With another unexpected loss by the "dream team" today the Cowboys have a shot to pull into a tie for first place in the NFC East with a victory on Monday night. While the Redskins are coming into the game at 2-0 it isn't like they are world beaters. The Cowboys will have to play good football to win but they don't have to play a perfect game to beat the Redskins. Here are my keys to victory.
1. Make Rex Grossman uncomfortable. A lot of people laugh off the prospect of getting beaten by Rex Grossman. But when Grossman is on he is a very good quarterback. That is the bad news. The good news is that Grossman is also one of the worst quarterbacks in the league when he has a lot of pressure on him. It will be very important for the Rob Ryan defense to bring pressure at Grossman all game long.
2. Contain the Redskins running game. The best way to pressure the quarterback is to put the offense in obvious passing situations. The Cowboys need to keep Tim Hightower under control and it will make priority #1 (see above) much easier to achieve.
3. Don't let Santana Moss get deep. We all know what can happen when Moss gets behind the defense. Moss is the type of receiver who will disappear if you take him out of the game early on.
4. Protect Tony Romo at all costs. While I would love to see Romo come out and throw for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns I really don't think this is the week for that. Miles Austin is out and Dez Bryant will be a game time decision. With the limited options in the passing game it will be important for the short passing game to efficiently rack up first downs. It could be a big game for Jason Witten and for the running backs in the screen game.
5. Run the ball. I don't expect the running game to suddenly put up 250 yards. But it will be important to control the time of possession and keep the offense in manageable down and distances. I'm not looking for 60 yard touchdowns. But 4 yards a carry would be nice.
This game isn't like climbing Mt. Everest for the Cowboys. All they need to do is play solid football and they will win the game. It would be nice to get help from the defense with a few turnovers and on special teams with some nice returns. I expect the Cowboys to come out focused a play solid football. It won't be a blowout but the Cowboys will win. I predict a 23-13 win for the Cowboys.