Previewing Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys In NFL Week 2

Sep 12, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) runs after a catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) runs after a catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Redskins will be playing the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season. What can be expected of the team in the contest?

The Washington Redskins are heading into their first divisional matchup of the season on Sunday, and it should be a fun one. After a disappointing Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team will look to rebound against their biggest rival, the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are also (0-1) heading into the second week of action, so this game could be an important factor for the divisional race at some point down the line.

The most interesting part of the game for the Redskins is that the team will be facing a backfield led by a couple of rookies. With Tony Romo out, Dak Prescott is at the helm for the Cowboys. The rookie put on a decent display last week against the New York Giants, and he has demonstrated the ability to be a solid NFL starter. The Skins will also get their first look at fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott had a tough time finding running room against the stout Giants defense in Week 1, but against the Redskins he should find more success. Former Redskin Alfred Morris will also get some carries in this one. He could be a factor for the team if he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the Washington defense.

A major part of the game plan for the Redskins has to be focused on stopping the run to force Prescott to make an impact. Perhaps this matchup was part of the reason that the team brought Cullen Jenkins back following the loss to the Steelers. The 12 year veteran should improve a run defense that had issues stopping DeAngelo Williams while also providing some extra pass rush capabilities.

Related Story: Redskins Re-Sign DL Cullen Jenkins

Elsewhere on defense, one of the big storylines will once again focus on Josh Norman. The top corner on the team performed well against the Steelers, but he was mysteriously not allowed to shadow Antonio Brown for the game. Jay Gruden thought that would not be good for the defense as a whole. As a result, Brown mostly matched up against Bashaud Breeland who was exposed and torched numerous times. The Redskins have to let Norman shadow Cowboys star Dez Bryant, and if he does it will greatly help the team.

In his first week of action, Bryant only managed to catch one pass for 8 yards during a disappointing performance. The Giants elite corners shut him down, and Norman should be able to do the same. That is, of course, if the coaching staff allows him to follow Bryant around the field. If they do not, then the team could be in bad shape again.

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On the offensive side of the ball, the matchup should be more favorable for the Redskins. The Cowboys are missing three defensive starters in their front seven. Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Rolando McClain are all suspended to begin the year. They will not play in the Week 2 battle. As a result, the Cowboys may struggle to get pressure on Kirk Cousins. That would certainly benefit the quarterback.

Cousins really had trouble during the season opener, and he needs to improve his game heading into Week 2. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of a banged up defense, and Cousins has to capitalize. It may behoove the veteran to focus on the intermediate passing game in this contest. The Cowboys are missing some linebacker talent after all, so the Skins may be able to gain 10-15 yards per play if they can create mismatches against the linebackers.

With that said, Jordan Reed should be Cousins’ top target during this game. He can take advantage of the shorthanded Cowboys defense and find good matchups against linebackers and safeties. Reed should be able to use his athleticism to beat them and find space. He could end up being the leading receiver. In turn, that will open up some space for DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to move freely.

must read: Washington Redskins Breakdown: Week 1 vs. Steelers

In terms of the running game, the matchup against the Cowboys will definitely be easier than the matchup against the Steelers. However, it remains to be seen if they will get anything going. Matt Jones will get the bulk of the carries, but do not be surprised if Robert Kelley gets his first NFL carry in this game. The coaching staff has to do something to spark the run game. Adding Kelley to the mix will be a good alternative. Using him, Jones, and Chris Thompson in a three back rotation makes a lot of sense.

This game should be a close one, but I think that the Redskins will get their first win in it. The team learned a lot from the contest against the Steelers, and I cannot see them making the same mistakes again. Expect a close, classic divisional battle, but also expect the Redskins to emerge victorious.

Score Prediction: Redskins 27, Cowboys 21