Redskins vs. Cowboys: Five Keys to Week 3's Monday Night Game

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Redskins vs. Cowboys: Five Keys to Week 3's Monday Night Game
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The 2-0 Redskins will square off against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football

It's easy to forget that the rivalry between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys was once considered the fiercest in professional football. 

Animosity between the franchises was kindled when former Redskins owner George Preston Marshall voted against NFL expansion in Dallas, and it has continued on the field ever since. Washington and Dallas are two of the NFL's richest franchises, but that's their only similarity.

The best Cowboys teams featured star quarterbacks and elite skill players, while the Redskins dynasty of the '80s and early '90s relied on a dominant offensive line and superior play calling. Even the cities—Dallas represents the freewheeling, untamed spirit of Texas while Washington is known as a haven of bureaucracy and deliberation—stand in stark contrast to each other.

It’s not surprising that in 2008, Sports Illustrated named Redskins-Cowboys the greatest NFL rivalry of all time.

Over the last decade the rivalry has lost some of its luster, as both teams have consistently failed to live up to expectations. Neither team has reached the NFC championship since 1996. As a result, fans and pundits outside of Washington and Dallas have written off this once highly anticipated biannual contest as one of little consequence.

It is somewhat ironic that as the rivalry's reputation has declined, the on-the-field drama has risen.

The past decade has produced some of the tensest games ever played between the two teams. From the Redskins Monday Night Miracle in Week 2 of the 2005 season to the classic battle in Week 9 of 2006, when a Dallas penalty combined with an obscure NFL rule allowed to Redskins to kick a game-winning field goal with no time left on the clock, the twists and turns have never been more dramatic than in recent years.

This Monday night the rivalry resumes in Dallas, where the Redskins will look to build upon their first 2-0 start since 2007, and the Cowboys will try to earn their first winning record of the season. The Cowboys are technically favored by less than a touchdown, but smart fans know that that it's too early to know which team is better.

Here are five things that will help determine the outcome of Monday night's game.

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