Cowboys OT Doug Free vs. Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan
In this matchup between the Cowboys and Redskins, there are several ones along the offensive and defensive lines that can shift the direction of this game either way. DeMarcus Ware vs. Trent Williams and Tyron Smith vs. Brian Orakpo are all worthy of our thoughts, but the one that has my attention, deals with Doug Free vs. Ryan Kerrigan.
As much as I have seen Orakpo play, I believe that Kerrigan is just as dangerous. He plays both the run and pass with equal effort and skill. Kerrigan is one of those players that keep coming after you. There is no give-up or quit in his game. Just when you think you have him blocked, he gets you with that burst of extra effort and gets a sack or a tackle for loss. Where Free has to be careful, is not allowing him to finish plays, because that's his best trait. Kerrigan has good football strength and he will use it to his advantage. Free has been playing at a high level this season and he will need to continue to do so if he is going to be able to counter from what I have seen in Kerrigan.
Free's technique has improved to the point, where it has allowed him to just play with ease and there has been far less struggle in his game than what we had seen the past two seasons. This is one matchup where Doug Free cannot have an off day or there will be trouble for this Cowboys offense.
Cowboys LB Sean Lee vs. Redskins RB Alfred Morris
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has been 58 percent pass to 42 percent run through four game this season. As talented as Robert Griffin III is throwing the ball, I believe that is the balance that Shanahan doesn't want. The Redskins have struggled on defense this season and have been behind in the majority of their games and have to throw to get back in them. If Shanahan can play with a lead or be equal in a game, I can see him trying to use Alfred Morris in a way to control the game like he was able to do against the Cowboys last year.
There is no secret that Monte Kiffin and his defense has struggled with the pass but he needs to worry about Morris running the ball downhill at him. Morris is one of those backs that can wear you down as the game moves along. When you play a read option, you need to have defenders in place to handle all the options. If you don't, there will be problems. What I have noticed on tape is that you still see the "Pistol" or "Ace" formations, so the threat is still there to run the ball but it hasn't been on the legs of Griffin III or even Morris that much.
If Shanahan does strive for that balance, look for Morris to get plenty of opportunities and this is where Sean Lee needs to be at his best to stop Morris before he has a chance to get going. There will be some serious collisions between these two Sunday night.