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)