Free NFL Pick: Washington at Dallas 12-19-2010

December 18, 2010

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Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

Sunday December 19th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Dallas -7

Overview:

The Dallas Cowboys are a new football team with Jason Garrett at the helm. They have won three games and lost two games by a field goal since Garrett took over. The Cowboys were projected by many to go to the Super Bowl and are now eying a top ten draft pick. Even so, it is nothing short of remarkable what the Cowboys have been able to do without Tony Romo and an interim head coach.

The Redskins look like they are in complete disarray. There are rift story lines everywhere, wins are not piling up, the playoffs have slipped away, and credibility is hemorrhaging from the organization. After starting with a promising 3-2 record, they have collapsed to 5-8. While they have one more win than the Cowboys do, they do not have the momentum the Cowboys do coming into this game.

Keys to the Game:

  • Donovan McNabb has probably played his last snap as a Redskin. After a confusing rift between McNabb and Shanahan, the plug was pulled on McNabb going into Dallas. McNabb has struggled this season, but was given an incentive laden mosnter contract, which he will probably only see 3.75 million dollars of. It appears that Shanahan probably wants to see what he has in quarterback Rex Grossman before next season.
  • This is Felix Jones’ chance to have another huge game. With Marion Barber out, the team has been giving him the majority of carries. Tashard Choice has cemented himself comfortably in a back up role. Given the miserable tackling of the Redskins this season and Jones’ ability to make people miss in space, Jones could shred the Washington run defense. They allow 134 yards a game on the ground and Jones should be seeing a huge majority of the yards the Cowboys accumulate on the ground.
  • Ryan Torain is having one of the best stretches of any backs in the NFL. In his last four outings, he has hit the 100 mark three times. Last week against Tampa Bay, the week he returned from injury, he accounted for 172 yards. His efforts were a huge reason why the Redskins were competitive. While the Bucs have a far worse run defense than the Cowboys, Torain seems to be the easiest way for the Redskins to excel against Dallas.
  • The Cowboys have a battered receiving corp. With Dez Bryant on the IR and Roy E. Williams listed as questionable, the Cowboys can’t expect Miles Austin to carry the entire workload. They need guys like Sam Hurd to step into the mix. Austin and the run game will obviously have an increased role, but who will be the X factor now that Bryant is gone?

Key Matchup:

DeMarcus Ware Vs. Rex Grossman

  • Bears fans know better than anyone, when Rex Grossman gets rattled, the wheels come off. The Cowboys happen to have one of the best edge rushers in the game in DeMarcus Ware. It is safe to say that the Cowboys are going to be aggressive with Ware. Donovan McNabb may be having an off season, but he certainly seems more capable than Grossman to handle the pressure Ware will inevitably present.
  • This is one of the biggest starts in Grossman’s career. He has a chance to step up and show he can be the guy. It is unclear if Shanahan is down on McNabb, high on Grossman, or a mixture of both. By excelling against Dallas, Grossman makes his head coach look like a genius. He might be able to stay poised in the pocket, but a more reasonable assumption is that he could turn into a turnover machine.

Wrap Up:

Some may say, you are only as good as your last game. I would alter that to say, you are only as good as your last five games. The Cowboys have played extremely well in their last five games. They have rediscovered what they are solid at and what can aide them in their quest for victories. They are better at running the ball and their defense has stepped up. While their receivers are dropping like flies, I still like the Cowboys to cover in this one.

Free NFL Pick: Dallas -7


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