After a bye week and some much needed rest, the Washington Redskins face a critical matchup with the division rival Dallas Cowboys. As many of the NFC East’s four teams continue to falter, this early season battle could have important implications to the playoff race come December.
In their third game of the season, the Redskins defense finally appeared as if they had gotten their feet under them. Unfortunately, the high powered Cowboys offense will be a much greater challenge compared to the offense of the struggling Oakland Raiders. With veteran Reed Doughty replacing rookie Bacarri Rambo as a starter in the secondary, the Redskins add some much needed experience.
So far during the 2013 season both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have taken a step up in production for the Cowboys. Romo is seventh in the league in passing, while Bryant has already caught six touchdowns. Controlling this duo will be critical if the Redskins have any hopes of picking up an important road victory.
Offensively the Redskins should see some weaknesses to exploit. Peyton Manning just threw for 414 yards against the Cowboys on Sunday, showing the struggles of the Cowboys secondary. However, establishing a running game is crucial to exploiting the secondary, something the Redskins have not been able to do this year.
During 2012, the Redskins ran the ball better than almost anyone in the league. But in the 2013 season the magic has seemed to disappear. Alfred Morris has not been the same running back, and obviously Robert Griffin III’s running ability has been limited. To move the ball on Dallas, they will have to develop at least some sort of running game.
This weeks matchup vs. the Cowboys has much more than just bragging rights on the line. In a division marked by weak play, winning divisional games may be the deciding factor as to which of these four teams reaches the playoffs. Sunday night’s matchup between Washington and Dallas is just another step in that direction, but could be a decisive blow come December.