IRVING, Texas – My two keys to Monday's game center around Colt McCoy, who is expected to make the start for Washington.
I think the Cowboys are going to center their gameplan on McCoy, and making him be the guy that beats them. Whether he is up to that task will determine a lot about how this game plays out.
Cowboys Win If:
I believe the key to a Cowboys victory is extremely simple – put pressure on this Redskins offense to have to keep up on the score board.
The Cowboys average a touchdown down more per game than the Redskins, and if you look at the history of Colt McCoy as a starter in this league, his teams traditionally do not score many points. McCoy is the type of quarterback that is very steady but not spectacular and really relies on the weapons around him to make the big plays.
It is rare that the game is clearly on his shoulders where he is required to make throws down after down in order for the offense to have success. By playing this way, he is not going to have those big games, number-wise, to carry an offense.
On the other side of the field, Tony Romo can carry an offense and this is where he can put McCoy and his teammates in a bind by continuing to execute in the red zone and their goal-to-go opportunities. This Cowboys offense puts so much pressure on a defense to have to play well in the red zone because of all the weapons that Scott Linehan can put on the field in any situation.
The Cowboys will win this game by putting Colt McCoy in situations where it is now on his shoulders and he is going to be forced to make plays in order to keep up on the scoreboard and that will be rough on him.
Redskins Win If:
The biggest concern I have going into this game with the Redskins is their skill players on offense. Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed are honestly matchups that are not particularly favorable for the Cowboys -- even with Colt McCoy under the center.
[embeddedad0]The majority of the Redskins' offensive game plan relies on the play action pass, which allows the quarterback to make simple throws. To have a really good play action offense, you need to have the ability to run the ball -- which this offense has struggled to do. Even with those problems there is no doubt in my mind that Jay Gruden will continue to run the ball, not only to help his quarterback but also to keep this Cowboys defense honest and not allow them just to play coverage.
What Rod Marinelli and his defense can expect to see on Monday night is a steady diet of boots, waggles, slants and screens, all of which comes off their play action passes scheme. When you watch them play, you get the sense that they can be a very frustrating offense to deal with because of the way they get you moving one way, then bring the ball back the other way as you have over committed. If the Redskins are going to win this game it will be due to the fact that they were able to use their play action game to protect Colt McCoy, but also to sustain drives and keep this Cowboys offense off the field and limiting their number of possessions in the game.