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Five Keys to A Washington Redskins Win Over The Dallas Cowboys

Philip SpeakeCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2010

Five Keys to A Washington Redskins Win Over The Dallas Cowboys

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    This long anticipated matchup is almost here and one thing we know for sure is that this game will have all the players, coaches and fans psyched up to ridiculous levels.

    Will the Cowboys stretch their winning streak to four in a row over Washington? Or will the Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb era begin with a resounding victory?

    The stadium will surely be rocking, (parking lot opens at noon) despite the infiltration of thousands of Dallas fans. Redskins nation was emotionally crushed by the events of last season, but we have a new fling now and it seems like we could not be happier.

    How fast things may change in the coming days and weeks depends on Sunday night’s outcome. The early portion of Washington's schedule is tough so getting off to a good start is imperative. Here are the five keys to a Redskin victory.

5. Reed Doughty and Chris Horton

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    During the early stages of training camp, Washington’s only true free safety, Kareem Moore, was drawing rave reviews from teammates, coaches, and the media. He had done enough in the offseason to make himself the starter for opening night, but then he came down with a knee injury in the preseason, enter Doughty and Horton.

    Doughty is a great tackler, but his coverage in the deep third is suspect at times. He lacks great speed and has been toasted by Dallas before. Horton is a similar player to Doughty, great in the run game. He came on strong as a rookie but has since regressed to a backup role.

    Both players are natural strong safeties, so they are up for a big challenge against Romo and Co. If they can hold the back half of the field down and contain Austin, Bryant, and Witten the Skins should be in great shape. It just feels likes a big if with Doughty penciled in as the Week 1 starter.

4. Trent Williams Vs. DeMarcus Ware

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    No big deal son, first NFL game, national spotlight, your quarterback is hobbled with a sprained ankle. I hope your ready, by the way your going to be blocking DeMarcus Ware, I’m sure you have heard of him.

    Either way it has to be better than Levi Jones or Stephon Heyer lining up at left tackle.  All indications are the Redskins made the right choice taking Williams over Russell Okung with their first round draft pick, but they still have to play the games.  

    Keeping Ware off of McNabb is imperative. The entire offensive line will have their hands full for this game. Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, and Marcus Spears will all be doing their best to knock out McNabb. But the biggest test comes for Williams, he can set the tone early if he holds Ware without a sack for most of the game.

    This will be the first in a long line of battles between these two. Hopefully Chris Samuels has been able to get this kid up to NFC East game speed because it surely is not the Big 12.

3. Containing Dez Bryant and Felix Jones

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    These two players scare me more than anyone else on the Dallas offense. The hype surrounding Bryant is either really ridiculous or justified, we will soon find out. I had a nightmare he became the next Randy Moss, I doubt it will happen but worse things have happened in the past.

    Anyways, containing Bryant and Felix Jones is vital to a Redskin win. Jones is capable of breaking a long run any moment and a big play or two will kill the Redskins. The new 3-4 defense should be extremely effective in creating turnovers, and helping Washington win games but this early in the season mix ups in coverage, and blown assignments would not surprise me.

    Witten will get his, and Austin is very good but Bryant and Jones in my opinion are the playmakers that will break the backs of defenses this season.

2. Donovan McNabb

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    This one is pretty obvious. New offense after 11 seasons in Philadelphia, same old type of underwhelming receiving core he has played with his whole career. Last season McNabb struggled mightily against Dallas defense.

    In three meetings, all losses he averaged a 53 percent completion rate and 226 yards. Also he only threw only two touchdowns to go along with three interceptions and two lost fumbles, not exactly inspiring performances.

    McNabb HAS to have a big time game if Washington wants to win. If he does not, he will feel like he was back in Philly because the FedEx crowd will boo him long and hard. They are going to be drunk and into this game more than any from the last two seasons. The fans have been waiting for a real quarterback and a real play caller. If McNabb lays an egg against Dallas like he did three times last year, say goodnight for the Skins.

1. Clinton Portis

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    This man is the key to the Redskins season. He still has swagger, and moves, and some speed left over from his six 1,200 yard seasons. He struggled last year, behind an embarrassing offensive line and offensive coaching staff. Under Shanahan in Denver he averaged 5.5 yards a carry. Expecting those numbers would be like expecting to see Marissa Miller as the neighborhood pool lifeguard, it ain't happening.

    But Portis can still thrive in this offense; he has dedicated himself to the team philosophy and kept his name out of the public eye. Portis usually plays best with a chip on his shoulder and I think he will have a 1,000 yard season in 2010.  He has played well against Dallas throughout his career. His play is usually indicative of the Redskins winning or losing. When he gets 100 yards the Skins are hard to beat. The defense usually shows up, and Portis is looking to make a statement in 2010.

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