NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Preview

DeMarco MurrayWith their hopes of staying alive in the NFC East on the line, the (2-5) Washington Redskins travel to ATT Stadium to take on their divisional rivals and one of the best teams in the league, the (6-1) Dallas Cowboys (8:30pm EST, Monday on ESPN).

While often neglected recently because of the lack of success from both teams, the Cowboys-Redskins actually have a strong and significant rivalry that goes back to 1960.

Regarded as both, the “best rivalry in the NFL” by ESPN and “one of the greatest in sports,” by Sports Illustrated, the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry has been marked with periods of incredible championship success and financial promise. In the 54+ years since the start of the rivalry, the teams have combined to win 28 divisional titles and eight Super Bowls on 13 appearances. Additionally, they are ranked as the two wealthiest franchises in the NFL. Why is this important?

Even though the Redskins have struggled mightily this year, partly as a result of losing their starting quarterback, Robert Griffin III, to yet another injury, they still have a chance to pull off the surprise victory on Monday. Since the early years of the rivalry, very few times has there been a blowout, no matter how good or bad one of the two teams had been at that time. There is always reason to expect that because of this being both a divisional and strong rivalry game, that both teams will be there to play their hardest.

Furthermore, the rivalry has regularly played out on Monday night with their 15 meetings being second only to the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, who have met 17 times in the week’s final game. The Cowboys lead by the slimmest margin (8-7) and only once in these 15 meetings has the winning team won by more than 20 points. The average margin of victory is just over seven points and in the last six meetings, no team has won by more than a touchdown.

So like I said, the rivalry added to the divisional implications and the lights of the Monday night luster, provide the perfect trifecta for a matchup that very well could go down to the wire.

What Real Impact does Colt McCoy have?

In 2010, the Cleveland Browns drafted Texas standout, Colt McCoy, with the anticipation that he would serve as their franchise quarterback. Well it didn’t quite work out that way and as a result, the Browns parted ways with McCoy after the 2012 season.

The 28-year-old then spent a year with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and threw exactly one pass in four games. Again, his team chose to go in a different direction for Colin Kaepernick’s backup and that is why we are where we are today, with McCoy in DC.

With Griffin’s injury and Kurt Cousins’ inability to bounce back from two very lackluster weeks, McCoy is now the starter for the Redskins. He entered the game midway last week and managed to lead a game-winning drive for Washington. He will be starting his first game since 2011.

Like so many from his draft class, McCoy’s strength is in his multi-faceted game. Not as proficient a runner as Kaepernick or Griffin or Cam Newton, McCoy does use his legs to keep plays alive. He has had his biggest success in both college and the pros when he can extend the pocket and open up the middle of the field.

McCoy’s strengths come in the short passing game so look to see tight ends, Jordan Reed and Niles Paul very much involved. Reed, after game one, has already emerged as a favorite target of McCoy as the sure handed tight end was instrumental in last week’s comeback.

Another thing to look for is the screen pass, something Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are both likely to thrive in with McCoy under center. The two traditionally long-ball threats, will be dual utilized in this game as McCoy is going to need the short passing game to mask his lack of arm strength. Chances are if Jackson breaks off a 50+ yarder, it will be because of YAC.

Unfortunately, Dallas’ defense prides itself on being smart and quick. They have been able to sniff out screens with an incredible level of accuracy and are very good in the short, middle-of-the-field game. McCoy could struggle against a front seven like this but he does have the advantage of being relatively fresh to the opposing team. There isn’t much tape on McCoy and as a result, he might just be able to surprise the defense.

So does McCoy have a legitimate chance to make an impact? Sure. Given the state of the Washington offense, he will need to dink and dunk a bit but if the Redskins can control the clock and time of possession, an upset victory is not out of the question with McCoy under center.

There is No Outrunning DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray (pictured), runningback of the Cowboys, has done something no other back has ever done in the history of the league and that is run for over 100 yards in each of his first seven games of the season.

If there is a team capable of slowing the record-breaking pace Murray is on, he hasn’t faced them yet. And chances are, with allowing the 12th most yards to opposing runners, 103.3 per game, the Redskins aren’t that team.

Stopping or even slowing Murray takes more than just a strong run defense. It is going to take a level of cleverness that this defense just does not have. Of course, Murray can’t possibly sustain this pace forever and in some ways the Cowboys might be overusing the back, but until he shows signs of stopping, this won’t change. Dallas’ offense has only been able to be as good as it has been because of their running game. It sets up everything else and puts a lot less pressure on Tony Romo’s shoulders.

Dallas is 6-1, the best record in the NFC, in large part because of Murray. If they go 7-1, I have to believe it will be because of Murray once again.

Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys Betting Picks

It’s that classic battle between cowboys and indians and it has been going on for as long as these two teams have been in the league together. Dallas is the hot hand right now and at home, enters as 10-point favorites. There is a lot to consider including Murray and McCoy and they impact both can have.

In the end, the Cowboys look primed to get the win but as I mentioned, rivalry games are rarely blowouts, especially between these two.

  • The Monday night trend should continue here and that is why I advise putting your money on the Redskins to best the loftiest spread of the week. The best option is Washington Redskins +10pts at betting odds of -110 with Bovada Sportsbook. You could get +10.5pts with 5Dimes Sportsbook, but the odds reduce to -130 for that extra half point advantage.
  • As for the total points, under 50 is the safe bet here considering the Monday night trend of low-scoring games between these two. Once again Bovada provides the best odds for under 50 @ -110 odds. BetOnline is under 49.5pts while 5Dimes goes under 49 for the same odds.
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