|Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, celebrating a win against the Eagles, thrives on the big stage. (AP)|
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas (field turf, retractable roof)
When: Thursday, 4:25 ET (Fox)
Forecast: Partly cloudy and 77 degrees.
Spread: Cowboys by 3.5
Records: Redskins (Overall: 4-6, NFC East: 1-1); Cowboys (Overall: 5-5, NFC East: 2-0)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Nov. 20, 2011: Cowboys 27, Redskins 24 (OT);Sept. 26, 2011: Cowboys 18, Redskins 16. Series record: Cowboys lead 62-40-2.
What matters: Stopping the big play. The Redskins were terrific at doing just that vs. Philadelphia, at least when it came to the receivers (and they haven’t allowed more than 215 passing yards in the past three games). But they benefitted from facing a rookie QB making his first start. The Redskins should be able to generate a rush, but with a veteran QB in Tony Romo throwing to explosive wideouts, will they apply enough pressure and in time?
Who matters: QB Robert Griffin III. The Cowboys haven’t yet faced him, but they have seen Cam Newton this season. Griffin excels on play-action passes, while the Cowboys struggle to defend them. Griffin, making his first trip to Texas as a pro, thrives on the big stage and Thursday qualifies as one.
Key matchups: Redskins LT Trent Williams and RT Tyler Polumbus against outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys’ pass rushers have combined for 13 of the team’s 18 sacks. They’ll rotate sides, which means Ware vs. Polumbus will provide tense moments for the Redskins. Also, LOLB Ryan Kerrigan faces a struggling RT in Doug Free. He had issues last week reacting to a second move by a rusher -- if he sits for a bull rush, he struggles to adapt to a wide rush.
Inside stuff: The Redskins can exploit the issues along Dallas' offensive line by doing what it did vs. a battered Eagles' line last week: run a lot of stunts. The Cowboys struggled to stop this vs. Cleveland, partly because the makeshift line did not work in unison, allowing rushers to easily break free. The Redskins ran stunts using their linebackers and ends with success. They also do it inside with NT Barry Cofield and DE Stephen Bowen.
Connections: DE Stephen Bowen played for Dallas from 2006-10 before signing with Washington. Dallas G Derrick Dockery played with Washington from 2003-06 and again from 2009-10. The Redskins have 11 players who hail from Texas, including Griffin -- a star at nearby Baylor.
Injury report: LB London Fletcher sprained his left ankle in the win over Philadelphia and, while he did return, he did not finish the game. Fletcher did not practice this week but will test out his ankle in pre-game.
Stat you should know: In two NFC East games, Griffin has been outstanding. He’s completed 34 of 43 passes for 458 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. He’s also run for 173 yards. Griffin put the Redskins in position to win at Dallas and led a 25-point win over Philadelphia last week.
Looking ahead: If the Redskins win in Dallas, they’ll return home with, potentially, first place on the line in the NFC East as they host New York on Dec. 3. They host Baltimore the following week before road games at Cleveland and Philadelphia. A win Sunday makes the next few weeks interesting.