FRISCO, Texas – Last week, I said the Giants would be in good shape if they could control the Dallas offensive line – and that certainly played a huge role in the final outcome.
Let's take a look at my two biggest factors heading into the Week 2 matchup:
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
Jay Gruden can come out and talk all about how they want to run the ball, but that's not Washington's strength. The Redskins are built to throw the ball, and with their weapons on offense, that's what they do best. Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed put a tremendous amount of pressure on the opponent's coverage.
They get in multiple formations and work route combinations that are difficult to defend. Defensively, when you feel like you have them covered, one of these talented players finds space and Kirk Cousins finds him. The Redskins can get plays in chunks and can do it quickly. Jackson and Crowder have the ability to take those underneath plays and turn them into huge gains before the defense has time to react.
My concern for the defense is the health of Orlando Scandrick. He is the one player that you could move around in order to take away a Jackson or even Reed, but he's not right physically. Anthony Brown has ability and is more than willing to deal with the challenge ahead, but he's not Scandrick.
For the Cowboys to win this game, they are going to disregard the run and focus on their nickel and dime packages to play coverage. Matchups are going to be key here and how well they are able to execute will be the difference in this game. They must eliminate those chunk plays from Washington.
Washington Redskins Win If:
The Redskins defensively were worn down by the Steelers' ability to run the ball on Monday night. Where the Giants had success against the Cowboys was controlling the front with their defensive line.
The Redskins play a different scheme from the Giants in that they operate in a 3-4 as opposed to a 4-3. Kedric Golston, Chris Baker, Ziggy Hood and Ricky Jean-Francois are not as good as what the Dallas offensive line faced against the Giants. The Giants were able to get off blocks quickly and disrupt the running game before Ezeikel Elliott was able to get going.
The plan for the Cowboys is pretty simple: they want to run the ball and work to control the game. By doing this it will allow them to get in other areas of their offense like their play action game. Look for Washington defensive coordinator Joe Barry to put the physical DeAngelo Hall down in the box to help in the running game, because he believes that he can win the match ups on the outside with his cornerbacks.
For the Redskins to win this game, they're going to need to get off blocks early and often. It will not be easy for them to control the front -- especially with the Cowboys coming off the memory of what happened to them last week and their own doubt from the Pittsburgh game. But if they play well as a front seven, they can win this game.