The Cowboys face a pivotal moment in their season tomorrow. If they can find a way to beat the Redskins there will be a very good chance that the Cowboys will tied for first place after the Giants play the Packers on Sunday. The big obstacle in front of them is RG3.
This is the first game in what will likely be a decade or more of games against the exciting rookie quarterback. He has shown impressive athleticism and smarts early in his career. But, if you watch the Redskins closely, you will see that there is a reason why his passing stats are so stellar.
The Redskins throw a dazzling array of screen and play action passes. I don't mean to take anything away from what RG3 has done but his stats as a passer are very much related to the offensive scheme and his running ability more than anything else. The opposing defenses have to spend so much time worrying about containing him as a runner that it leaves the receivers in very favorable matchups.
So the Cowboys have to get the Redskins out of their game plan. There are a few ways to do that. The most obvious way to do it is to get out to a big lead. Unfortunately that isn't how the Cowboys typically operate. But Jason Garrett needs to go with an aggressive game plan to put points on the board early and often. The Redskins have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. But the Cowboys counter that with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
The Browns game should have taught Garrett that the quick passing game out of the shotgun is the best chance the Cowboys have to move the ball consistently going forward. The run blocking is terrible and the pass blocking is worse. But, if Romo can get the ball out quickly, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten should be able to pile up the yards for the offense.
On defense the Cowboys will need to stop the running game early on. If the Cowboys can force the Redskins to be a one dimensional offense then they can focus all of their attention on stopping RG3. He is going to make some big plays. You should expect to see that. But the Cowboys need to force him into some bad plays too.
The key is to make his bad plays outnumber his big plays. That is easier said than done, but Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer need to make him uncomfortable. Most of the Redskins big passing plays have come when RG3 is in the pocket. Keep him in the pocket and then bring pressure up the middle in his face. That will be the challenge. Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears and Jay Ratliff need to bring relentless pressure up the middle.
This is going to be a tough game for the Cowboys. The offensive line is a mess with injuries and poor play. The defense is missing starters all over the place. But the Redskins have similar problems with their team. I want the Cowboys to get out to an early, big lead but it is unlikely. So I'm going to pick the game to be close. I'm taking the Cowboys 23-20.