As the days turn into hours in the Washington Redskins' much-anticipated final regular-season game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins need their stars to shine, continue to execute on offense, control time of possession and win the turnover battle.
This winning combination has allowed the Redskins to ride a six-game winning streak into their Sunday night game where they not only control their own destiny, but can play the spoiler role against their arch-rival Cowboys, who stand as the primary threat to their first playoff appearance in seven years and their first NFC East division title since 1999.
With the following information, we will take a closer look at each facet of the Redskins' game and how they will ultimately determine their keys to winning against the Cowboys.
Building an Offense Around RGIII's Assets.
Undeniably, quarterback Robert Griffin III is the focal point of a multi-threat offense that are at times indefensible.
By combining the use of their star QB, rookie RB Alfred Morris (who leads the team in rushing), WR Pierre Garcon (who missed six games due to an injury but has played in eight of nine wins) and LB London Fletcher (who leads the team in tackles and interceptions), the 'Skins need their stars to have standout performances against the Cowboys.
The 'Skins have a multitude of options on offense that keeps defenses guessing.
Opponents not only have to prepare for a possible throwing situation to four 500-plus yard receivers (Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan), but a running back who is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (Alfred Morris).
Defenses also have to ask themselves: Will RG3 run or won't he? Despite a knee injury that limited his mobility in their win last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Griffin leads all quarterbacks with 752 yards on the ground.
The Redskins triple-threat, pistol-style offense is explosive as it is productive as they lead the NFL in overall yards per play (6.2 yards), yards rushing per game (162) and passing yards per play (7.9).
Entering Week 17, RG3 is poised to break several NFL rookie records, including the highest completion percentage and highest passer rating.
In their nine wins of 2012, the 'Skins have scored 24-plus points in all but one game.
Time of possession keeps your defense off of the field.
With a defense that ranks near the bottom in several NFL categories, including total yards allowed and passing yards, the Redskins offense builds momentum as the game progresses. They rank near the bottom in time of possession in the first half, yet they are ranked sixth in scoring in the first 30 minutes.
In the second half, the 'Skins lead the NFL in time of possession and rank seventh in points. By keeping their offense on the field, their defense can't give up any points.
With a combination of a solid running game and short passes, the 'Skins have shown great success in their nine wins.
They've also been able to turn the game over to kicker Kai Forbath, who hasn't missed on the season.
The Redskins rank second in the NFC and fourth overall in total points. With points and time of possession to their advantage, it surprises me they have won just nine games.
Turnover margin has been stellar.
The Redskins enter Week 17 with many records on the line. This pertains not only to their takeaways, but their giveaways as well.
Quarterback RG3 is set to break two NFL rookie records against the Cowboys if they can continue to win the turnover battle. Not only can he break Dan Marino's 1983 rookie record for the best touchdown pass-interception differential, but Charlie Batch's 1998 record for lowest percentage of passes intercepted.
As a team, the 'Skins have the fewest turnovers in the NFL and are second to the Chicago Bears in the takeaway-giveaway ratio at plus-14. The Cowboys rank near the bottom of the NFC with a minus-10.
The 'Skins have scored 106 points as a direct result of takeaways this season.
With a combination of four key areas which all favor the Redskins over the Cowboys, these are just some of the statistical categories that give the team an advantage that could make a win more than just a reality on Sunday night.
Home-field advantage could never be a stronger component to their victory in Week 17 as the 'Skins fans have the largest capacity stadium in the NFL and a national televised audience as well. There are also a multitude of factors that haven't been considered in this article which are too numerous and cumbersome to name.
Should the Redskins do what has worked for the team during the current winning streak and avoid any injuries to their top-performers, postseason promises and football in January could certainly be on the horizon.
The Cowboys vs. Redskins game is Sunday, Dec. 30 at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.
Statistical information provided by teamrankings.com.
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