It's the 113th all-time matchup in the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry – and both franchises are seeking their first win of the 2016 season following Week 1 losses.
An 0-2 start doesn't doom a team's playoff chances, but history says it's quite an uphill climb. The Week 2 trip to FedExField might carry a little extra weight for the Cowboys since it's their second straight NFC East game, having lost to the Giants at home this past Sunday.
Leading into Sunday's noon (Central) kickoff, here are the gut feelings for staff writers Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus.
Rob Phillips: It's too early for trends after one week, and that applies to both teams in this matchup. Kirk Cousins threw more than one interception in only four games last year, and the Redskins gave up 30-plus points in only four games last year. I expect them to be better Sunday on the both sides of the ball. On the other hand, it's hard to envision the Cowboys' struggles in the run game developing into a weekly issue, even if defenses continue loading the box and daring rookie Dak Prescott to make downfield throws. I expect a more efficient performance from the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris in his first game against his old team. Then again, one thing I've learned covering this rivalry over the years is it's tough to predict anything other than a tight game. If the O-Line can control the line of scrimmage better than last Sunday against the Giants, I think the Cowboys win a close one.
David Helman: I can't shake the images of DeAngelo Williams running wild on the Washington Redskins' defense. Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but I think that's the overriding aspect of this game. The Cowboys want to run the ball to make life easier on Dak Prescott, and the Redskins don't look like they're equipped to stop them. Of course, Washington has an explosive offense that's going to make things difficult, and I assume Kirk Cousins will hit this Dallas secondary for two or three big gains on the day. But Washington's ground game doesn't scare me much, and I trust that the Cowboys can find a way to get off the field if the Redskins are stuck being one-dimensional. I honestly think the Dallas offense will look very similar to last week, but they'll be able to run the ball – and that will make all the difference. I'm calling for Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris to combine for 150 total rushing yards, and I think the Cowboys will force a late takeaway to hold on to the lead. Dallas wins – something like 24-20.
[embeddedad0]Bryan Broaddus: I just don't see the Redskins having success running the ball despite what the Giants were able to do last weekend. Where Jay Gruden has an advantage is in the passing game. Kirk Cousins will be able to get rid of the ball quickly and that will put a great deal of pressure on this Cowboys secondary to have to cover. If there are matchups to feel good about, it's Byron Jones and Morris Claiborne. I have my concerns about Brandon Carr and the health of Orlando Scandrick. My gut feeling is that the Redskins' passing attack will be too much for this secondary to have to deal with down after down and it will be unable to do anything about it. Kirk Cousins and the Redskins pass their way to a 28-24 victory over the Cowboys.
Nick Eatman: Hopefully, I don't bomb these predictions as bad as last week. To me, this really isn't the second game of the season. This is just an extension of what we saw last year when Romo wasn't in the game. I know it's supposed to be a new year, but the results are the same so far. The Cowboys have to prove to me they can without Romo as the starter. (I'm sure the contrarian would tell me they actually have won up in Washington with Matt Cassel.) Yes, it's happened once in the last two years, but we all know things are vastly different when Romo isn't there. They win last week – maybe rather easily – if Romo is the quarterback. So this team must figure out how to win without him. I see Dak playing well and getting two rushing touchdowns. But I see a blocked punt by one of the teams in this game. Earlier on Friday, I said on our podcast the Redskins would get the win. But the Cowboys have won three straight games up there. This is a place they can win and I think they get it done. I'll say the Cowboys 27-23.