DALLAS vs. WASHINGTON
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., AT&T Stadium
TV: 7:30 p.m., NBC
Records: Dallas 2-3, Washington 1-3
Series: Dallas leads, 62-42-2
Last meeting: Washington, 28-18 (2012, in Washington)
Betting line: Dallas -4
Weather: 85 degrees, 40% chance of rain
Division games are always important and when you add to the equation that a) Dallas has lost two games in a row b) they are playing at home, it becomes almost a 'must win' game. Washington finally got off the snide last week as they defeated Oakland on the road after trailing 14-0 in the first quarter. Robert Griffin III is not back to full health, so this is a great opportunity for the Cowboys to get a win. Let's see how these two teams match up:
Dallas offense vs. Washington defense
Anytime a team puts up 48 points, it should win the game, yet here the Cowboys sit at 2-3. Romo was once again asked to do too much as he attempted 36 passes, threw for 506 yards, five touchdowns and one costly interception. On the other hand, DeMarco Murray wasn't asked to do enough as he only had 12 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown. In his last two games, Murray has 26 carries, which matches his total for the St. Louis game (Cowboys' last win). Every week, this preview talks about seeking balance for Dallas and this week is no different. The Redskins are 31st in the league against the run as they average more than 142 yards allowed each game. When Dallas has given the ball to Murray 20 or more times, the team is 2-0. The game plan has to come down to one simple word: balance.
Dallas defense vs. Washington offense
When a defense gives up more than 50 points in a NFL game, how does it respond? We will find out Sunday evening when Monte's squad attempts to get up off the mat after being knocked out by Manning and Co.
Washington brings a passing offense ranked eighth in the league to AT&T Stadium and a running game ranked 17th. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have given more than 400 yards passing in consecutive weeks. With each passing week, RG3 becomes more healthy and, therefore, more dangerous.
DeMarco Murray vs. Washington front seven: Murray and the Dallas running game needs to tee off against a Washington squad ranked 28th in the league against the run. LeSean McCoy ran for 184 yards against them in Week 1 while James Starks ran for 132 in Week 2. Since then, Washington hasn't faced a veteran or an elite back to exploit their weakness. This is the type of game that Murray needs to be fed the ball and fed often.
The Washington return game has been average at best with rookie running back Chris Thompson (Florida State) handling the majority of kick and punt returns. Backup kicker John Potter has only attempted four field goals (made three) while starter Kai Forbath has been dealing with a pulled groin muscle. Forbath may see action for the first time this Sunday since suffering the injury Week 1. Dwayne Harris had another solid week returning kicks last week as he averaged more than 28 yards per kickoff return. Dan Bailey was perfect on two field goals and is nine of 11 on the season.
Washington looks to begin a winning streak while the Cowboys are trying to stop their losing ways. For everything the offense did right in the last game, the defense was wrong. Sunday night's game will be an opportunity for Romo and Co. to get back to .500 and move to 2-0 against the division. It's only early October, but this is a must win.
A lot has been made of the Washington franchise's mascot in recent years, but this year it seems to have hit its apex. In recent days while the government is shut down and politicians on both sides can't seem to agree on much of anything, they tend to agree that the name 'Redskins' is offensive. If you listen to the game on 105.3 The Fan this Sunday, you will hear an ad from the Oneida Indian Nation that opposes the team name. Washington owner Daniel Snyder wrote the following recently in a letter to fans of Washington:
'I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name,' he wrote. 'But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means.'
The name means money, which is why Snyder has no intentions of it ever being changed as long as he is the owner. Cowboys' owner said the following on his weekly segment on New School with Shan and RJ:
'Well, I don't think anyone has ever named their team to be uncomplimentary to the entity or person or group or namesake. All team names have always been a positive attempt at [representing] the namesake. And so the intent is very positive here. I'm very sensitive, and we should always listen to those that feel that you're being insensitive. That's real, and that's valid, and ought to be always looked at.'
'But also we're dealing with that not everybody looks at it the same way,' Jones continued. And so I think that's there, and no, I don't want to weigh in on it, other than the fact that I know that it was intended initially and is today to be complimentary.'
Prediction: Dallas 27, Washington 21
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of 'Chin Music' and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.comor on Twitter@emiddlebrook