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Redskins-Cowboys preview: Can they keep it going?

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Redskins-Cowboys preview: Can they keep it going?

What: Redskins (4-6) vs. Cowboys (5-5)

Where: Cowboys Stadium; Arlington, Texas

When: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

TV: Fox WTTG-5

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet at 3 p.m. and after the game.

Fresh off a season-preserving win over the Eagles, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving seeking to move into a second place tie with the Cowboys in the NFC East.

“I hadn’t seen this team play as physical as they did this past Sunday,” Griffin said of the pivotal Philadelphia win. “It wasn’t perfect by any means, but there was a certain tenacity, a certain attitude that was brought to the game, and you could feel it.”

Griffin posted a perfect passer rating, tossing touchdowns to four different receivers and rushing for 84 yards – four more than the Eagles had combined. The Redskins did not turn the ball over for the third consecutive game and, in fact, only one of Griffin’s 15 passes fell incomplete.

“I threw it inside and [wide receiver Josh Morgan] was falling way to the sideline,” the standout rookie joked. “That’s all on me.”

Defensively, the Redskins were just as dominant, picking off rookie quarterback Nick Foles twice and sacking him four times. The 257 yards Washington yielded were the fewest by an opponent in 15 games.

The Redskins hope their inspired effort against the Eagles provided the spark that’s eluded them for much of the season.

The Cowboys, however, aren’t the Eagles. And, like the Redskins, they’re also coming off a season-saving triumph. 

Tony Romo rallied the Cowboys from a 13-0 deficit to beat the Browns, 23-20, in overtime Sunday.

Although Romo has seen his share of struggles this season – he has as many touchdown passes as interceptions (13) – the Cowboys are still flush with weapons. Wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin rank 14 and 15th in yards with 735 and 727 yards, respectively, while tight end Jason Witten has 636 yards receiving. Against Cleveland, Bryant hauled in a career best 12 receptions for 145 yards.

Pressuring Romo with blitzes and line stunts and preventing long pass completions will be the primary task for a Redskins’ defense that has suffered another devastating injury. Safety Brandon Meriweather was lost for the season to a knee injury, further depleting a unit that, until last week, has struggled in coverage and routinely yielded too many big plays.

Washington, however, could benefit from injuries to Dallas’s starting left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) and best running back DeMarco Murray (foot). Neither is expected to suit up.

The Cowboys’ defense, meantime, has been the team’s strength throughout this inconsistent season – even if it looked shaky at times against Brandon Weedon and the Browns.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware leads a unit that ranks seventh in yards allowed per game (318). Ware has 10 sacks, which ranks fourth in the league. 

While both teams are playing on short rest, the Cowboys didn’t have to travel and will have all the comforts of home. The Redskins, though, run an unorthodox offense that requires to time to prepare for – time Dallas Coach Jason Garrett wishes he had more of this week.

“You’d rather have more time than less, there’s no question about that, particularly when you’re facing [Griffin] and the scheme they’re using is a little bit different than you see every week,” Garrett said. “We just have to prepare as best we can as quickly as we can.” 

Here are three more storylines the crew at www.csnwashington.com will be following:

1--Will Fletcher suit up and extend his streak? The 37-year-old has played in 234 consecutive games, which is tied for the most among active players. But a sprained left ankle that Fletcher suffered against the Eagles is threatening his ironman status. 

Fletcher, who leads the Redskins with 84 tackles, said he doesn’t anticipate “testing” the ankle until pregame warm-up at Cowboys Stadium. He did not practice Monday or Tuesday.

“There is a reason why he has played all those games,” Coach Mike Shanahan said, “because he plays when he is hurt.” 

2--Will the Redskins be more disciplined? They crushed the a reeling Eagles’ team Sunday despite being flagged a season-high 13 penalties, including five false starts. That’s inexcusable and the mental miscues will eventually cost them a game – if it hasn’t already.

Washington leads the NFL in penalties per game at 8.8. Dallas, meantime, is a close second at 8.4.

“It’s something we have to get better at,” Coach Mike Shanahan said.

3--For the second week in a row, the Redskins can end a drought. Against the Eagles, they snapped an eight game losing streak against rookie quarterbacks and won their first game coming out of a bye week for the first time since 2007.

On Sunday, they can end a six game losing streak to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Redskins’ first loss to the Cowboys on turkey day was in 1968; the most recent was a 27-20 loss in 2002.

Washington's last win on Thanksgiving came in 1973, a 20-0 victory over the Lions.

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back