Week 12: Redskins vs. Cowboys preview

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Keys to victory

1 Limit big plays » The Redskins did an excellent job of that last week vs. Philadelphia, but some of the credit goes to an Eagles offensive line that struggled with a rookie quarterback who was off. But the coverage was excellent. The Redskins need a repeat vs. receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. They can't let quarterback Tony Romo extend the play with his legs, something he was able to do often against them last season.

2 Abuse the line » Dallas' best offensive lineman, left tackle Tyron Smith, is likely out with an ankle injury, and his replacement, Jermey Parnell, isn't good. Nor is right tackle Doug Free. The inexperienced Parnell too often gets off-balance, and it's likely Dallas will provide him with a lot of help. Free has struggled, and if he sets for a bull rush, he can be beaten wide. Both sides of this makeshift line had issues with stunts vs. Cleveland last week -- a constantly changing line leads to miscommunication -- and the Redskins like to run stunts.

3 Handle the details » The Redskins lost to Pittsburgh in part because of drops. They lost to Carolina in part because of penalties (13). They even committed 13 penalties again last week. For a team that wants to make a playoff push, that's a tough way to maintain success. The Redskins aren't talented enough to overcome these sorts of issues constantly, especially after a short work week and playing on the road.

Key matchups

LT Trent Williams

He fared well vs. Ware in the second meeting of 2011 and needs to stop the inside spin move.

vs.

LB DeMarcus Ware

The Cowboys also will line up their sack leader vs. RT Tyler Polumbus. That's a tough matchup.

NT Barry Cofield

He played a terrific game vs. Philadelphia. Cofield's quickness could be tough to handle.

vs.

C Mackenzy Bernadeau

He's Dallas' third starting center this season. He struggled last week.

LB London Fletcher

Healthy or not, covering Witten is a chore. Yet another tight end eight inches taller than Fletcher.

vs.

TE Jason Witten

He has slowed down, but he still gets open enough to cause problems.

State of the teams

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas could end up in first place in the NFC East by the end of the weekend with a win and a New York loss. But the Cowboys, like the rest of the division, are inconsistent. Their offensive line is a mess, and their top running back remains out. But quarterback Tony Romo is terrific on Thanksgiving (14 touchdowns, four interceptions).

Washington Redskins

The Redskins found new life after their win over Philadelphia, though it was tempered with the loss of safety Brandon Meriweather. Still, there's an air of confidence in part because of Robert Griffin III. They know he gives them an edge, especially in a short week.

Examiner predicts

If this game were Sunday, we would go back and forth 15 more times on predicting a winner. Griffin stars, but Romo wins.

Cowboys 24, Redskins 23

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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