before free agency actually started. They had former Jet Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit last Tuesday, something they could do because Wilkerson had been released. The team put on a good sales push that lasted most of the day, but Wilkerson left without a deal. Shortly after he left he decided to sign with the Packers.

They made runs at Dontari Poe and Sheldon Richardson, but they signed with the Panthers and Vikings, respectively. The prospects were looking slim until the Colts decided to cut Jonathan Hankins on Saturday. He weighs 320 pounds and turned 25 on January 1. Hankins probably isn’t going to make any All-Pro teams or post double-digit sacks, but he will help you stop the run for the next half-decade, at least. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s the Redskins’ biggest defensive problem for the last several seasons.


Hankins is visiting today and he is someone the Redskins would very much like to sign. The other two visitors may be fallback plans.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is a veteran who can play in the slot. That is what the Redskins are looking for but Scandrick does not appear to be their first choice. Last week they had former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in for an extended visit that included a physical. However, they could not come together on money. Scandrick, who has missed time with injuries in each of the last two years, could be an alternative to Rodgers-Cromartie or it could be that he is being used to put some pressure on the Redskins’ preferred choice.

Edge rusher Pernell McPhee is also clearly a second choice. The Redskins have an offer on the table for Junior Galette to return. He tweeted yesterday that the Redskins were the best fit for him but that the money “has to be fair.”

McPhee has played well but injuries have limited his impact the last two years. He started the 2016 season on injured reserve with a knee injury and he missed a total of seven games. Last year he missed three games with shoulder and knee injuries.


The Redskins likely are interested in McPhee for the right price. That price is considerably less than the $7 million he was going to make from the Bears this year before they let him go on February 26. There does not seem to be a hot market for his services; he has been a free agent for three and a half weeks and this is his first reported visit.

The Redskins would rather bring back Galette, who was much more effective as a pass rusher last year than his three sacks would indicate. But the price has to be right for both sides and apparently there is some work to be done towards working that out.

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