Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys: Preview and Prediction

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 11, 2013

Dec 30, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) talks with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) after the game at FedEX Field. The Redskins won 28 - 18. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

First place is on the line in the NFC East, as two of the richest and most popular franchises in NFL history meet for the 107th time Sunday night on national television.

Sounds appetizing, except when you consider that we're looking at a matchup between two defenses that have been torn apart all year and two teams that have a combined record of 3-6. 

Still, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys gave us two very intriguing nationally televised games last year, so there's no reason to expect anything but drama and suspense on NBC Sunday. Here's our final preview of the game, along with a prediction.

What Washington Must Do to Win, Offensive Edition

Don't turn it over. Dallas' defense is extremely vulnerable right now. If you control the ball and avoid big mistakes, you'll score plenty of points.  

What Washington Must Do to Win, Defensive Edition

Find a way to contain Dez Bryant, just like in the regular-season finale last year. If the Redskins can make an inconsistent running game or Miles AustinESPN.com lists him as probable with a hamstring issuebeat them on defense, they'll stand a chance.

That means they need a big game from DeAngelo Hall, who needs support.

What Dallas Must Do to Win, Offensive Edition

Everything it did against Denver, save for that fourth-quarterback interception. Honestly, the Cowboys have really discovered a nice formula on offense.

With DeMarco Murray playing well and Austin coming back, they just need to keep doing the same thing against a weak Washington defense. Only turnovers can cost them this game. 

What Dallas Must Do to Win, Defensive Edition

Don't allow big plays. Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III both aren't themselves. Let them run all they want. Just don't let the Redskins change the game with deep shots to Pierre Garcon and company.  

5 Most Important Non-Quarterbacks, Redskins Edition

DeAngelo Hall: He did a stellar job against Bryant in Washington's division-clinching victory last season, limiting him to four catches on eight targets. His team will need the same thing from him Sunday night.

Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan: This duo is on here pretty much every week. Pressure was the key to that victory in Oakland. The Redskins need more of it against Tony Romo.

Trent Williams: Say hello to DeMarcus Ware.

Alfred Morris: As good as Roy Helu's been, Morris is still the key complementary weapon for RGIII. 

5 Most Important Non-Quarterbacks, Cowboys Edition

Dez Bryant: So yeah, that matchup with Hall is the one to watch.

Tyron Smith and Doug Free: If they can give Romo a clean pocket against Orakpo and Kerrigan, Dallas will be in good shape. 

DeMarcus Ware: That matchup with Williams is pretty big too. This defense needs to create way more pressure.

Sean Lee: The Cowboys need him and Bruce Carter to really step it up against RGIII and that Washington rushing attack.

Injury Analysis, Redskins Edition

The Redskins got pretty healthy over the bye week. Alfred Morris (ribs) and Jordan Reed (quad) have been practicing and look as though they'll be good to go. We'll also see how much more progress Robert Griffin III has made. 

The front seven also gets Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins back from suspension, but John Keim of ESPN.com reports that it's unclear how much of a role either will play Sunday night. 

Injury Analysis, Cowboys Edition

According to ESPN.com, Miles Austin will be back in the fold. The Cowboys were 2-1 with him in the lineup to start the season, but have gone 0-2 without him. They really missed the experienced slot receiver in San Diego.

They might also get linebacker Justin Durant back, which would be big considering the shape of the front seven and how dangerous the Redskins are on the ground. Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com lists Durant as questionable as he recovers from a groin injury.

B/R NFC East Blog Prediction

On one hand, I fear the Cowboys could be in for a letdown after an emotionally charged loss to the league's best team. On the other hand, this is a division rival—the reigning NFC East champion, no less—at home and in prime time.

The Redskins should be strong coming off the bye, and they won in Dallas last year, so this could go either way.

However, the Cowboys are still the significantly more talented team right now. They win a close one. 

Cowboys 30, Redskins 27


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