Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins: Preview & Prediction

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

Sep 26, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett meets with Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan at the end of the game at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Redskins 18-16.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In case you're just showing up now, we've spent quite a bit of time this week breaking down the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins ahead of their crucial Week 17 matchup on Sunday night. 

Here's an in-depth look at the Cowboys, along with an in-depth look at the Redskins. And here's our proposed game plan for the 'Boys, along with the same thing for the 'Skins.

Now we cap off the week with a final preview of the big game, along with a prediction. 


What Dallas must do to win, offensive edition: Avoid turnovers and maintain balance to keep the Washington pass rush at bay before taking shots when appropriate. 

What Dallas must do to win, defensive edition: Avoid the blitz and focus on stopping Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon. 


What Washington must do to win, offensive edition: Spread the ball around against a balanced secondary, take what they give you underneath and let Morris set the tone. 

What Washington must do to win, defensive edition: Control Dez Bryant while getting enough pressure to prevent Tony Romo from finding deep options. 


Five most important non-quarterbacks, Cowboys edition: Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Doug Free, DeMarcus Ware

Throw Anthony Spencer in there at 5-A. Witten should be Romo's top option against this type of defense, while Bryant is the hottest player on the team. Smith and Free have to hold up to give Romo time to hit those two, as well as Miles Austin. Ware and Spencer will have to get natural pressure because the 'Boys can't afford to blitz Robert Griffin III. 


Five most important non-quarterbacks, Redskins edition: Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Ryan Kerrigan

Again, Morris has to be the centerpiece of the offense, especially with Dallas' scary pass rush and RG3's knee injury. Garcon will again be the primary receiving option and Williams and Polumbus will be responsible for containing Ware and Spencer. Kerrigan has to have another big game leading the Redskins' pass rush. 


Injury analysis, Cowboys edition: The defense has obviously been ravaged by the loss of guys like Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Jay Ratliff and Kenyon Coleman. Making matters worse, DeMarcus Ware and Ernie Sims aren't 100 percent, either, although Ware will most definitely play. He hasn't been the same this season, though, which puts a lot of pressure on Spencer. 


Injury analysis, Redskins edition: Another week of recuperation should help Griffin become a more effective runner after he was held to just four yards rushing in Week 16. He might also have his right tackle back, as Tyler Polumbus is questionable (per The Washington Times' Rich Campbell). But Polumbus has struggled this year anyway and Maurice Hurt played well in his stead against Philadelphia. Washington's in better shape than Dallas.


B/R NFC East Blog prediction: The Redskins easily outplayed the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Since then, injuries have started to catch up to Dallas on defense while the Redskins have gotten hotter on both sides of the ball. Can't see them losing this one at home. 

Redskins 30, Cowboys 23