Friday, November 18, 2011

Get Ready for Another Wild One Against the Redskins

I don’t know what it is about the rivalry the Cowboys have with the Redskins. But for some reason the games are decided by some sort of wacky play on a regular basis. You don’t have to look back more than a few games to see what I mean.

Last year the Cowboys appeared to win and then lost on the final play of the game when Alex Barron was called for a holding penalty that nullified the game winning score.

This year Dan Bailey hit six field goals to provide all 18 of the Cowboys points as Tony Romo made a miraculous play on 3rd and 18 late in the game to get the Cowboys in position for the game winner.

You can go back not only for a few years but for a few decades and you’ll see similar games that have been played between the two teams almost every season. So why would this game be any different?

On paper it would appear that the Cowboys and Redskins are heading in opposite directions. The Cowboys are just starting to get on a roll and are beginning to look like a playoff team. The Redskins have lost 5 straight and appear headed for a top 5 draft pick. But those types of things don’t usually matter in the Cowboys-Redskins series.

The year the Cowboys went 1-15 with first year coach Jimmy Johnson guess who they beat for that lone victory. That’s right, the Washington Redskins. No one expected it that day and no one expects the Redskins to be able to win this week.

I’m not saying all of this to predict a loss by the Cowboys this week. I just think we need to realize that another 44-7 win is probably not in order this week. The Cowboys should win, but it will likely be much closer than that if history tells us anything.

The Cowboys will obviously try to keep their running game rolling this week. But with Tony Fiammetta out battling a mystery illness the running game will lose one of its biggest assets. The good news is that Felix Jones will return and will likely give a nice #2 option to the running attack.

The Redskins have a good defense despite what their record shows. The majority of the losses the team has had are due to the completely inept play they have had at the quarterback position. Tony Romo and the rest of the offense won’t have to be special to win the game this week. But they need to protect the ball so that the Redskins have to work for any points they get.

The defense will be challenged to stop the run yet again this week. You know that Mike Shanahan wants to be able to hide Rex Grossman with his game plan. That means a heavy dose of the running game. If the Cowboys can shut down the run then Grossman will be forced to throw the ball. The Redskins have no receivers who can provide a threat and Fred Davis at tight end is the only real playmaker on the offensive side of the ball.

It is hard to envision a scenario where the Cowboys lose this game barring a catastrophic injury to Romo or a Romo meltdown. But, as I say that, all I have to do is picture a few of the crazy things that have gone on in this rivalry over the last few years to realize that it only takes a few odd plays here or there and suddenly the Cowboys will be on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

I think the Cowboys will find a way to overcome any odd moments that come up in this game. I’m not expecting a blowout this week. But I wasn’t expecting one last week either. The Redskins just can’t score enough points to keep up with the Cowboys offense. I’m picking the Cowboys to win 24-12.

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