'Skins/Cowboys Preview & Prediction

Dallas looks to make another statement Sunday afternoon against NFC East rival Washington.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET

GAMEDATE: 9/28/08

SURFACE: Sportfield Realgrass

TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)

SERIES: 95th meeting. Cowboys lead series 56-36-2 but lost both playoff matchups. The Redskins crushed the defending champion Cowboys 26-3 in the 1972 NFC Championship Game at RFK Stadium behind two TD passes from QB Billy Kilmer to WR Charley Taylor to clinch their first Super Bowl trip.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins have struggled to run against the Cowboys' 3-4 defense in recent years, but in their new West Coast offense they will attempt to complement the ground game with short passes to help move the chains. QB Jason Campbell will likely use a lot of short drops and quick releases to thwart the pass rush, but will also take a few shots to Moss against Dallas' shaky deep coverage.

WR Terrell Owens caught just two passes and the Cowboys still racked up 453 total yards against Green Bay last weekend. Dallas has more weapons than most healthy teams can cope with, and the Redskins will be without top pass-rusher DE Jason Taylor. However, Taylor's absence should improve the run defense a bit, and if the Redskins can contain RBs Marion Barber and Felix Jones and create long passing downs, they might be able to pressure QB Tony Romo into mistakes.

KEY INJURIES: Redskins: RT Stephon Heyer (shoulder) will be replaced by Jon Jansen if he can't play; Taylor (calf) will be replaced by Demetric Evans. Cowboys: LG Kyle Kosier (foot) is out 2-3 weeks; SS Roy Williams (forearm) will miss at least one more game.

FAST FACTS: The Redskins will make their final regular-season visit to Texas Stadium, where they are 9-27. ... Romo's 22-7 record is the third-best in league history for a quarterback's first 29 career starts.

COWBOYS NOTES: Owner Jerry Jones said this week not to worry about his high-flying Cowboys going undefeated this year because it ain't happening.

At 3-0, the Cowboys are considered the best team in the NFC. But Jones said they are not going to duplicate the Patriots of last season.

He said the schedule is too tough, especially with the Cowboys playing in the NFC East, the league's best division.

"I don't see that," Jones said. "I really don't see that. I think that was almost impossible to make it through 16 games.

"I see the road is too rough. The East is too tough. We've got five more games in the East and then we got Pittsburgh on road. I don't see that. That is nothing I won't say dare to think about. But I just don't see that happening."

Jones doesn't deny things have come together nicely for the Cowboys.

He lauds the play of veteran newcomers like Zach Thomas and Adam Jones to go along with the return of 13 Pro Bowlers from last year's 13-3 team. He also says the team has been boosted by the best rookie impact class he has seen since buying the Cowboys in 1989.

"We are getting maybe the best rookie contribution right off the bat that we've had," Jones said. "That is not average for us. When you figure the rookie class contributing like it is then it's really coming together."

DALLAS PERSONNEL NOTES: NT Tank Johnson didn't practice on Thursday because of a sprained ankle. If he practices on Friday, he will play against the Redskins. If not, it will be a game-time decision.

The Cowboys gave DE Marcus Spears reps at NT just in case.

* OG Montrae Holland continued to get first-team reps at left guard and will share time with Cory Procter against the Redskins in place of the injured Kyle Kosier.

* LB Anthony Spencer practiced for the second straight day without incident. Coach Wade Phillips said he looks healthy again and ready to go for Sunday's game against the Redskins.

* LB Zach Thomas has been better than the Cowboys expected. He leads the team in tackles and could be headed for a return trip to the Pro Bowl.

"Zach Thomas we thought all along was a good football player, a real good football player," coach Wade Phillips said. "He has a nose for the football. He makes plays. We probably could play him more. I think the way to utilize him right now is to let him play on first and second downs and help us a lot there."

REDSKINS NOTES: The Redskins know they have a big task on their hands on Sunday -- trying to beat the unbeaten Cowboys in Texas Stadium, where Washington has left victorious just once in its last 11 visits.

However, the Redskins also know they scored 10 fourth-quarter points and had driven into Dallas territory trailing 28-23 when Terence Newman picked off Jason Campbell's pass to seal the verdict there last November. And they pounded the Cowboys, who admittedly had nothing to play for, in the season finale in Washington.

So there's no awe of the guys with the stars on the helmets even if they are the Super Bowl favorites. Not from a Washington team coming off two inspirational home victories over New Orleans and Arizona.

"We're confident, but we're not complacent," said center Casey Rabach. "The Cowboys have a lot of weapons on offense so we know we're going to have to put some points on the board."

The guys responsible for keeping the Cowboys from doing too much of that are confident too, after holding Reggie Bush, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin in check the past two weeks.

"Dallas is playing with great confidence and a little swagger," said defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin. "They're a very talented team. They have a lot of athletes, but we do as well."

Coach Jim Zorn, preparing for his first Redskins-Cowboys rivalry game, sees Dallas as a good measuring stick.

"They do what they want and they do it well," Zorn said. "We love to get the opportunity to play 'em to see where we're at."

REDSKINS PERSONNEL NOTES: DE Jason Taylor (calf) is out after undergoing emergency surgery on Monday.

* OT Stephon Heyer (shoulder) didn't practice on Wednesday and, according to coach Jim Zorn, won't start if he can't practice on Thursday.

* FB Mike Sellers (thigh) didn't practice on Wednesday.

* WR Malcolm Kelly (ankle), who has yet to make his NFL debut, only did individual drills on Wednesday.

* CB Fred Smoot (hip) was limited on Wednesday but is expected to play.

PREDICTION: Cowboys 33-21


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