Pay Attention to This: Cowboys-Redskins Preview

Jason Garrett vs. Washington: He is 9-4 against Washington and the Cowboys have won four in a row and five of six in Washington. Four of those wins, however, have been by four points of less. The games are close, but the Cowboys tend to figure out how to win at FedExField.

Key Matchup: TE Jordan Reed v. S Byron Jones. The Redskins are the rare team that uses its tight ends and running backs in the passing game as much as its receivers. Reed, 6-3 and 236 pounds, runs routes like a receiver, which makes him a difficult match. He’s having a down season with a 7.9 average on 26 receptions, but he caught 15 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in two games against the Cowboys last season. Jones has played better in the past few weeks - he had a season-high seven tackles against San Francisco - but he’ll need to play well for the Cowboys to beat Washington.

X Factor:  It sounds like Josh Norman will play after two games off because of a broken ribs. If he does, the question becomes how well does he play. He’s a physical corner with the ability to control Bryant without consistent help. Still, Bryant caught 12 passes for 174 yards last week and he played well against San Francisco, making seven catches, many of them contested for 63 yards, and a touchdown. If Norman plays, the Cowboys will challenge him in the running game to see if he’s as willing a tackler as usual.

Key Stat: Washington is tied for sixth in the NFL with 24 completions of 20 yards or more, The league average is 20. The average on those completions of 30 yards, which means the Redskins’ vertical passing game remains dangerous - even if it’s not as good as it was last season. The Cowboys’  defense is predicated on not giving up the big play. Dallas is tied for seventh in the NFL, having allowed 17 completions of 20 yards or more this season. Washington completed 11 passes of 20 yards or more in two games against Dallas last season but receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are gone.

GAME PLAN: The Cowboys blitzed last week after grabbing early lead against san Francisco, in part, because they wanted C.J. Beathard, making his first start, to make quick decisions. This week, you shouldn’t be surprised to see Dallas playing a lot of zone to limit the number of big plays they give up, and their front four should be able to pressure Kirk Cousins given the state of his injury-ravaged offensive line.

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