Pondering 10 questions before Monday's NFC East matchup between the Redskins and Cowboys.

From dealing with Dez Bryant to sticking with run game to pondering what Jon Gruden might say, Peter Hailey asks the tough questions before Redskins-Cowboys.

There’s no such thing as a dumb question — that’s something every school teacherhas said at least 43 times in their lives, and that’s something we’re going to take to heart today ahead of the Redskins and Cowboys facing off on Monday Night Football. Here are 10 questions I’m asking before kickoff.

Can Bashaud Breeland lock down Dez Bryant on the big stage again?

Last time these two rivals met on MNF, the then-rookie Breeland took on one of the NFL’s most dynamic pass catchers and held him in check, both on a memorable goal line stand and at the end of the contest, to help his team to victory. Last week, Breeland went toe-to-toe with Odell Beckham Jr., who may or may not be a video game character, and at times locked him down, too. Can Breeland do it again against Bryant this time around? It’s certainly a matchup to watch. 

How many awesome things will Jon Gruden say?

Few people are more enthusiastic about their job than Jon Gruden. The man can talk about a four-yard pass to a fullback on a random second down and make it seem like the most pivotal moment in the history of the world. Throw in the fact that his brother will obviously be coaching the ‘Skins, and there’s a good chance ESPN’s Gruden has a terrific night with the microphone. 

Will Kirk Cousins keep killing it at home?

In past years, Redskins fans have joked about the differences between Good Kirk and Bad Kirk. In 2015, however, the two versions we’ve seen of the Washington quarterback have been closer to OK Kirk and Great Kirk, with the latter version coming when he plays at FedEx Field. Dallas gives up the seventh-fewest pass yards per game in the NFL, so Cousins will need to keep up his good work at home if the ‘Skins want to stay atop the division.

Which owner will be shown more?

Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones are two of football’s most recognizable owners, but which rich man will be shown perched in their box more during the broadcast? I’m predicting Jones pulls out the victory by a final score of 5-2. 

Does the offense stick with the ground game again?

Alfred Morris didn’t rack up the yards last week against New York, but he did rack up the carries (23 of them to be exact). The patience and reliance on the run game paid off, as it allowed the play action offense to work well (see DeSean Jackson’s touchdown for one example) and allowed Washington to chew up time of possession. It’s necessary they keep coming back to it versus the Cowboys even if it’s not clicking at first, because they’ve shown they’re at their best when sticking with a balanced approach.  

How much will I miss “The Cowboy Killer” Santana Moss while watching the action unfold on TV?

I already know the answer to this one: So, so much. 

How much will the defense rely on Quinton Dunbar, and how well will he play?

Funny how quickly things can change. Dunbar has gone from random practice squad member to hardly-used special-teamer to everyone’s favorite story in a matter of weeks. How will Dunbar play in his second full game at corner, how much responsibility will he be given, and how effective will he be considering his bone just freaking popped out of his finger eight days ago? All things I’m excited to see, because I think he has the size and speed to be something special. 

Which team is going to get screwed over by some blasphemous mistake by the refs?

Officiating has been awful both in college and pro football this year, and I expect something bad to happen to one of the two sides in this game to keep that trend alive. Actually, what am I saying? Something bad is going to happen to both sides. It’s just a matter of which thing proves to be less bad.

Will Perry Riley's absence matter a little, a lot, or not at all?

Riley will be down for the next month or so with a foot injury, and Mason Foster will replace him in the starting lineup until he comes back. Normally, I’d say his absence wouldn’t have much consequences, but #56 has played some really inspired ball as of late, so I’m starting to lean towards the second choice for now. Hopefully, Foster proves to be a solid replacement.

Why isn’t it kickoff yet?

Last Sunday’s toppling of the Giants made this Monday Nighter all the more vital. The fact that the Burgundy and Gold have a chance to give themselves a full game lead in the division with four weeks left is huge, and doing it against the ‘Boys would make it all the more better. But can the Redskins, a franchise known for stealing away all hope the second you think they’ve turned the corner, take care of business when they’re expected to? We’re about to find out, and not a moment too soon.


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