Tonight’s Monday Night game is Washington-Dallas, and the Redskins’ visit to Big D now looms considerably larger in light of what happened yesterday. Philadelphia, the top-heavy favorite to win the NFC East lost both a home game to the Giants, and quarterback Michael Vick to a broken wrist. The door is open for everyone else to step up and win this division and tonight’s game will be a big part of that.
The Redskins are off to a 2-0 start, but this is their first road test. They’ve been able to get wide receiver Jabar Gaffney involved in the offense and given Santana Moss some real help in spreading out defenses. Against a vulnerable Cowboy secondary it will be necessary for Gaffney, Moss and tight end Chris Cooley to be consistent parts of the passing game and ‘the Skins need to take some shots down the field. The problem with that idea is named Demarcus Ware. The Cowboy outside linebacker will be in quarterback Rex Grossman’s face throughout the night unless he can either be blocked or neutralized. The best chance to contain Ware is to keep him at home, and in that regard I believe the Washington interior running game, led by Tim Hightower ultimately holds the key to who wins tonight. If Hightower can run inside, linebackers have to stay at home to prevent a cutback and a big play. If he can’t, coordinator Rob Ryan gets a lot of leeway, and leeway with a Ryan is code word for “blitz all night long.”
Dallas’ passing game is dealing with some major injuries. There’s the much-publicized injury to Tony Romo’s ribs. It looks like he’ll play, but even if he doesn’t, Jon Kitna’s a reliable backup and in fact the Cowboys beat the Redskins in a 33-30 shootout last year where Kitna was at the helm. Another publicized injury is to receiver Miles Austin, who won’t play with a hamstring problem, and another receiver, Dez Bryant isn’t healthy. Finally we come to the running game where Felix Jones’ shoulder is banged up and even at full health, he’s done nothing for the first two games. All of this makes it tough for coach and offensive guru Jason Garrett to exploit the Redskins’ secondary, which has injury problems of its own, including the fact safety LaRon Landry is still out.
I’m a Redskins fan, so I’m going to forego making a pick on this game. My feelings as a fan right now are that I like the way the matchup looks, but have doubts the ‘Skins are ready to win a road game of this magnitude just yet.
Check back tonight for the Notebook’s college football report, as we look at what we learned in each conference on Saturday. For baseball, it will be the Manager of the Year post. These final three days of the regular season will be about awards before it’s time to preview the playoffs on Thursday, but there are still two wild-card berths up for grabs. Boston holds a one-game lead on Tampa in the American League, with the Red Sox in Baltimore and the Rays hosting New York. In the National League, Atlanta clings to a one-game cushion on St. Louis. The Braves go to Philadelphia, while the Cardinals visit Houston. In both cases, a tie would be settled with a one-game playoff on Thursday.
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