Records shall fall, legends shall be born when the Redskins meet the Cowboys

 

After coming so far, a Redskins loss to the Cowboys Sunday night is inconceivable

Of all the jaw-dropping things we’ve witnessed about the 2012 Washington Redskins, none is so amazing as to see the team fighting for the title Beast of the East.

Hog Heaven projected seven wins for this team, and that forecast was among the most optimistic. Simulations by Football Outsiders and The Prediction Machine had the ‘Skins with fewer than seven wins. CBS Sports' Pete Prisco predicted three wins for the team. He has admitted his error on DC sports talk radio.

Washington’s turnaround was hard to see because it’s led by a bunch of players who were not on the team last year. You know the obvious name, but tip your hat to CB Richard Crawford, the seventh-round Draft pick who is averaging 23 yards per punt return. Alfred Morris can break Clinton Portis’ franchise single season rushing record with another 104 yards. K Kai Forbath and S Jordan Pugh weren’t even on the roster for the Saints game.

LB Rob Jackson seems like a new player, though he is a Vinny Cerrato find from the 2008 Draft. His pick-six of an Andy Dalton pass was our first impression of him. Jackson has three interceptions for the season. His comfort in replacing Brian Orakpo boosted the defense.

Here’s how ESPN described the Redskins’ recent performance.

“The Redskins had a season-high five sacks in Week 16 and over the last six weeks they rank fourth in the NFC with 16.0 sacks. Over the first 10 weeks of the season, Washington’s 14 sacks were tied for last in the conference. The Redskins average a sack every 15.3 dropbacks this season when sending five or more pass-rushers, but that rate drops to one every 27.8 dropbacks when sending standard pressure. Over the past six weeks, though, the Redskins have averaged a sack every 14.1 dropbacks with added pressure and once every 18.7 dropbacks with standard pressure.”

Joe Gibbs tried to renew this team with veterans – "proven talents." So did Mike Shanahan, initially. We all knew that the ‘Skins would get better by getting younger. Did you know Washington would get this much better this fast?

Liar, liar pants on fire.

Three Stats worth watching point to a passing duel, turnovers, and a division title for Washington

QB Passer Rating Differential
Redskins 103.6, Opponents 88.9, Differential +14.7
Cowboys 93.5, Opponents 95.7, Differential -2.2

Don’t count us among Tony Romo-bashers. He is a beast who has been a cut above his Redskins’ counterpart since winning the starter position with Dallas. (This is easy to admit now that RGIII is on the Redskins’ roster.) Much like Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, Romo is the reason the Cowboys can contest for games. He is not the player holding them back. He’s the one who props them up. Lose Romo and the Cowboys turn to Kyle Orton.

Romo and WR Dez Bryant have been hot commodities lately. Bryant has six TD catches in the last four games.

Romo’s 84.1 QBR when he last faced the Redskins is worst than his season average. Griffin’s 131.8 QBR of  that day is much higher than his season average. Griffin was fueled by emotion for his Texas homecoming. The Cowboys’ defense hadn’t faced him before. Don’t look for a Thanksgiving hangover. The disparity of that day will not hold up.

Miles Austin should play a complete game for the Cowboys. That’s offset by the uncertain health of Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware. RGIII is the hottest quarterback in the division and that’s a big edge for the Redskins.

Advantage: Washington

Third Down Conversions Allowed
Redskins 43.6%
Cowboys 39.8%

This has been a theme all season. The Redskins have a hard time making stops. Disruption is their strength. Move on to the next section.

Advantage: Cowboys

Turnover Differential
Redskins +14
Cowboys -3

Here’s more proof that a good offense is the best defense. The Redskins have run with a positive turnover differential all year. It has covered up flaws of an injury-plagued defense with a talent-short secondary. For perspective, compare the Redskins to the Chicago Bears.

Defensive Take-Aways
Bears:  23 INTs, 17 Recovered Fumbles, 40 Take-Aways,
Redskins:  18 INTs, 9 Recovered Fumbles, 27 Take-Aways

Chicago’s offense lost the ball 18 times. The tight-handed Redskins lost the ball 13 times. While Washington’s net turnovers look good standing alone, we have a way to go to match the league's best.

Save that discussion for the playoffs. The Redskins play the Cowboys, not the Bears. Tony Romo has been sharp of late, and he enjoys the return of Miles Austin. But the Cowboys’ defense has a mere seven interceptions to show for itself. Winning the turnover battle is as good as a score against Dallas.

Advantage: Washington

The 8-Ball don’t lie, but it can make an honest mistake.

Hog Heaven’s Magic 8-Ball cast doubt on a Washington win last Sunday. It was the first wrong call since we asked the question, "Will the Redskins win." The 8-Ball is 6-1 calling the correct outcome.

You will be glad to know the 8-Ball says “It is certain” that the Redskins will beat the Cowboys.

A special message to DeAngelo Hall

Man, if you get your hands on the ball with an unobstructed path to the goal line, go ahead and score this time. RGIII won’t mind. Really.

HAIL!

Image: Redskins at Cowboys via zimbio.com.

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Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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