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Scout’s Eye: Week 8 Matchup In Washington Comes Down To O-Line Play
FRISCO, Texas -- Here are the two big keys to this game, which I think will go a long way in determining who gets the win on Sunday at FedEx Field.
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
I usually leave the weather forecasts to Mickey Spagnola. But taking a look at what's ahead for Sunday, it appears that there is a great chance for some heavy rain during the game.
Jason Garrett was asked during his weekly press conference about the possibility of having to deal with the rain and would the team do anything extra to prepare? From his answer it didn't appear that they were going to do anything more than they normally do for preparation.
I agree with what Rob Phillips told me during Talkin' Cowboys -- that this reminded him of the altitude talk during the preparation for the Broncos game. If you think too much about it, then it becomes a factor. If heavy rain does become part of the day, the Cowboys have the one ingredient that travels no matter the weather, and that's the ability to run the ball.
They've found something these last two weeks, not only with the offensive line -- but the running back, as well. The Cowboys are one of the few teams in the league that can successfully run the ball but also score points.
The Redskins are middle of the league when it comes to defending the run. They've allowed 17 runs of 10-plus yards a carry. The Cowboys, offensively, have had 25 rushes of 10-plus yards and seven carries of 20-plus yards.
For the Cowboys to win this game, they will need to rush the ball more than their completion total. It is that recipe that generally never fails for a victory.
Washington Redskins Win If:
With the condition of their offensive line, this is a very dangerous game for Jay Gruden and his squad.
Gruden and Kirk Cousins have put up huge numbers against the Cowboys, but they have little to show for it in the win column. Cousins threw for over 800 yards in the previous two meetings between these clubs -- with both resulting in losses for the Redskins.
With a potentially compromised line, the question for Gruden is, will he be able to call a normal game plan with Cousins, knowing that the Cowboys can take advantage of opponents that have struggled to pass protect? Gruden has the quarterback and the skill players to make this work, but that offensive line's health is a problem.
Where teams have had success against the Cowboys defensively has been running the ball, but with Sean Lee back in the starting lineup, things improved in that area for the Cowboys as they were able to tackle better and build comfortable lead taking the 49ers out of their running game. I believe that Gruden will come out trying to run the ball to protect his guys initially. If he finds out that running along with a quick passing game has success, then he will stick with that and hope he can hit the big play down the field, where the Cowboys have struggled some in the secondary.
For the Redskins to win this game, it is going to fall on their offensive line and their ability to not allow the Cowboys to control the line of scrimmage. Read