A classic rivalry is renewed during week one of the NFL regular season as the Dallas Cowboys visit the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in DC.
Vegas odds have placed the Cowboys as 3-point road favorites. The Cowboys were 4-4 against the spread (ATS) on the road in 2009 while the Redskins were 2-3 as home underdogs ATS. Dallas swept the season series between these NFC East rivals for the first time since 2004, winning 17-0 and 7-6.
The Redskins have undergone some significant changes in the off-season, changing both the head coach and the starting quarterback. The new administration in DC is ex-Denver coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan brings to the team his Denver zone blocking scheme as well as a no-nonsense approach that has ruffled some feathers, including DT Albert Haynesworth.
DC has also welcomed an old rival as one of their own as the Redskins acquired ex-Eagle Donovan McNabb in a trade. McNabb brings something the Redskins have lacked in recent years, a leader at that position who can make plays. McNabb, on the wrong side of 30, has much to prove in DC and it starts against Dallas on Sunday Night Football.
McNabb has some talent to work with, including fellow 30-somethings Santana Moss and Joey Galloway as well as Chris Cooley at tight end. Running back Clinton Portis should benefit from the zone blocking scheme and a good run blocking offensive line.
The Redskins will want to throw the ball, and Dallas showed the secondary is susceptible to the pass, with opposing quarterbacks throwing for 19 TDs against just 11 INTs in 2009. McNabb likes to throw to the tight end so Cooley vs. the safeties will be a match-up to watch. The Cowboys strength is in rushing the passer so McNabb will need to get the ball out quickly against a defense that sacked the quarterback 42 times in 2009. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware led a diversified sack attack with 11 and the Skins will need to be aware of this disruptive player at all times. The Skins will also attempt to run the ball and opponents ran the ball at a 4.0 average per rush clip with 7 TDs and 9 runs of 20 yards or longer. Portis could have a nice game running.
With McNabb leading a new attack, the Redskins could find success offensively against the Cowboys, but can they put-up enough offense? The Cowboys have just enough defensive talent to hold-off the Redskins, though, and should cover the spread in a close game.
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