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An impossible task for the Redskins next Sunday?

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An impossible task for the Redskins next Sunday?

Do the Redskins face an impossible task on Sunday when they go to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Sunday night?

If you are one of many Redskins fans that settled in on Sunday afternoon to watch the Cowboys take on the Broncos you might think so. Although Dallas ultimately lost to Peyton Manning and company they put on quite an offensive show in the process. Tony Romo completed almost 70 percent of his passes and gained just over 14 yards per pass attempt. He set a Cowboys record with 506 yards passing and he threw for five touchdowns.

Yes, Romo did throw an interception that ultimately led to a game-winning field goal with no time left. But they were only in that position because the Dallas defense couldn’t stop Manning, who had quite a game himself (414 yards, 4 TD’s).

Now the Redskins come into Big D and they are decidedly not the ’13 Broncos. They aren’t even the 2012 Redskins through their first four games. With Robert Griffin III still working to get back to form after his knee injury their offense isn’t what it was. If you take away 21 points scored by the defense Washington has just 10 first-half points all year. That won’t cut it against the Cowboys if they play like they did on Sunday. They put up 20 in the first half yesterday and 48 for the game.

They key question is, will they play against the Redskins like they played yesterday? That is one of a few factors that should give Redskins fans some hope and reason to watch on Sunday.

—Which Cowboys offense will show up? Eight days ago against the Chargers they did not resemble the fearsome juggernaut they were against Denver. Dallas scored 14 points in the first 17 minutes of play and then they were shut out the rest of the way. They lost 30-21, getting a TD on an interception return by linebacker Sean Lee. The San Diego defense, by the way, is not very good. They were ranked 27th in the NFL prior to their late-night loss to the Raiders.

—Since Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett came to town, the Redskins have had pretty solid success against Romo. In five games against the Romo-led Cowboys (he missed one 2010 meeting with an injury) the Redskins have allowed over 20 points just twice. One of those came last Thanksgiving when the Redskins played soft in the second half to protect a 28-3 halftime lead. Since 2010 with Romo playing, the Cowboys have averaged 20 points per game against the Redskins and almost 25 per game in all of their other contests. Washington is 3-2 vs. Romo in that time.

—Regardless of how well the defense manages to contain Romo, Dez Bryant, and company, the offense is going to have to do better if the Redskins are going stay in the game. The good news is that the Washington offense has shown signs of life against the Lions and Raiders and the Dallas defense, Peyton Manning not, looked pretty bad. Griffin is not all the way back to his 2012 form but he’s getting better each week. They won’t be able to put up 51 points like the Broncos did but if they can avoid killer mistakes they could score enough to keep the pressure on the Cowboys.

The Redskins will be underdogs in this game and I’m not sure if I’m going to pick them to win. But to look at this game like it’s some sort of impossible task is off base if you look at the big picture, beyond what has transpired in the past 24 hours.

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Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.

The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.

Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.

His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.

The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.

The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.

Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

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