Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Cowboys' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Washington Redskins.
The Opponent: When the Redskins fell to 3-6, coach Mike Shanahan appeared to throw in the white towel on the season when he said that the team would spend the final seven weeks evaluating the team to see who would be part of its future. It seems everyone wants to be a part of the future because six straight wins have left the 'Skins on the doorstep of a division title and guaranteed to have a winning record that has people dreaming pretty big in D.C.
The Line: Redskins by 3.
Last Game: There were no highlight reel plays by Robert Griffin III in last week's 27-20 win over the Eagles in what was almost certainly Andy Reid's final home game as Philly's head coach, but he threw two touchdowns and let Alfred Morris do his thing to get the win. If the big question about RG3 is his ability to stay healthy and be a long-term success under center, games like that are the argument that he can do it.
The Coach: Mike Shanahan's greatest success has come with John Elway at quarterback, so it isn't much of a surprise that he's finally winning games in Washington now that he's got another extraordinary player at the position. Maybe that means he's not quite as good a coach as some would have you believe, but at least he's smart enough to make use of the special players that fall in his lap.
The Offense: It hasn't been that long since Thanksgiving, so you probably remember the sight of Redskins players sprinting into the end zone with Cowboys defenders trying to keep up with them. The Redskins run plays and formations that you just aren't seeing from every team, something that should benefit the Cowboys in a return engagement. Griffin and Morris keep showing new wrinkles, though, and that could just as easily mean familiarity does little to help Rob Ryan.
The Defense: It hasn't been that long since Thanksgiving, so you probably remember the sight of Cowboys players sprinting past Redskins defenders to turn a 28-3 game into a one-score affair in the fourth quarter. They couldn't finish off the comeback, but there are going to be plays on the field for Tony Romo and company to make in Week 17. It could well come down to whether or not they can make enough of them to counteract RG3's exploits.
Key Matchup: DeMarcus Ware vs. his elbow - The Cowboys have been in a do or die situation in four of the last five years and they've died in two of their previous attempts. Avoiding a hat trick will take great performances from the team's best players, a list that obviously includes Ware even at less than 100 percent. There's simply too many other missing pieces from the defense for the Cowboys to win this one without an elite performance from Ware.
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