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Redskins vs. Cowboys Bold Predictions

Redskins vs. Cowboys Bold Predictions

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins.

This game is a pivotal moment for the Washington Redskins, for two reasons.

First, the Redskins need to continue to win against the mass of mediocrity in the NFL and the Cowboys are firmly in that group. A team can do quite well winning the games it should win and Washington needs to establish itself as one that does that with regularity.

The second reason revolves around the numbers .176 and .071. Those represent the Redskins winning percentage in the division in the last three years and against the Cowboys in their last 14 meetings. Certainly, the latter is a major factor in the former. The Redskins have to prove that they can beat the Cowboys if they are to become the team that they and their fans expect them to be. If you start off your season by penciling in two losses to a division rival, especially one that often is on or below your level, you’re in a serious hole.

This one seems simple. Both teams are 5-9 but seem to headed in very different directions. The Redskins are dead set on finishing their season on a high note. They have a lot of the pieces for 2005 in place already and want to build some momentum and energy for next year. Their playoff hopes are slim, but that is keeping them motivated as well.

Dallas has even longer odds of making the postseason and they aren’t using that as any kind of motivation. They don’t quite know who among them will be around for 2005 as many positions, especially quarterback, are in various states between flux and turmoil. Bill Parcells have spent the virtually the whole season telling his team how dumb they are and how poorly they are playing. It appears that they are beginning to believe him.

In the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, columnist Randy Galloway sums up the differences between the two teams quite nicely:

The Gibbs bashing will come to a sudden end next season.

While both he and Parcells share blame at the moment for their teams' miserable years, the NFL of today is all about sudden turnarounds.

Depending on Ramsey, the Redskins have the people in place to totally flip things next season.

This can be a good team in '05. Real good.

And Gibbs is now giving his young quarterback the learning room.

Of course, that optimism for the future is the fork in the road when it comes to the current plight of Gibbs and Parcells.

What exactly is the Cowboys' future?

What about the defense? What about the quarterback?

The best guess six months ago was that Parcells was loading up for '05, and using this season to identify his key pieces and needs.

If that was actually the case, we now know the needs far outweigh the pieces.

Both stellar coaches today at Texas Stadium have a 5-9 record.

But there's a difference; a big difference.

So, it’s an easy Redskins win, right? Not so fast. Among those 13 losses in the last 14 games were quite a few where Washington seemed to have the upper hand. In 1999, the Redskins took the NFC East title despite two losses to an 8-8 Dallas team. In 2001, the Redskins were streaking, having won their last five and the Cowboys were reeling. At FedEx Field, it was Dallas 20, Washington 14. I’m sure it’s not necessary to go through the whole litany, you get the idea.

It’s just very difficult to get a feeling for one of these games because things rarely unfold as think they will, or even as it appears they will as the game progresses. That goes back to Clint Longley and ’79 in Texas Stadium. But here’s a stab at it.

  • One of the pieces of the puzzle that the Cowboys know will be in place next year is rookie running back Julius Jones, who has been impressive after returning from a shoulder injury four games ago. He had three straight 100-yard performances before being held to 80 against the Eagles last week. Look for him to get about half that against the Redskins defense, the best in the NFC against the run.
  • The last time the two teams met, Vinny Testaverde was a hot quarterback. Now he’s contemplating retirement. He passed for 214 yards in the first meeting this year. To give you an indication as to how unimpressive a performance that was, Mark Brunell passed for 111 yards more than that. Still, he was the winning quarterback that Monday night and he is always dangerous. He’ll get his couple of hundred passing but I think he’ll face a bit more pressure and will take a couple of sacks and throw an interception or two.
  • Patrick Ramsey will continue to progress as he looks to being the unquestioned starter from the first minicamp of 2005. Pencil him in for an efficient but not spectacular performance, say a QB rating of 95.
  • Clinton Portis needs 217 yards to become the first NFL player ever to rush for 1,500 yards or more in each of his first three seasons and 148 to become the team’s single-season record holder for rushing yards in a season. He’ll get about halfway to the first record and will be on the doorstep on the second one when this game is over.

As has been the case all year, the defense will take care of business. The offense will get enough done to win:

Redskins 24, Cowboys 14

Yes, I know I said earlier this year that I wouldn’t pick the Redskins to beat the Cowboys until they actually did it. But that was my own rule and I’m entitled to break it!

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN 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!