Redskins vs. Cowboys

Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs meet again. That's not good news for Redskins fans considering the Tuna owns an 11-6 mark against Gibbs, winning the last six times their teams met. And it doesn't help that Dallas has won 12 of the past 13 in this series, an incredible mark given the Cowboys mediocrity during this stretch.

What to expect offensively: Inconsistency on the ground. Dallas' speedy linebackers can take away the counter and some misdirection runs by the Redskins. But Washington should opt for a power game, running straight ahead in what could be sloppy weather. Ladell Betts could get a couple more carries if it turns strictly to a power game.

In the passing game, it helps that Mark Brunell can start. Maybe his arm is not strong, but he at least knows what to do against a blitz, which is why he won't be sacked as often as Patrick Ramsey. Brunell can hit the hot receiver. Look for Dallas to blitz often through the Redskins' left side. But look for Brunell to make the right read. These are the kinds of games where it helps to have a veteran quarterback in charge.

Key matchup: Right tackle Kenyatta Jones or Ray Brown vs. DE Greg Ellis. Whoever starts here must handle Ellis one on one at least part of the time. The Redskins can't keep giving all their help to one side, leaving the other vulnerable to blitzes. Another one pits DT La'Roi Glover against OG Derrick Dockery. Glover's quickness is troublesome.

What to expect defensively: Lots of different looks. Without LaVar Arrington some of the pressure packages will be shelved. But Dallas quarterback Vinny Testaverde has shown that he can be confused in the pocket. So pressure isn't the only way to rattle him. Besides, Dallas' offense has big-play wideouts in Antonio Bryant and Terry Glenn and a solid possession game with Keyshawn Johnson and Jason Witten. If the blitzes miss, Testaverde will make them pay.

Key matchups: DE Ron Warner vs. LT Flozell Adams. On paper, this is a mismatch in favor of Dallas and it could lead to problems against the run for Washington. Warner is making his first NFL start and is 73 pounds lighter than Adams.

Key players: Linebacker Marcus Washington must have a big game to compensate for Arrington's loss. Lemar Marshall can't be expected to do what Arrington does, but Washington can. Marshall has experience at strongside backer as well, so don't be surprised if Marcus Washington occasionally fills Arrington's role on the weakside.

Prediction: Washington 16, Dallas 13. One thing I like about the Redskins is that they seem resilient. They're not an elite team by any means, which means they'll probably hover around .500 all year. But when challenged, they seemed to respond well. And many teams would have folded last week in New York with seven turnovers. Until the end the Redskins believed they would win. And that's why they'll bounce back tonight. Besides, at some point their fortune against Dallas must change. Right?


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