Yesterday, we took our first look at the Dallas", Redskins' Fans Gear Up For The Cowboys">Redskins-Cowboys matchup. We noted that, despite the fact that this rivalry has long been dominated by the Cowboys (holding a 56-32-2 advantage), the Redskins hold the edge concerning the two teams' current rosters, winning four of the last six meetings.
In 2005, the Redskins obtained their first season sweep of the Cowboys since the '95 season, and the second meeting served to launch the Redskins into the playoffs, and knock the Cowboys out of the running for the postseason.
We also noted that these teams boast two of the league's 10 highest-rated quarterbacks in the Cowboys' Tony Romo and the Redskins' Jason Campbell, and two of the league's top 10 running backs in the Cowboys' Marion Barber and the Reskins' Clinton Portis.
Neither team has been able to run the ball particularly well over the last three years, and this statistic could easily come into play again on Sunday. Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has become known as a bit of a risk-taker as a play-caller, putting to use the passing skills of Romo and taking advantage of the talents of star wide receiver Terrell Owens and perhaps the best tight end in the game, Jason Witten.
A former quarterback, Garrett has been more balanced this year. Last season, the Cowboys threw the ball nearly 60 percent of the time. Through three games this season, the Cowboys are almost exactly at 50 percent, with 90 rushing plays to 93 passing plays. This fact will affect the way defenses play the Cowboys, and the Redskins will likely be no different.
The Redskins rookie head coach and primary play-caller, Jim Zorn, has also been quite balanced in his play-calling. Right at 50 percent pass, Zorn has shown dramatic improvement in his game-management skills since opening night, when he simply didn't seem to have a solid grasp of working with the flow of a regular season game.
The Cowboys' offense is currently No. 1 in total yards per game, and third in points scored per game. The Redskins are ranked 15th and 20th in in those categories, respectively.
Both teams also have receivers in the top 10 in receptions, total yards, yards per game (Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss and Witten), and receiving touchdowns (Owens and Moss).
Both teams also boast two of the game's best tight ends, Witten and the Redskins' Chris Cooley. These two make defenses play the entire field. Both are solid blockers, excellent route-runners, and have great hands. These two create matchup problems for opponents, and defensive answers seem to be hard to come by. Each player is in the league's top 10, but neither has seen the end zone this season.
Both teams boast solid offensive lines, as well. Both teams are in the league's top five in fewest sacks allowed, and top 12 in yards per rush. Simple statistics that speak to solid play along the offensive line.
Tomorrow, I'll take a look at the defenses each team brings into this game, and at the matchups each team may try to exploit.
The final installment in this closer look is "Redskins-Cowboys: Last Dance at Texas Stadium?"