The Ten Spot: Skins Frustrated, Not Defeated

The Ten Spot--The chemistry is still good and the defense is getting healthy. Can that add up to an upset over Dallas?

1. What is the Redskins' mindset entering the game? Actually, not bad. One thing to know about this team: they are frustrated, but they are not defeated. When you're in the locker room, it does not feel like they're 2-5. Last year's team had excellent chemistry and this year's group falls a little short of that one. But chemistry is not the problem whatsoever. The Redskins are filled with solid, hard-working players so the mix is good. Which is why the locker room remains a good place. And it's why the mindset is also not the issue.

2. How will Moss' absence impact the Redskins? Greatly. He's Mark Brunell's favorite target and is one of two legit playmakers on offense, with Clinton Portis being the other. We'd suggest in his absence the Redskins go to more traditional Joe Gibbs sets. That's the strength of the team. Brandon Lloyd will get more opportunities as will James Thrash, with David Patten also nursing a sore hamstring.

3. Is this the game Lloyd breaks out? It would make sense, but it just seems that Brunell does not either trust Lloyd or simply ignores him. He can't do that this weekend with Moss out. And remember Lloyd had a huge game against Dallas last year (four catches, 142 yards). But Lloyd is not as physical as Moss on the underneath routes, or going across the middle. That will limit what he can do against the Cowboys.

4. Will the healthy defenders make a difference? Absolutely. How can they not? Shawn Springs is in for Kenny Wright? Come on. Cornelius Griffin for Kedric Golston? Please. These are semi-impact players so it stands to reason Washington will benefit greatly. The Redskins haven't had their starting defense all season. And, by the way, Gregg Williams seems a little humbled by what's happened this year. Even he seems to acknowledge that he's smarter when he has his full contingent of players.

5. What area will be helped most by their return? Obviously, everything. The pass defense will improve and the run defense will get better. But what is also nice is that other players can be used the way they were intended. Safety Adam Archuleta, for instance. Both he and Sean Taylor have spent too much time in coverage, something they're not good at. Maybe Archuleta can start blitzing more, which he is supposed to be good at. Kenny Wright can cover lesser receivers, too. That means Williams can be trickier with his schemes.

6. Is Tony Romo a Hall of Famer? You would think so after this past week. Romo appears to be a fine quarterback, but really how do we know? He started one game and played half of a second. That's it. Clearly he's made a difference, giving the 'Boys a jolt of energy. He's better at sticking to the offensive script and he's more mobile. The Redskins have to be careful with him. But he's still Tony Romo, which means he's unproven -- even if he did beat Carolina on the road in his first start.

7. What matchups should we pay attention to offensively? How about right in the middle, with center Casey Rabach against nose tackle Jason Ferguson.The Redskins must be able to run the ball, but they won't have much success if Rabach can't at least neutralize Ferguson. Washington can't rely on outside runs, at least not the toss sweep. Dallas' linebackers are too quick for that tactic. The tackles must be able to handle ends Greg Ellis and Chris Canty. But slowing Ferguson is a must.

8. What matchups should we pay attention to defensively? Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers against Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens. Glenn has killed the Redskins. Springs has the size and strength to match up well with Owens. Also, Sean Taylor against tight end Jason Witten. Taylor alone won't be responsible for him so the linebackers also must have a good game.

9. Will we see Jason Campbell? If we do it's been the best kept secret in a building where secrets don't always last. Yes, Campbell took snaps with the first unit during the bye; so did Todd Collins. So the only way Campbell gets in is because of injuries. But his time is coming.

10. Will the Redskins win? I refuse to believe Tony Romo can win two road games in his first two starts. I think the healthy defense will play its best game of the season. Dallas has lots of offensive firepower and has yet to be held under 17 points. But I think the Redskins have a big game or two left in them; this will be one of them. If they can't win at home coming off a bye, then they should pack it in now. Their playoff chances won't end Sunday. Redskins 20, Cowboys 17

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