The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys will meet for an NFC East matchup on Sunday. The Week 6 game pits two losing teams against one another, and yet, the game has significant divisional relevance. That's due to the fact that every team in said division is performing poorly this season.
Dallas is 2-3 and in first place in the division, alongside the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington just recorded their first win of the season and are 1-3 thanks to a bye week. The New York Giants are 0-5 and show no signs of recovering. So this matchup could very well be a determining factor in the division late in the season.
Let's take a look at both teams below, starting with the home team:
Meet the Cowboys
Dallas was almost 3-2. Almost. They went toe-to-toe with the undefeated Denver Broncos, with quarterback Tony Romo competing with Peyton Manning on every throw. But in the end, the Cowboys couldn't win the shootout, losing 51-48 and dropping to 2-3.
Morale might be high heading into this one. They have to feel at least partially good that they were able to put up those kind of numbers against the team many consider to be the best in the NFL. Or perhaps they are extremely pessimistic about being unable to win after doing so much. Who knows?
What we do know is that Dallas has a great pass offense, a stellar run defense, an average running game and a below-average pass defense. Many of these things are similar to what the Redskins have going for them, but Romo has clearly looked better than Robert Griffin III this season, and that could be the difference-maker.
Meet the Redskins
Washington may be 1-3 but they did face a couple tough matchups, to be fair. There was no excuse for them going out and looking completely inept against the Eagles in Week 1, but losses to the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in the following weeks were understandable.
Still, having the Oakland Raiders be your lone win doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. The Redskins need Griffin to step up and take control of a game, and they've had an extra week to get him prepared to do so this week, thanks to their bye. Washington has some very tough matches on the horizon, with the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers in their future.
In other words, if they hope to compete in the NFC East, a division many thought they'd run away with this season, they need to win this one.
Local Takes: Cowboys
Blogging the Boys sees wideout Pierre Garçon as the Redskins' primary offensive weapon, and worries that the Cowboys defense may struggle to shut him down:
Garcon is a receiver who likes to work the middle of the field, prowling the area between the linebackers and safeties. A tough match up under any circumstances due to his physical style of play, against Dallas the veteran pass catcher will also find himself in a position to exploit a group of players who are struggling to adapt to their coverage responsibilities in Monte Kiffin's scheme. Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is well aware of the bond between Griffin and his most reliable target and he does an excellent job of scheming to get the ball in Garcon's hands.
Local Takes: Redskins
On the other side, Mike Harar at Hogs Haven believes stopping Dez Bryant will be a key to a Skins' victory:
The Cowboys really have no other steady threat at wide receiver. Even though Miles Austin practiced for the first time in two weeks this Wednesday, he has battled with a hamstring injury most of the year and rookie Terrence Williams is still inconsistent. In Week 17 last year, DeAngelo Hall did a fantastic job covering and limiting an injured Bryant. This week, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett would not say which corner will be responsible for him, but whoever it is will have their hands full, as Bryant has the speed and strength to take one to the house at any time. Staying in front of him and limiting his yards after the catch will be crucial.
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Washington Preps For Showdown With Romo http://t.co/XKoyigYI14— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 9, 2013
All five of SB Nation's NFL experts picked the Cowboys to take down the Redskins. You can find the rest of the Week 6 picks here.
The Cowboys opened as 4-point favorites, but the line has moved in their favor throughout the week, according to OddsShark. They could be had for as high as 6-point favorites on some major sites.
Dallas will hit the road to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 20. The Redskins will return home to host the Chicago Bears on the same day.