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What to Watch: Cowboys vs. Redskins

Win and the 'Skins are NFC East champs



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    Robert Griffin III has the Redskins entrenched in the NFC playoff picture.

    Game time: Sunday, Dec. 30, 8:20 p.m. ET, FedEx Field
    Weather: low 30s, partly cloudy
    Records: Cowboys (8-7) at Redskins (9-6)

    1. Will Robert Griffin III be back to his running ways?
    This has been the storyline this week but does it really matter? We've noted a few times already that the last time these two teams met, RGIII threw for four touchdowns and rushed for only 29 yards, his fourth lowest rushing total this season. For what it's worth, Griffin said the knee he injured in Week 14 is fine, and coach Mike Shanahan expects that his rookie quarterback will be able to do all the things that he did prior to hurting his knee.

    2. Can Alfred Morris carry the rushing load if RGIII can't?
    Yep, he sure can. Morris, the rookie who enters the game with more than 1,400 rushing yards, and ran for 113 yards the last time the 'Skins faced the Cowboys. The three other lowest rushing performances by Griffin saw Morris go for 115 yards (Falcons, Week 5), 59 yards (Steelers, Week 8), and 91 yards (Eagles, Week 16). The better question would be if Dallas' defense has figured out how to stop the Redskins. Washington's passing offense ranks fifth in the league, according to Football Outsiders and their run game is third. Put another way: if one phase of the offense isn't working, the Cowboys still have to contend with the other phase. And they couldn't stop either in the first meeting.

    3. How will the 'Skins D slow Tony Romo?
    Romo gets a bum rap as a choke artist but the reality is that he's one of the NFL's best quarterbacks stuck on on of its most dysfunctional teams. Whether it's hare-brained antics from owner and general manager Jerry Jones, or inexplicable in-game coaching decisions from Jason Garrett, Romo has to overcome a lot. He's played well in recent weeks and is currently the NFL's fourth most efficient QB, according to Football Outsiders (behind Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers). Washington's pass defense, meanwhile, ranks 17th, which means that unless defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has some new and inventive ways to mount a pass rush Romo could have a big day.

    4. How about Dez Bryant and Jason Witten?
    This goes hand in hand with No. 3 above. The short answer: Washington's front seven have to get after Romo and force him into mistakes. Because if they don't, he'll play pitch and catch with Bryant (even with one broken finger) and Witten all night.

    5. Washington can't lose, right?
    It seems weird to even write this and we're not trying to jinx things, but, look, the 'Skins have reeled off six in a row against much tougher opponents. Romo or not, Dallas can't seem to get out of its own way when the game's on the line. There's no reason to think that will suddenly change now. Alternatively, Griffin seems to thrive under pressure although, as Shanahan pointed out earlier this week, “If you’re going to be compared to the greats, you’re going to have to win some big games." Put another way: it's go time.