IRVING, Texas –The Cowboys below .500 for the first time this year after a disappointing loss to Denver last week. How do the Cowboys respond against the Redskins at AT&T Stadium Sunday night?
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
I'm positive the Redskins are going to throw some new looks at the Cowboys this weekend, and I'm pretty sure the Dallas defense isn't going to respond to well to it. I don't think Robert Griffin III is going to run for 100 yards, but I think he's got the mobility to evade the Dallas pass rush and make some plays. That said, I think the Cowboys offense will maintain its high performance from last week against an atrocious Washington secondary. With Miles Austin healthy, there should be even more options in the attack, and Tony Romo will find them for another 300-plus yard outing. Griffin and Alfred Morris will be able to move the ball well enough to score some points. But I think Romo and Co. lead Dallas to a close win. I'm thinking 34-31, Cowboys.
The Cowboys' defense will be happy to see anyone not named Peyton Manning this week. Robert Griffin III is still putting up nice numbers through the air, but he hasn't demonstrated the same explosiveness that made him so unstoppable last year. His defense hasn't helped him out much either, and I don't see that changing this weekend. I don't think the Cowboys offense spreads it out quite as much the way they did against the Broncos and the way many fans are clamoring for, but a more balanced attack will still get the victory. Terrance Williams will get sent on deeper routes and make one long grab, but Miles Austin will get more targets. Dez Bryant keeps his scoring streak going, while Bruce Carter gets back on track by affecting Robert Griffin III on the blitz.
This is a tricky game to gauge because while typically the Cowboys play the opposite of last week, how do we call last week's loss. Yes, it was a loss but offensively, they put on a show. So do the Cowboys bounce back from the tough defeat with a win, or do they falter offensively and play below the lofty expectations they've suddenly set. I think it's somewhere in between. I see the Cowboys struggling early on offense but picking it up in the second half to win by a touchdown. All this talk about RGIII not scrambling as much makes me think he'll break off a 30-yard run and probably have at least 50 yards rushing. Some random predictions include a turnover by Bruce Carter, a career-high rushing day for Joseph Randle (which could be one yard) but 120 rushing yards and two scores from DeMarco Murray.
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It has been a rough two weeks for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and the Cowboys defense. The promising efforts against the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams seem like distant memories. Those days of turnovers, quarterback pressure and getting off the field on third downs, have been replaced by opponents moving the ball like they were throwing 7-on-7 drills. This will not be an easy task to defend the Washington attack, headlined by Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon. But someone on this defense has to draw a line in the sand and find a way to make some game changing plays. The challenge will have to come from this current group, because Darren Woodson, Bob Lilly and Randy White are not walking through that door. My gut tells me that this defense will draw that line in the sand and find a way to get this season back on track with a great defensive effort.