Circle your calendars.
The Redskins will head to Dallas on October 13th for a Week 6, NBC Sunday Night Football (8:30pm), clash before returning home to host Dallas in a Week 16 tilt at FedExField on December 22nd at 1pm (full schedule).
The burgundy and gold hit the bye week early this year in Week 5 which means that the Redskins will face the Cowboys following the bye. Considering that the Redskins are coached my Mike Shanahan and that Shanahan is currently 11-6 in games following bye weeks, there’s positive sign number one.
Remember last season following the Bye Week? It was a 31-6 thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles and the beginning of a seven game winning streak.
Anyway, here are five things to watch for heading into next year’s matchups against Dallas.
1) Can WR Santana Moss Add To His Totals?
Moss finished last year with six catches for 64 total yards versus Dallas and now has 80 career receptions for 1,147 receiving yards against the Cowboys in his career, both the most among active players. That being said, even though Moss has experienced success versus Dallas over the course of his career, it’s not only up to him to deliver. The receivers and tight ends need to bring their ‘A’ game to take some pressure off of Morris and the passing game, especially considering Dallas’ feisty pass rush.
Griffin III accounted for five total touchdowns in the two games. The rookie quarterback was 28/45 attempts for 411 yards and four touchdowns (one interception) through the air, adding 92 yards rushing and one touchdown on the ground. Following the Week 12 victory, he was named the Galloping Gobbler MVP and Week 12 Rookie of the Week.
Morris was no slouch himself. The running back combined for 313 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the two games (156.5 yards per game) and his 200 yards in Week 17 were the most by a Redskins player in a single game in the Mike Shanahan era. Now that the book is out on the talented rookie, will he be able to follow up his dominating performances in 2013?
3) Can The Redskins Continue To Win The Turnover Battle?
The Redskins forced six takeaways compared to committing just one turnover (+5 turnover margin) against the Cowboys last season.
In fact, the team did not turn the ball over at all in their Week 17 victory. The effort helped set a team record for fewest turnovers in a season (14), surpassing the previous team record of 16 set in a nine-game season in 1982.
Week 17 also marked the sixth game of the 2012 season that the Redskins finished a game without a turnover, also a team record.
Will the defense be able to continue to force the Dallas offense into committing turnovers? Can the offense continue to protect the rock? We’ll have to wait and see. If last year was any indication of what’s in store for 2013 then the Redskins’ future looks bright.
4) The Redskins’ Defense
Defense was a big reason why the Redskins were able to pull out two wins versus Dallas last year. Did they completely shut the Dallas offense down? No, but they did enough to get the job done and force crucial and timely mistakes out of the Cowboys.
For the most part, the secondary got younger in their offseason signings and through the draft with the additions of cornerbacks E.J. Biggers, David Amerson and safeties Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out prior to the season. Roles will begin to take shape during the upcoming OTAs and will start to be defined during training camp in Richmond, Va under the hot July sun.
Linebacker London Fletcher will be a year older but a year wiser. For now the saavy veteran has shown no signs of slowing down but, in order for the team to thrive and take that next step, it will be critical that the captain of the defense be able to maintain the high-level of play that he’s shown during his fifteen years in the league.
5) Be Prepared For A Grudge Match
There’s not much to say about this one. We all know that no matter what the teams records are heading into the matchup that games between NFC East opponents are tough, hard-nosed, and physical battles. Eleven of the Redskins’ last 12 road games against the Cowboys have been decided by seven points or less and the Redskins’ all-time home record against the Cowboys, including postseason play, stands at 28-27.
Moral of the story is that the two games will most likely come down to the wire.
Bottom line: The Redskins swept the Cowboys last season, the teams’ first sweep of the Cowboys since 2005. A sweep of the Cowboys in 2013 would represent the first time in team history the Redskins had swept the Cowboys in consecutive seasons.
But, hey, with the talent and youth currently on the Redskins roster you just never know.
Click here for a complete list of news and notes about each of the Redskins’ opponents this year.
Tags: NFC East, redskins-dallas rivalry, rivalry
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