Quick Links

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!

Quick Links

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

The Redskins moved the ball well against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but continued red zone woes again sent Washington home with a loss. While the late November schedule proved brutal for the 'Skins, playing two games in five days, now the Redskins come to Arizona for an early December game with fresh legs and ample rest. Played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, weather will not be a factor for the 4 p.m. EST kick, but all the action starts on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at 3 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Keep it moving - Kirk Cousins showed he likes to get hot in the second half of the season during 2015. The quarterback's play late last year won the 'Skins the NFC East, and while a division title is out of reach with the Cowboys already at 11 wins, Cousins again looks to be on a heater. In three games since the bye, Cousins has thrown for more than 1,000 yards to go with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 1 story for the 'Skins is Cousins, and if he keeps his hot streak going, Washington should find itself in position to win in Arizona.
  2. Missing in action - This will be the final game of a four-game suspension for left tackle Trent Williams, and the Washington offensive line has performed admirably in his absence. Arguably more important this week will be the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in Dallas. What's wild about Reed - he came back to play in the second half against the Cowboys - and score two touchdowns - while playing with a separated shoulder. Reed did not practice this week, and Jay Gruden said his range of motion in the shoulder is just too limited to go against the Cardinals. 
  3. Consider the source - The Redskins offense might be the most potent group in this game, but Washington would be foolish to sleep on the Cardinals. Arizona was widely considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, and though they are in the midst of a disappointing year at 4-6-1, a win against the Skins could get the Cards back on the playoff track. Arizona running back David Johnson is the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL with 921 yards on the ground, not to mention an additional 613 yards receiving. Gruden on Johnson, "He is probably the best all-around back there is in the National Football League right now as far as being able to move outside, be a great route runner but also run between the tackles and run outside with his speed. So it’s going to be a matchup problem." Defensively, the Redskins ranks 25th in the NFL at stopping the run. Watch out for David Johnson.
  4. Problems don't just go away - Look at just about any metric on the Redskins offense, and the results are impressive: No. 2 in yards-per-game, No. 2 in yards-per-play, No. 2 in pass yards-per-game. But for all the yards, the 'Skins don't score at a corresponding clip as they rank 9th in the NFL in points. The culprit? Red zone troubles. "There are so many good things we’re doing on offense to put a damper on what they’re doing offensively with the red zone. It’s hard to do, but it’s something that is a glaring weakness of this football team right now," Gruden said of his team. The best road to wins for the Redskins is by scoring, ideally at least 30 points, and that will require some success inside the 20s.
  5. The harder they fall - If the Arizona offense has an Achilles heel, it's their offensive line. Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times in the Cards last four games, and the 'Skins need to focus on bringing Palmer down. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy - who will be playing in his hometown - have been the leaders at getting sacks for Joe Barry's defense, and Preston Smith could be in line for another big game. Getting to Carson Palmer should be among the defense's top priorities, as that can slow Larry Fitzgerald and the Cards pass game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • DeSean Jackson's 67-yard reception in Dallas was a season long and his longest since a 77-yard touchdown vs. Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2015 season.
  • Kirk Cousins' 3,540 passing yards in 2016 now rank 10th-most in a single season in team history, and he still has five games left to play.
  • The Redskins offense ranks first in the NFL in percentage of fewest 3-and-out drives at 9.5 percent.
  • If Pierre Garçon can gain 137 receiving yards on Sunday, he will pass Michael Westbrook for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history.
  • With nine sacks, Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from becoming the fifth member of the Redskins (Dexter Manley, 4; Charles Mann, 4; Andre Carter, 2; Brian Orakpo, 2) to post multiple 10-sack seasons since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.

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!

Quick Links

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances