Five Reasons the Redskins Could Beat Dallas
In my Week 1 picks, I chose Dallas to squeak by Washington tomorrow night by the score of 21-17. I do think this game is going to be much more difficult for the Cowboys to win than many people realize, though. Here’s why. . .
1. It is a nationally televised game on opening weekend.
The most exciting aspect of opening day is that everyone is 0-0. Theoretically, each team has a chance at the ultimate prize, and that can be uplifting. That’s particularly true for a team that struggled the previous season.
Further, players bring their all when they know the entire country is watching. That’s of course true for the Cowboys’ players as well, but any significant increase in emotional play is likely an advantage for the underdog.
And the players aren’t the only ones who will be pumped up. The Redskins fans will be as rowdy as ever with all day and night to tailgate. Fed Ex Field is also the league’s second-largest stadium in terms of capacity, so you can bet the 90,000+ drunk fans will have that place rocking.
2. This is a completely new Washington Redskins team.
How do the Cowboys go about game-planning for this team? New quarterback, new head coach, new offensive system, new defensive system. This 2010 version of the Redskins doesn’t at all resemble the ’09 variety.
Most important for the Cowboys will be how they adapt to the Redskins’ new 3-4 defense. Traditionally, they’ve struggled against 3-4 teams.
3. Washington’s offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, coached in Houston last season.
So what, right? Well, you can bet little Shanny has used his connections in Houston to acquire an extensive scouting report on the ‘Boys, including how the Texans were able to move the ball so efficiently on offense during their preseason game. Yeah, it wasn’t a “real” game, but there are still aspects of the exhibition games that carry over into the regular season.
4. Road games within the division are always difficult.
Not much else to say here. It’s vital for teams to take care of business at home against division opponent’s, and Washington knows that.
5. McNabb to Moss
I would say priority No. 1 for the Cowboys’ defense is to ensure that the Redskins don’t score quickly. Yielding an “easy” touchdown is the fastest way to lose to an inferior ball club.
Washington really has one way they can consistently score quickly, and that is Santana Moss. His speed and overall skill set mesh very well with Donovan McNabb’s big arm. McNabb isn’t always very accurate, but he can definitely throw the deep ball.
In my Cowboys/Redskins Game Plan, I proposed that Dallas shade free safety Alan Ball to Santana Moss’ side of the field at all times, whether they are in Cover 2 (in which case it would be quite easy) or Cover 1.
Limiting the impact of Moss in this game is so crucial for Dallas, I’ll repeat what I said earlier:
If the Cowboys do end up blitzing and playing Cover 1, Ball should shade the side of Santana Moss very heavily. Moss is the one player on Washington who can beat Dallas deep (sorry, Devin Thomas) and, as I explained earlier, the ‘Boys cannot give up quick, easy scores on Sunday night. Ball needs to make sure he is in position to stop Moss, regardless of the coverage. . .even if it means leaving the opposing cornerback on an island. I’ll take my chances with either Terence Newman or Mike Jenkins on Joey Galloway.