Monday, September 29, 2008


Originally posted by sabrinalopez210 & wkyytrtvrtv from a sports forum:

2:14 mark is where the field goal is. it wasn't good.


My Take From Rewatching the Game, Again and Again

Originally Posted by tcl32 from a sports forum:

Allright guys I went to the game Sunday and had not had a chance to watch it on tv until just now. I watched every play about 3 or 4 times on DVR and I am going to give you my opinion on the game.


Offensively-Everyone knows Garrett abandoned the run in this game way to early and did not give Felix Jones a touch offensively. Bad move by Garrett but the offense was still effective when Romo wasnt forcing throws to Owens.

Defensively-I have seen many of you crucify Wade and Stewart in threads since the game, however I think the blame lies solely on the players for their performance in this game. I will go into detail a little later.

Tony Romo:

This was an up and down game for Romo...He showed moments of brilliance as well as a few knuckleheaded moments. I think the media got in his head about getting the ball to Owens, it was apparent he was forcing throws.
The interception was simply him misreading the defense, he read the corner and didnt think the safety would have the flats.

One thing I did notice is that Romo had a lot of passes float that should have been thrown with some zip. It is apparent that Romo is an extreme talent, but still has much to learn.


So many of you want to blame the coaching staff for the problems, but I put it on the players. At some point, we have to quit saying they have all the talent in the world, because apparently they do not.

I hear cry after cry for man coverage, well Newman gave up two touchdown passes in man coverage. When we were in both man and zone our corners just got beat. Simple as that, the Redskins receiver ran a crisp route and had Newman and Henry on the turf. I dont see how Brian Stewart and Wade Phillips can be blamed for Newman getting his butt kicked and Henry falling down and missing tackles.

As for the run defense, almost every big running play came when Ratliff got double teamed and was driven off the ball. I think we miss Roy Williams in this area, on many runs we are used to seeing Roy make the tackle when the guy got passed the line of scrimmage. Yeah occasionally he missed tackles, but if you havent notice everyone else on this defense does too. Watkins and Brown both got blocked out of plays or were still 20 yards downfield when the RB was well past the LOS.

Just remember, dont always blame the coaching staff when the players arent making plays when they are in position to do so.

Still in Search of 'Leaders' on this team..

Originally Posted by ethiostar from a sports forum:

Let me be clear first that i'm not of the opinion that we need to have one loud mouth player to act as a leader. Nor is this a 'the sky is falling' post. However, i am very concerned about what appears to me to be a lack of any type of leadership on this team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

One can argue that Ellis is that guy on defense and we all have seen him on the sidelines trying to inspire the 'troops'. Other than Ellis, i don't see anybody else who has or is willing to step up and try and arouse some type of emotion. I thought maybe Tank will be the other person on D, but he has been largely absent.

And Yes, i understand that there are a lot of players that lead by example, and they get paid millions to be inspired to play, etc......... The reality is that no matter who who we are or how much money we get paid to do what we do we all need a little swift kick on the bum every once in a while.

We don't need someone to be barking every game. We just need someone who can gather and refocus the players when things get tough. I don't see Wade or Garrett doing it, MBIII is too quite of a person to do it, Witten is just a work horse and doesn't seem to talk much, TO might be afraid that his actions will be misinterpreted by the media, Romo, so far, seems to sit on the bench and pout after a turnover .........

There were a lot of things that went wrong during yesterday's game. I don't even want to go through those in detail. But the game was within reach the entire time, someone needs to step up and refuse to let the game slip away. We might still lose but at least we lose trying. What i saw yesterday was a team that wasn't hungry, motivated, and in the end angry enough to win the game.

Here is to hoping they learn from this one.

SI FanNation: Redskin's celebration irks Cowboy

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tank Johnson had to be restrained after return specialist Rock Cartwright stood on the 50-yard line star at Texas Stadium yesterday as he celebrated Washington's 26-24 victory.

"This is how it is. When you win, you win with class. When you lose, you lose with class," Johnson said. "One of their guys, Cartwright, took it upon himself to celebrate on our star. "It's the fourth game of the season. No one has accomplished anything but a win. That's just disrespectful and I don't think we'd do that to them. And I'm surprised he did that to us."

The Redskins could celebrate however they pleased, Cartwright said. "He was a little frustrated that we won," Cartwright said. "He got mad that I went and stood at the middle of the star. "I went to say hello to everybody, and he got mad that I stood at the middle of the star. It is what it is. I'm past it. I'm not worried about it. I think they're just mad that we came in and got a win today. It's part of the game. You win some, you lose some."

Skins Do Big Number On Cowboys

Mickey Spagnola - Email Columnist
September 28, 2008 10:15 PM

IRVING, Texas - Well, they're human after all.

Very human.

In fact, on this sticky Sunday afternoon here at Texas Stadium, where the Washington Redskins arrived dead set on proving they not only belong in the NFC East race, but the NFC race, too, the Dallas Cowboys were very pedestrian - at least for them.

And when playing in the NFC East, whose members have now accounted for four of the Cowboys last five overall losses, pedestrian just isn't going to get it. They found that out last year at the end of the season against Philadelphia and Washington, and then the point was hammered home by the New York Giants one last time in the playoffs.

Now this: Redskins 26, Ordinary Cowboys 24.

There will be no undefeated season, and this team so many were proclaiming untouchable, was wrapped up in a gigantic bear hug by the Redskins, so tight there would be no miracles saving the Cowboys in the end as they were saved last year at Buffalo and at Detroit.

As head coach Wade Phillips said, "You can't count on miracle plays at the end of the game," and without a game-saving miracle, the Cowboys now are in the same 3-1 boat as the Redskins, no better, no worse.

No, maybe the football gods help those who help themselves, too, and far too many times the Cowboys hurt themselves, like with the penalty for having 12-men on the field, not only costing them 3 minutes, 32 seconds on the game clock, but allowing Washington kicker Shaun Suisham to attempt a much more makeable 29-yard field goal for what turned out to be the game-winning points, rather than the 49-yarder he would have been attempting without the five-yard penalty giving the Redskins a first down.

Or like only being able to run for 44 yards, which actually is 43 more than they ran for in the 2007 season finale against these same Skins. Or like on attempting to run 11 times, their fewest rushing attempts since 1990 against the Giants because they simply couldn't, and only one more than the club's all-time low of 10 when such activity was futile in their 1989 season opener against the Saints, a foreboding day to the 1-15 season.

Or like being unable to stop the run, Clinton Portis gaining 121 yards, becoming the only running back to rush for 100 yards against the Cowboys - he did so in the year-ender last year, too - since Brian Westbrook did so in Game 15 of the 2006 season. Not coincidently, the Cowboys lost all three of those games.

Or like not being able to cover Santana Moss - again - the Washington wide receiver catching eight passes for 145 yards, including a 53-yarder. Hey, at least they kept the dude out of the end zone.

You want more pedestrian? How about only possessing the ball for 21:51, their lowest time of possession since the 21:45 last year against New England, and worse, just 9:40 in the entire second half? How about scoring a season-low 24 points? How about still no takeaways and suffering yet another interception?

At least the head coach was realistic after the Cowboys finished what most thought would be a grueling first month of the season at 3-1, and maybe the most sobering thought might be this: Had Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb not mishandled that handoff while preparing to put the Cowboys away here two weeks ago, the once-thought invincible Cowboys could be 2-2.

"I thought they outplayed our offense," Phillips said. "They outplayed our defense. They outplayed our special teams and our coaches. Take your pick."

And as he would eventually get to, "I don't have excuses and I'm not making excuses. They played better than us."

Now, hey, I understand the perception out there. That is never supposed to happen, not to the Dallas Cowboys. If they lose, as every team in the National Football League has at least once every year over the past 35 seasons with the exception of Miami in 1972 and New England last year, there has to be blame.

Now Pat Watkins took the blame for being that 12th guy on the field, only acceptable if you're an Aggie.

Terence Newman took some blame for giving up a few of those big passes to Moss, along with the two-yard touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El.

The defensive line took the blame for the Redskins controlling the ball for a ridiculous 38:09.

And the offense realizes it just didn't make enough plays.

"It was just a tough day, like I said," said Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who threw for a franchise tying 300-yards his 13th time to no avail.

Now some are going to say the Cowboys took the 11-point underdog Redskins lightly.

Some will want to say the Cowboys relaxed after going up 7-0, and then seemingly with ease wiping out a Washington 10-point lead, the largest lead an opponent has held over the Cowboys this season, to tie the game at 17 on the first possession of the third quarter.

Or that they gave up on the run too soon or that they were forcing the ball to Terrell Owens just to keep him happy.

Or . . . look it has to be something. These are the Cowboys, for heaven's sakes.

But as blasphemous as this might sound, you got to tip your cap to the Redskins. They just played better and smarter than the Cowboys. They controlled both lines of scrimmage. They gambled with a lot of man coverage on Owens, Shawn Springs playing his heart out until leaving the game with an injury in the third quarter, although look, LaRon Landry was lurking over the top quite a bit.

And while it might have appeared the Redskins were getting pressure on Romo, really it was the coverage forcing Romo to hold the ball a tick or three longer instead of coming up throwing when his back foot hit on those five-step drops as usual.

Plus, how about those Redskins surviving when playing there at the end of the third quarter with two of their top three cornerbacks on the sideline, Springs and nickel back Fred Smoot knocked out of the game. So Carlos Rogers moved over to take Owens, and when they had to come in with Leigh Torrence at the other corner, the Cowboys immediately went to their three wideout formation.

The Redskins countered with those two corners and then three safeties on their nickel. And I'll be darn, with Austin lined up wide to the right on first-and-10 at the Cowboys 38, Torrence backed off him like 10 yards, baiting him to throw a stop route to Austin. In fact, when they lined up, coming out of my mouth was, "They got an easy 10-yard stop route to Austin."

One problem, the Redskins read Romo's mind. Safety Chris Horton, lining up in the slot, simply ran straight out to his left, undercutting Romo's pass to Austin for an interception with 12 seconds left in the third quarter. The Redskins turned that possession into another Suisham field goal (33 yards) and a 23-17 lead.

"Everybody has to look at the Redskins in a different light right now," said Redskins running back Ladell Betts after they stretched their winning streak to three straight. "This is a great team. We can beat anybody. We can play with anybody."

But come on, it was only a six-point lead. There was time. And after all, these are the Cowboys.

But of all things, the Cowboys went three and out. Still there was time, Washington getting the ball at its 34 with a whole 10:16 left. But the Cowboys allowed Washington to convert two first downs. Yet still there was time, with the Redskins facing third-and-two from the Cowboys 31 with 6:58 remaining.

And there was DeMarcus Ware, who must have chip marks all over his body as many times as the Redskins running backs chipped him on passing plays, stopping Portis for no gain. But alas, once again the Cowboys were far too human, Pat Watkins saying he was the extra guy on the field, giving the Redskins another first down.

What are you going to do?

Still there was enough time, right, the Cowboys getting the ball back trailing by nine after Suisham's chip-shot field goal with 3:16 remaining. Touchdown, recovered onside kick and a Nick Folk 50-yard field goal as time expires, and Cowboys win by one, 27-26.

Right? Went through your mind, didn't it?

Well, the touchdown was rather easy, the Cowboys covering 87 yards in just 1:40, narrowing the score to 26-24 with 1:42 remaining when Austin weaved into the end zone. Yep, still there was time.

And there was the opportunity, Folk drilling the one-hopper high into the air, just as planned, and I'll be darn, here came Sam Hurd, just as he did in Buffalo, leaping into the air with a chance to recover. But as he twisted to catch the ball heading over his back shoulder, the ball grazed off his hands and out of bounds, as it probably does more times than not on those types of plays. Skins ball.

Now there was not enough time.

Not for mere humans.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's a rich rivalry for Dallas Cowboys, Redskins owners

By DAVID MOORE / The Dallas Morning News

So, did you hear the one about three billionaires stranded on the beach without a dime among them?

It's a good one. But hours before yet another game in the long and bitter rivalry between the Cowboys and Redskins, maybe this is a better place to start.

Stephen Jones and his family spent a pleasant evening at the Aspen home of Dan Snyder a few years ago. Once Jones returned home, he realized he had left his cellphone.

No problem, Snyder said. Jones could have one of the kids come by and pick it up. The moment Jones' nephew returned and put the phone in his hand, it rang.

"It was this God-awful song," Jones said.

It was "Hail to the Redskins." Snyder's oldest daughter downloaded the ring tone for the Cowboys' executive vice president.

For those weaned on the delicious and often dysfunctional details of this rivalry, don't worry. The competitive fires still burn. When Snyder, the Redskins' owner, bumps into Jerry and Stephen Jones on the Texas Stadium field before today's game, he won't do much more than shake their hands and smile. His obsession to beat the Cowboys is too strong to allow much more.

But Snyder has developed a relationship with the Jones family. He sits next to Jerry in NFL meetings so the two, in Snyder's words, "can horse around." His family has vacationed with Jerry and his wife in the Caribbean and dined on sashimi and lobster with wasabi pepper sauce with Stephen and his family in the Rockies.

"We have a little better friendship than people might think," Jerry Jones said. "We sure don't have it because of him being the owner of the Redskins.

"There is a chill when we get near game time and start thinking about it from a competitive situation."

Give and take
Jerry Jones remembers the day Snyder dropped by his office unannounced. He had flown in early for the game and wanted to take Jones to lunch.

Jerry and Stephen got into a car driven by one of Snyder's friends. As the car pulled out of the parking lot, Snyder put in a tape. It was a rap song about beating the Cowboys.

"They spent 30 minutes driving all over Dallas playing that song," Jones said as the car passed one restaurant after another. "I tolerated it."

Snyder laughed. His recollection is different.

"First of all, it was the night before the game, and I think Jerry picked us up at the hotel," Snyder said. "I was with a friend of mine, Tony Roberts. We put the tape in, and Jerry took it out so quick.

"The rest of it is Jones, as you know, exaggerating."

The banter between the two is good-natured. But Jones will tell you most of it is instigated by Snyder, who is 5-13 against the Cowboys since he assumed control of Washington.

"I don't know that I have gotten into it as much as he has," Jerry Jones said of the verbal digs. "I really haven't.

"You've done the numbers. It's pretty lopsided."

Admiration, respect
There are similarities. Both owners are respected for their business acumen. They are on the same page philosophically with where the league is headed and how to get there. Jones was once a young, brash owner himself.

The difference is that Jones altered the initial perception of him by revealing himself to the fans and media. Snyder isn't interested in sharing himself with the public.

And there's at least one other difference.

"We have some things in common," Jerry Jones said, "but I know I'm high maintenance."

Snyder's response?

"He's right. Jerry is definitely high maintenance."

This is a side Snyder shows to friends but rarely the public. Stephen stressed there is nothing contentious or confrontational about Snyder's comments. They are all done in fun.

Jerry likes Snyder's style and said, "There is a little bit of Mark Cuban in him." Snyder knows Cuban and said he considers that a compliment.

Now about those three billionaires in their bathing suits on the beach ...

Snyder and Jerry Jones were vacationing near St. Thomas one summer on the boat of Miami's Wayne Huizenga. Snyder and Jones, along with Houston's Bob McNair, had someone run them over to the island so they could get something to drink. Once there, the three men realized they didn't have any money.

"Jerry went to get the drinks," Snyder said. "He said, 'I'll try to sell the guy.' He is the master salesman."

Jones got the beer by convincing the man he would return to the boat and come back with the money. And what does this have to do with the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry?

"Well, I couldn't trust the other two, but I'm a Cowboys fan," the bartender told Jones. "I can trust you."

Score one for the Jones family in this rivalry.

It's almost enough to make up for the cellphone stunt.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Little known facts about the Cowboys and Redskins

Originally posted by cowboy2112 from a sports forum:

With their 24-17 win over the Cardinals last Sunday, the Redskins have won two straight after dropping their season-opener to the Giants. Washington has lost 11 of its last 12 games in Dallas. Dallas defeated Green Bay at Lambeau Field for the first time in team history last Sunday night and is now 3-0 for the second straight campaign. The Cowboys won their first five games in 2007 before losing to the Patriots in Week 6. The Cowboys haven't intercepted an opponents' pass in 147 consecutive attempts — the longest active streak in football. The last Dallas interception came in Week 16 of 2007 off of Carolina's Matt Moore. Washington quarterbacks haven't thrown an interception in the last 7+ games — a stretch of 222 pass attempts (longest active streak in the league). The last time any 'Skins QB threw a pick was when Jason Campbell did so against Buffalo in Week 13 of 2007. Felix Jones scored on a 60-yard run Sunday night and has now reached paydirt three times in 2008 (2 rushing and 1 kickoff return) — Jones is the first Cowboy in franchise history to score a TD in each of his first three NFL games. Dallas has converted 60.0% of its third downs in 2008 — best of any team in the league. Since 1991, the highest third-down conversion rate in a single season belongs to the 2006 Colts (56.1%). The Redskins are the only team in the league without an offensive turnover in 2008. Washington's only giveaway came on a fumbled punt by Antwaan Randle El in Week 2 and the 'Skins turnover differential is currently +5 this season (best in the league). Jason Witten has a team-high 20 receptions through Week 3, but is still looking for his first touchdown of the season. Witten's 20 catches without a TD are the most of any player in the league that hasn't reached paydirt.

Five Basics to Stopping Dallas


Pound The Ball

Running back Clinton Portis has averaged 3.9 yards per carry in his career against Dallas, which is also his career average in 22 NFC East contests. Finding a way to break off a few big runs against a stout Dallas defense could sway the outcome.

Hands Off

The Redskins have the best turnover ratio in the NFL. They are the only club without an offensive giveaway, and quarterback Jason Campbell has been well protected and no longer is prone to fumbles. It's awfully hard to lose the turnover battle and win on the road.

Special, Special Teams

The punting game must be consistent. Holds must be firm. Finding a way to limit rookie return sensation Felix Jones (and veteran Adam Jones on punts) cannot be overstated. Dallas's offense is potent enough without a short field.

Open It Up

Dallas's greatest vulnerability is in the defensive secondary, and though Jim Zorn's West Coast offense is built primarily on short and intermediate routes, throwing the deep ball is a must. It will keep the safeties off the line a bit more, and Campbell has the arm to deliver the long pass.

Press The Issue

In their first matchup last season, cornerback Shawn Springs did a fine job in man-to-man coverage on Dallas wideout Terrell Owens, but the Redskins wilted in the second half when they switched to more zone looks. After coming off his performance on Arizona's Anquan Boldin last week, Springs should be up for this challenge, and taking away this big-play threat limits the scope of the Cowboys' attack.

Cowboys' Hurd set to make return

By Tom Orsborn - SAEN

Dallas Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd is ready to make his season debut on Sunday against Washington after participating fully in each of the team's three practices this week.

But coach Wade Phillips was noncommittal about whether he would carry five receivers on the 45-man roster, meaning either Hurd or Isaiah Stanback could be inactive.

Hurd, a Brackenridge graduate, missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain. The team's official injury report lists him as probable.

“The problem is the number of players you can suit up for a game,” Phillips told reporters on Friday in Irving. “You can't suit everybody up. But at least we have enough healthy guys to make decisions, so that's a good thing.”

If Phillips scratches Stanback, cornerback Orlando Scandrick will probably partner with fellow rookie Felix Jones on kick returns. Hurd is one of the team's best special team performers, excelling at kick coverage.

Linebacker Anthony Spencer (knee), safety Pat Watkins (neck) and tight end Jason Witten (shoulder) also are listed as probable.

Backup defensive tackle Tank Johnson is questionable after an ankle injury limited his participation in Friday's practice, but Phillips said he's counting on Johnson playing.

“Tank tells me he's ready to play,” Phillips said. “He gave the thumbs up.”

Running back Deon Anderson (knee), guard Kyle Kosier (foot) and safety Roy Williams (forearm) will not play.

The timetable for Williams' return is Oct. 12 at Arizona.

“Roy did some running yesterday,” Phillips said. “He's been running. Things seem to be progressing well, but I'm sure they will have to re-X-ray it to see how he is.”

Defensive end Jason Taylor (calf) is out for the Redskins. Rookie receiver Malcolm Kelly (ankle) is doubtful, while tackle Stephon Heyer (shoulder) and linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring) are questionable.

Running back Mike Sellers (thigh) and receiver Fred Smoot (hip) are probable.

Barber's workload examined: Phillips reiterated he's not concerned that the workload for Marion Barber could wear him down as the season progresses.

Barber, one of the NFL's most physical runners, is tied for fifth in the league in average carries per game with 20.7.

“It's like any running back that's carrying the load,” Phillips said. “You have to realize what it is and what situation you're in, but when you're trying to win the game and it's on the 1-yard line and it's the 25th carry, well, you've got to give it to him.

“We'll be careful with him. I don't think you're overloading a guy carrying it 20 times.”

Barber recorded career highs for carries (28) and rushing yards (142) in last week's 27-16 victory at Green Bay.

Dallas vs. Washington Game Preview

by Yakuza Rich

SEPTEMBER 28, 2008 4:15 PM EST

Despite dominating the rivalry versus the Washington Redskins with an all time 56-36-2 record, the two teams have split the rivalry since the return of Joe Gibbs with 4 wins a piece. In 2007 with their last year under Gibbs, the Cowboys won a week 11 thriller 28-23 after a late game interception by Terence Newman. Eventually Redskins QB Jason Campbell got injured and was replaced by Todd Collins which helped the Skins get on a 4 game winning streak and beat Dallas in a meaningless week 17 game (meaningless for Dallas) at FedEx.

Now the Redskins have turned the page to the Jim Zorn era. Zorn has revamped their offensive style to the West Coast offensive scheme, but has maintained a similar defensive scheme. The Skins struggled heavily in weeks 3 and 4 of preseason by losing by a combined scored of 71-6. The Skins continued to struggle in a lackluster 16-7 loss to the Giants in week 1. However, they’ve rebounded nicely the past two weeks beating both the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals. Now both teams come together in what should be another fierce battle for supremacy in the NFC East.


As Ron Jaworski correctly pointed out, the Cleveland Browns did in fact blitz Tony Romo in week one. The assumption that they only rushed 3 players on Romo is a bit of a fallacy. Sure, there were times they did, but they did blitz Romo…particularly in the first half. But they could not get to Romo and he torched their defense. The Eagles of course blitzed Dallas as well, continuing their style of defense and for the most part Romo was able to avoid the blitz and beat it badly. However, last week the Cowboys faced a different gameplan where the Packers did not blitz. To make things even more different, the Packers didn’t use a lot of press coverage, in particular against Terrell Owens, and instead played a lot of soft coverage with safety help over the top, trying to keep Owens in front of them. If the Packers were to get pressure on Romo, they tried to do it fully with their defensive line. In essence, the Browns and Eagles were more focused on getting pressure on Romo while the Packers were more focused on not giving up the big play.

While the offense wound up scoring 27 points and moving the ball quite well, it was pretty obvious that the Packers strategy had the most success so far against the Cowboys defense. And with that I expect the Redskins to follow the same type of scheme.

The Cowboys seemed to be thrown a little off guard by the Packers scheme, but they attacked it with the running game (because the Packers were playing so far back on defense) and sending Owens deep and hitting players like Jason Witten on underneath routes. The Packers did really send the D-Line after Romo as it was their only form of pass rush, but Redskins D-Coordinator Greg Blache is a “stop the run first” coach and with Jason Taylor out with an injury, I’m likely to believe that the Skins will concentrate on stopping the big play and taking away the run. This ought to leave Romo with a lot of time to throw, but the key is if Romo is patient enough to take the stuff underneath if he doesn’t find anything open deep. Romo was actually quite patient against the Browns, but got a bit anxious at times against the Packers.

Terrell Owens has said that he’ll make up for the Packers game, so expect Dallas to try and find him ways to get the ball. Usuallly Owens works at his best when he can get a few passes underneath setting himself up for the deep ball, but this year he’s been able to work the ball deep right away. Still, if the Skins go with the gameplan I think they will go with then he’ll probably have to get few passes underneath to force the Redskins defense to move up so Owens can blow past them. I also expect to see Washington cornerback Shawn Springs to be mainly responsible for covering Owens.

I also expect to see Jason Witten to see a lot of time at the regular TE spot and maybe some time as a lead blocker out of the backfield. Washington middle linebacker London Fletcher-Baker is quite good in coverage, but can struggle in taking on blockers, so lining Witten up out wide like a receiver probably isn’t the best way to attack the Skins.

Another key aspect of the game should be the play of the left guard, be it Corey Proctor or Montrae Holland. Kyle Kosier re-injured his foot and it appears Proctor will start although Wade Phillips said that Holland would see some time there. Proctor didn’t play well in the first half of the Eagles game, but came around nicely in the second half. The Skins have two solid defensive tackles, but the key part of the left guard play is Dallas has a big advantage at running to that side given the size difference between Dallas left tackle Flozell Adams and Washington defensive end Andre Carter. If the Cowboys can run at Carter with success, that pretty much takes him out of the game because he has to guard against going after Romo in fear of giving up yards against the run. That being said, Dallas has done a very good job of running to the right side of the O-Line so far.

Essentially if the Skins lay back on defense with a lot of Cover 2, the Cowboys will try to manhandle the Skins front 7 with hopes to bring in the defensive backs and then Dallas can take their chances deep.


From what I’ve seen from the Redskins it’s a very typical West Coast offense, with a lot of slants, drag routes and screens. The Cowboys have blitzed quite a bit which is normal for Wade Phillips with last week being the first time the pass rush really got to the QB.

While many feel guarding against Chris Cooley is the key to stopping the Washington defense, I’m far more concerned with Santana Moss who has been spectacular against the Cowboys as a Redskin. As a Redskin Moss has averaged 5.6 catches, 107 yards and 1.3 receiving TD’s per game against the Cowboys.

Moss has apparently increased his drag routes under Zorn and along with the WR screen that helps set himself up deep which is where he makes his living. I believe Parcells’ plan of sticking Newman on him works best, but I get the feeling that Wade will probably be content with putting either Newman or Adam Jones on Moss given their athleticism. Zorn may try to hit Moss with some slants in order to set up a double move of the slant n go pattern.

Last year the Redskins caught Dallas off guard by throwing the ball early an often, to the tune of 54 pass attempts by Jason Campbell. The Eagles had a lot of success throwing the ball against the Cowboys, but the Packers found themselves in trouble when they tried throwing the ball early. Zorn seems to be insistent on running the ball to take some of the pressure off of Campbell and I get the feeling it would be a risky move to try and throw the ball like they did last year, so I expect the Skins to use a more traditional style of attack.

Expect Dallas to attack the right side of the Redskins O-Line with right tackle Stephon Heyer being a game time decision and probably the weakest part of the Skins O-Line. We may see a lot of Ware over on that side and see both Spencer and either Ware or Ellis rush from that side on passing downs. A big key for the Skins will be how well they can play Jay Ratliff, who has terrorized centers so far and I don’t expect Casey Rabach to be all that more successful against him.


Ladell Betts is a good, consistent kickoff returner. He’s sort of akin to what Dallas has had over the years in that he’s probably not going to get a lot of huge returns or some TD’s, but he’ll get 25-50 yards most of the time. Antwaan Randle El still has a sense of danger to him, but he’s not the returner he once was. Durant Brooks has looked average as a punter and Shaun Suisham has been mediocre, which means he’ll make everything under the sun against the Cowboys. Overall, a solid special teams unit for the Redskins.


Obviously the Skins will be fired up for this game as they usually are. And if there’s a few things that scare me about this game is that Dallas has lost the turnover battle in each game so far while the Redskins have won the turnover battle in each game (and in fact, they lead the league in turnover margin). That’s a risky game to run after awhile.

And as I’ve stated in several posts before, for whatever reason the Dallas defense struggles at home. Under Romo the Dallas defense has allowed a 71 QB rating on the road, but an 86 QB rating at home. And this year the Cowboys have followed that trend by allowing a 77.7 QB rating on the road, but a 99 QB rating at home.

Still, I think last week showed that if Dallas can get out of its own way they can beat anybody. They certainly didn’t have their “A game” on offense and I don’t believe the defense was at its best either. Yet they still won the game and beat the Packers rather handily.

I think the Cowboys win this one by breaking away in the second half after a tough first half. Romo puts on a display as he’s ready for the Redskins to lay back on the defense and Barber makes up for his poor performance in last year’s week 17 game.


Redskins-Cowboys: Last Dance at Texas Stadium?

by Craig Garrison Sr

On Wednesday and Thursday we started an extended look into the upcoming NFC East showdown between the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys and the 2-1 Washington Redskins taking place for what is likely the "last dance" at Texas Stadium between the two.

This division could easily finish the season with the fourth place team boasting a remarkable 10-6 record. The Cowboys are the "class" of the NFC and the Redskins are a team on the rise.

For the Redskins to be in the hunt for a playoff spot in 2008, they likely need to win at least one road division game. Having already lost at Giant Stadium, to the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, this is a tough task for sure. Following this week's game, the Redskins will travel to Philadelphia for another critical divisional road game.

If the Redskins can come away from this two game road trip with at least one win, they stand a good chance of accomplishing Head Coach Jim Zorn's first postseason appearance. If they lose both, it will be difficult for the 'Skins to make it to the playoffs, despite still holding a strong opportinity for a winning season.

For the Cowboys, this game marks yet another step in their quest for NFC dominance. With a win they will solidify their hold on "the best team in the NFL" status and continue their march into the NFL postseason.

Today, we'll finish up this breakdown with a closer look at each team's defense and special teams and wrap up what it all means. As was already noted, the Redskins have won four of the last six meetings, but the Cowboys hold a 56-32-2 series edge.

The Cowboys have easily dominated the games overall, but in particular, they have been prevailed in games played at Texas Stadium. Winning 15 of the last 18 meetings played at Texas Stadium, the Cowboys have made it difficult for the Redskins to find success in Texas.

The Redskins have kept it close of late, however. The Cowboys' two wins in the last six meetings, with what is essentially the current roster, (both teams have had significant coaching changes in the last two seasons), were both at Texas Stadium. A 27-10 win in '06, and a 28-23 win in the '07 season.

Both teams come into the game featuring mixed messages defensively. The Cowboys are currently ranked ninth, and the Redskins are 13th in yards allowed. The Redskins hold the edge in allowed points per game, ranked ninth, while the Cowboys are 16th.

Each defense has faced quality offenses in at least two of their first three games. For the Cowboys, their oppnents included the Packers and Eagles, and for the 'Skins, their opponents were the Giants, Saints and Cardinals.

The Cowboys defense found it difficult to slow down the Eagles in the first half of their Week Two meeting, but played well in Green Bay in Week Three, holding the Packers to only 16 points.

The Redskins' defense hasn't allowed more than 17 points to any team this season, but are easily facing their biggest test this Sunday. Redskins' Defensive Coordinator, Greg Blache has used essentially three very different game plans in the Redskins' first three games.

Facing the Giants in Week One, Blache opted to play a very basic defense which prompted mixed results. Giants' running back Brandon Jacobs ran wild, compiling 116 yards on only 21 carries and wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught 10 passes for 133 yards. Most of Burress' damage came in the first half however, as he received only three catches for 35 yards in the second half.

Cowboys' defensive end DeMarcus Ware presents a significant challenge for the Redskins offensive line. Off to a good start to the season, Ware has three sacks and 13 tackles through three games. He is a force both as a pass rusher and in run defense, and his play on Sunday will be critical.

Ware has had success against Redskins' pro-bowl left tackle Chris Samuels, “His first year in the league, I pretty much won that match-up, but since then he has been tough on me,” Samuels said. “Last year, he beat me twice. I definitely have my work cut out for me.”

Cowboys' nose tackle Jat Ratliff may be a larger concern for the Redskins however, as they have been spotty in the interior of the offensive line. Ratliff has recorded a sack in each of the last two games, along with 10 tackles. He has provided the push in the middle that every 3-4 defense needs and has been stout against the run.

The Cowboys have rebuilt their defensive secondary for the 2008 season and have had mixed results thus far. With the acquisition of Adam Jones in the off-season and drafting cornerback Mike Jenkins, the Cowboys have one of the deepest secondaries in the league.

This depth has allowed them to use versatile Defensiveback Anthony Henry as a corner, a safety, and a rover, making plays all over the field. He recorded the the first two sacks of his career last week against the Packers. Redskins' Quarterback Jason Campbell will likely be paying close attention to Henry's pre-snap alignment thorugh out the game.

The Cowboys' defense has already recorded 10 sacks on the season, and pressure on the opposing quarterback is a critical part of their 3-4 defensive scheme. Linebackers Greg Ellis and Zach Thomas have contributed to the Cowboys pressure package, with three sacks between them.

The Redskins defense returns nine of 11 starters from last year, missing the late Safety Sean Taylor and Defensive End Phillip Daniels.

Second year player LaRon Landry took over Taylor's free safety position following last season's Week 11 loss to the Cowboys. In that game, Cowboys' wide out Terrell Owens exploded in the second half with three long touchdown catches of 31, 46 and 52 yards. Owens scored all the Cowboys points that day, and the Redskins obviously intend to slow down Owens on Sunday.

Landry has been used mostly as a deep safety, but Blache also has been using a defensive package he calls "cobra", commonly known around the league as "big nickel", this alignment feature three safeties, rather than three line backers in the traditional 4-3 alignment.

With the many weapons the Cowboys bring offensively, the Redskins are likely to be in this defensive formation often, Using Week Two's defensive player of the week, rookie Chris Horton, as the third safety.

The traditional "nickel" package will also be used often, as the Cowboys have shown a propensity to spread the field, with multiple receivers split wide. Last week against the Cardinals, Redskins' veteran cornerback Shawn Springs was used to shadow the big and physical Cardinals' receiver, Anquan Boldin, for most of the afternoon. The Redskins used this scheme effectively. Cardinals' quarterback Kurt Warner and their powerful aerial attack were largely held in check, with only one big play to receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the third quarter.

The Redskins may well use a similar approach against the potent Cowboys' offense. The Cowboys can easily counter however with a seemingly endless array of offensive weapons.

Rookie running back Felix Jones has been the home run hitter at tailback this season, a role that the Cowboys haven't had in many years. His success as kick returner adds to the Cowboys' ability to attack from every angle, making special teams plays key for both teams.

This game is certainly the marquee match-up in this weekend's slate of games. The NFC East is likely to provide three playoff teams again this season, and is the odds on favorite to also provide the NFC's representative in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl XLIII in February '09.

Many consider the Dallas Cowboys "unstoppable", some even suggesting they stand a good chance of being undefeated at the end of the regular season. The Cowboys are having none of that—Head Coach Wade Phillips seems to be doing an outstanding job keeping his players grounded, his players showed restraint in enjoying a big win at Green Bay last week, their first ever victory at Lambeau Field.

I thoroughly expect this game to be an exciting end to the era of Washington Redskins visits to Texas Stadium. There is the possiblity that the Redskins could make another trip there in the post season. The Redskins hope to close this era in style, handing the powerful Cowboys a painful loss.

Can the Redskins get it done? Will the Cowboys send the 'Skins packing with their tails between their legs?

One way or the other, let's hope this game lives up to the hype and offers us the same type of excitement we have come to expect when NFC East teams face each other.

Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys: The Next Step

by Craig Garrison Sr

Yesterday, we took our first look at the Redskins-Cowboys matchup. We noted that, despite the fact that this rivalry has long been dominated by the Cowboys (holding a 56-32-2 advantage), the Redskins hold the edge concerning the two teams' current rosters, winning four of the last six meetings.

In 2005, the Redskins obtained their first season sweep of the Cowboys since the '95 season, and the second meeting served to launch the Redskins into the playoffs, and knock the Cowboys out of the running for the postseason.

We also noted that these teams boast two of the league's 10 highest-rated quarterbacks in the Cowboys' Tony Romo and the Redskins' Jason Campbell, and two of the league's top 10 running backs in the Cowboys' Marion Barber and the Reskins' Clinton Portis.

Neither team has been able to run the ball particularly well over the last three years, and this statistic could easily come into play again on Sunday. Cowboys offensive coordinator

Jason Garrett has become known as a bit of a risk-taker as a play-caller, putting to use the passing skills of Romo and taking advantage of the talents of star wide receiver Terrell Owens and perhaps the best tight end in the game, Jason Witten.

A former quarterback, Garrett has been more balanced this year. Last season, the Cowboys threw the ball nearly 60 percent of the time. Through three games this season, the Cowboys are almost exactly at 50 percent, with 90 rushing plays to 93 passing plays. This fact will affect the way defenses play the Cowboys, and the Redskins will likely be no different.

The Redskins rookie head coach and primary play-caller, Jim Zorn, has also been quite balanced in his play-calling. Right at 50 percent pass, Zorn has shown dramatic improvement in his game-management skills since opening night, when he simply didn't seem to have a solid grasp of working with the flow of a regular season game.

The Cowboys' offense is currently No. 1 in total yards per game, and third in points scored per game. The Redskins are ranked 15th and 20th in in those categories, respectively.

Both teams also have receivers in the top 10 in receptions, total yards, yards per game (Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss and Witten), and receiving touchdowns (Owens and Moss).

Both teams also boast two of the game's best tight ends, Witten and the Redskins' Chris Cooley. These two make defenses play the entire field. Both are solid blockers, excellent route-runners, and have great hands. These two create matchup problems for opponents, and defensive answers seem to be hard to come by. Each player is in the league's top 10, but neither has seen the end zone this season.

Both teams boast solid offensive lines, as well. Both teams are in the league's top five in fewest sacks allowed, and top 12 in yards per rush. Simple statistics that speak to solid play along the offensive line.

Tomorrow, I'll take a look at the defenses each team brings into this game, and at the matchups each team may try to exploit.

The final installment in this closer look is "Redskins-Cowboys: Last Dance at Texas Stadium?"

Week 4 NFL picks: No rivalry better than Redskins-Cowboys

by Vinnie Iyer

College football prides itself on rivalry games, but the NFL has quite a few great ones of its own. Some are geographic and some develop through history, but they're all based on familiarity, and we all know what that breeds.

A countdown of the NFL's top five current rivalries:

5. Broncos-Raiders. The Chiefs against either of these teams is pretty darn good, too, but considering K.C. is not so good at the moment, we'll go with the one with the most bad blood. Denver has owned this matchup for as long as Mike Shanahan wanted to take it out on Al Davis, but there always is something spicy to watch here.

4. Cowboys-Giants. Any combination of teams in the NFC East provides a great rivalry game, because all four organizations are relentless in their pursuit of winning. But this one has heated up of late with the Giants as Super Bowl 42 champs and the Cowboys as Super Bowl 43 favorites.

3. Colts-Patriots. This is where we will miss Tom Brady the most, in what's become an annual duel of the AFC's elite. In past seasons, a top seed has been on the line -- this year, just getting into the playoffs might be in the balance.

2. Bears-Packers. Regional proximity and rich history make this one what it is. The small town from Wisconsin and its big-city Illinois neighbor to the south. Plus, you have to appreciate two blue-collar fan bases who are sustained by Sundays at Solider and Lambeau.

So that takes us to the NFL's No. 1 rivalry, which also happens to be:

The NFC Game of the Week

Washington at Dallas. There is no question that with certain events happening over in the AFC, America's Team has become the team to beat this season. But a Super Bowl run, of course, depends on Tony Romo finally being able to help the Cowboys get over their playoff-win drought in about four months. Until then, they should have no problems buzzing past offenses not nearly as loaded as theirs with a defense that's improved at closing.

As much as the spotlight is on Romo, the Cowboys need to make it more about Marion Barber, Felix Jones and their running game, led by their massive offensive linemen. It's sure fun and fantasy-friendly when Romo is throwing downfield spirals to Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Jason Witten, but this team is most impressive when it puts teams away with physical football.

The Cowboys will need to use plenty of Barber and Jones this week. The Redskins' new passing game under first-year coach Jim Zorn has found its stride, as Jason Campbell has looked good in executing it. Dallas can't afford to get into a shootout with another division archrival like it did in the near-loss to the Eagles. The Cowboys will be tempted to keep to the air without the pass-rushing threat of Jason Taylor, but instead they should pound the ball to the left side.

Once the Cowboys build a comfortable lead with a few strikes to Owens and Witten, Clinton Portis becomes less of a factor for the Redskins. Then the host can start to pound Barber, controlling the clock and keeping DeMarcus Ware and the defense fresh enough to tee off on Campbell in the second half. The Redskins will have their moments, as they always do against the 'Boys, but Barber will keep it from being a close shave. Cowboys 34, Redskins 20.

AFC Game of the Week

Baltimore at Pittsburgh. It hurts just to write about this game considering how much physical pain these teams will try to inflict on each other Monday night. The emotions will be high in prime time, and the hits will be hard. Both teams will of course come out trying to stonewall the run. Rookie Rashard Mendenhall will have tough sledding in his first start for the Steelers, while the Ravens' three-headed monster of Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain will find just as little room on the other side.

Passing won't be too much fun, either. The Ravens' 3-4 will get to Ben Roethlisberger often, and the Steelers' 3-4 will have just as many surprises for Baltimore rookie Joe Flacco. Give the slight edge to Roethlisberger's supporting cast at receiver and his experience. It also will probably take a big defensive play or two at home to get the win. Steelers 20, Ravens 16.

Old Men of the Week

Arizona at New York Jets. Kurt Warner, 37, and Brett Favre, 38, have each won multiple league MVP awards, won one Super Bowl and lost one Super Bowl. They're also similar in that they're confident gunslingers who love to throw deep. That sometimes leads to game-changing turnovers. Expect a fair share of big plays and mistakes with Favre playing a bit better to get his first home win in New York. Jets 23, Cardinals 20.

Desperation of the Week

Cleveland at Cincinnati. The Battle For Ohio has become the Battle Of Oh-and-3. Where have you gone, Paul Brown? Each team has been plagued by similar woes, due largely to poor play on their offensive and defensive lines. So the wash in the trenches will lead this matchup to where it usually goes -- the air. While the Browns are tinkering with replacing Derek Anderson with Dublin, Ohio, native Brady Quinn, notable non-Ohio State fan Carson Palmer will be the difference at home. Besides, we know USC usually beats Oregon State and Notre Dame. Bengals 27, Browns 24.

Shootout of the Week

San Francisco at New Orleans. First, top wideout Marques Colston went down. Now it's tight end Jeremy Shockey. Still, as long as the Saints have Drew Brees and Reggie Bush, they will remain explosive offensively. The big surprise is how Mike Martz has turned a deep-sixed Niners offense into a potential top-10 unit. J.T. O'Sullivan has found a groove, and this week he faces the team that originally drafted him in the sixth round six years ago. Based on recent history, Bush's team will eke out a victory over Gore -- Frank, that is. Saints 31, 49ers 27.

Lock of the Week

Denver over Kansas City. While the Broncos seem to have finally found the quarterback who can take the torch from John Elway, the Chiefs have already put four men at QB this season, and three of them have been banged up. Jay Cutler has come out on fire, thanks to help from pass-catchers Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler. K.C. also has some receiving weapons that could give a shaky Denver defense fits in Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez. Unfortunately, whether it's unproven Tyler Thigpen or grizzled Damon Huard, the Chiefs won't be able to keep up in this potential shootout. Broncos 38, Chiefs 27.

Upset of the Week

Green Bay at Tampa Bay. Remember when Favre was pretty darn close to becoming a Buccaneer? Even though that didn't happen, this is still an interesting game, with Aaron Rodgers vs. Brian Griese in a duel of NFC division winners from last season, both of which are 2-1 this season. Jon Gruden is always looking for his next Rich Gannon, and Griese gets his second chance at it this week. Both defenses are built to not give up big plays, but eventually a long run or a deep connection will make the difference. With the home-run threats of Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, Rodgers is better equipped to deliver. Packers 23, Buccaneers 20.

Rest of the Week

Atlanta at Carolina. Expect an up-and-down rookie season for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan as long he draws inferior defenses at home and tougher all-around teams on the road. It also won't be easy for Michael Turner to cut through the Panthers' front seven. Also, look for the Jake Delhomme-Steve Smith connection to come up big in a home division game. Panthers 23, Falcons 13.

Buffalo at St. Louis. Don't be fooled by that old-school helmet with the stationary Buffalo -- this young team is charging and has a real shot to displace the Patriots as AFC East champs. Trent Edwards is playing like a Pro Bowler in his second year, and with their offense, defense and special teams, the Bills can beat you in many ways, even when they're down in the fourth quarter. The Rams are desperately turning to their own Trent -- Green -- at quarterback, but they are an all-around bad team. Bills 30, Rams 17.

Houston at Jacksonville. The Jags perhaps saved their season with that last-minute rally in the new house of their AFC South rival, the Indianapolis Colts. Now they need a dominant performance against a much weaker division foe to really turn the corner. Now that the necessary adjustments have been made to get Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and the running game on track, they should run all over the Texans, and pull away with a few takeaways from Matt Schaub. Jaguars 27, Texans 10.

Minnesota at Tennessee. Both teams are relying on old, well-traveled quarterbacks, electric running games and physical front-seven play to win games. The difference is the pass rush and secondary. The Vikes have some playmakers such as Jared Allen, Darren Sharper and Antoine Winfield, but the Titans are a few notches better with Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bulluck, Michael Griffin and Cortland Finnegan. Titans 24, Vikings 13.

San Diego at Oakland. In a twist, Lane Kiffin is trying to keep his job by proving the Raiders can be effective with a run-heavy, Martyball-type approach, while former Raiders coach Norv Turner has unleashed a great downfield passing game with Philip Rivers. The problem is, if the rushing attack doesn't work for Silver and Black, they'll need to lean on young JaMarcus Russell. If the Bolts have trouble passing, they can just give the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson. Chargers 42, Raiders 17.

Philadelphia at Chicago. While former Mt. Carmel QB Donovan McNabb was rumored to be returning to the Windy City early in the offseason, he instead just visits on a Sunday night. The Eagles look ready to soar alongside the Cowboys and Giants again in the NFC East, and their defense should dominate a limited offense from the NFC North. With Brian Westbrook banged up, however, it won't be easy against Brian Urlacher and friends. Eagles 13, Bears 10.

Byes of the Week

The 3-0 Giants have picked up where they left off in Super Bowl 42, as Eli Manning has stayed sharp, the running game has been very productive and the sack machine has kept on rolling without Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. They won't be fazed much by the Plaxico Burress reprimand and one-game suspension, either. ...

The 1-2 Dolphins are likely to drive more teams nuts than just their rivals in Foxborough. With a deep power backfield in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, an underrated line and a careful caretaker quarterback, they will find a way to stay in most of their games. ...

The 2-1 Patriots don't have a long offseason to think about their first loss of this season. They need to make some big adjustments to hold up better defensively, all while working on scoring more points with Matt Cassel at the helm. In the Bill Belichick era, the team has prided itself on being able to replace anybody, but Tom Brady is simply irreplaceable. ...

The 1-2 Colts are off to an even slower start with Peyton Manning coming off his own knee injury and were dealt a big blow in losing the quarterback of their defense, Bob Sanders, for 4-5 games. At least Manning and Sanders, unlike Brady, can come back healthy this season. ...

No team needed a bye more than the 1-2 Seahawks. They will look like a completely different offense when they travel cross-country to play those Giants next week, with Bobby Engram, Deion Branch and Maurice Morris all set to return. Not needing to cover Burress is also a big break in that game. ...

OK, maybe the 0-3 Lions needed the bye a little bit more just to forget about their miserable start. The Matt Millen move was long overdue. I don't envy the next person in charge of overhaul in Detroit.

Stats of the Week

Week 3 straight up: 10-6
Season-to-date straight up: 32-15

DMN Blog: Dallas Cowboys' Tank Johnson says he's ready to roll Sunday

By CALVIN WATKINS / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – Tank Johnson stood on the practice field Friday and started hopping up and down. If his ankle injury still bothered him, you couldn't tell.

The Cowboys' backup nose tackle has been limited in practice this week because of the injury. Johnson didn't practice Thursday, and when he arrived Friday, "He gave me the thumbs up," coach Wade Phillips said.

Johnson also was limited in practice Friday, but he's expected to play Sunday against Washington.

"It's just one of those deals where I needed a little bit of rest," Johnson said. "I feel a lot healthier than I did [Thursday]. I'll be my normal physical self."

The Cowboys had defensive end Marcus Spears work at nose tackle this week as a precaution. Spears said he isn't sure if he will play inside against the Redskins. "It all depends on Tank," he said.

Hurd in, Stanback out? Receiver Sam Hurd, who suffered a preseason ankle injury, is expected to play his first game of the season Sunday.

The Cowboys normally do not dress five receivers for a game. If Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd all dress, Isaiah Stanback could be inactive.

If Stanback doesn't play, rookie Orlando Scandrick could take Stanback's place alongside Felix Jones on kickoff returns. Stanback was inactive the last six games last season, including the playoff loss to the New York Giants.

"You can't suit everybody up," Phillips said. "But at least we get enough healthy guys that we have to make some decisions. So that's a good thing."

The Cowboys will dress all three tight ends, Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and Tony Curtis. With injured fullback Deon Anderson (knee) still out, Curtis again will occasionally line up as a fullback.

Watching Moss: Redskins receiver Santana Moss had 17 catches in two games against the Cowboys last season. Moss may draw an occasional double-team, but cornerback Terence Newman said the defense won't have someone following Moss all over Texas Stadium.

"There have been limited times when somebody shadowed somebody here," Newman said. "The way this defense works, you line up on your side and play."

Williams update: Injured safety Roy Williams has been rehabilitating his broken right forearm and is on pace to return by mid-October. Phillips said Williams did some light running Thursday.

Williams suffered the injury against Philadelphia on Sept. 15 and had a metal plate inserted into his arm the following day. At the time, Williams was expected to miss three to four weeks.

Jansen likely to start vs. Dallas

Heyer limited by shoulder
Published September 27, 2008
from Hometown Annapolis

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Washington Redskins right tackle Jon Jansen appears set to start tomorrow's game against the Dallas Cowboys after Stephon Heyer was limited in practice yesterday with a sprained shoulder.

"Right now it looks like Jansen is the guy for us," coach Jim Zorn said.

Heyer sprained his left shoulder in the second quarter of last week's 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He returned to play the second half but has been sore all week and is listed as questionable on the injury report.

Heyer, a second-year player, won the starting job over longtime veteran Jansen in one of the surprises of preseason. Jansen said he felt he had something to prove during the dozen or so snaps he played when subbing for Heyer against the Cardinals.

"I would be lying if I said it wasn't in the back of my mind," Jansen said. "I wanted to prove to everybody that has seen me play football for the past 10 years that I'm not old, I'm not washed up, I can still play, and I can still play with the best of them."

Linebacker Marcus Washington (hamstring) was also limited in practice and will be a gametime decision, according to Zorn. Cornerback Fred Smoot (hip) and fullback Mike Sellers (thigh) took part in the full practice and are expected to play.

Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery was excused from practice for personal reasons, but is expected to play tomorrow.

Defensive end Jason Taylor (leg) and receiver Malcolm Kelly (ankle) have been ruled out for the game.

Rushin' roulette

Cowboys' Barber, Jones bring mix of power, speed
Saturday, Sep 27, 2008

IRVING, Texas When a four-year starter leaves and his backup takes over, there's supposed to be lots of angst and questions, even more when the team seems to hedge its bets by spending its top pick on a guy who plays the same position.

Well, usually. The way things have gone with the Dallas Cowboys, making Marion Barber their featured runner is among the exceptions.

Barber backed up Julius Jones (Big Stone Gap) the past several years, but the understudy was the star. Two years ago, "Marion the Barbarian" led the conference in rushing touchdowns; last year, he made the Pro Bowl. By season's end, Jones was the starter in name only, and it was no surprise the Cowboys let him leave as a free agent.

The transition actually started in the playoffs, when Dallas let Barber start. He ran for 129 yards, which made management so giddy that he got a $45 million contract extension before training camp. In between, the Cowboys took Felix Jones with the 22nd overall pick, but it was only to pair his speed with Barber's power, not to have a just-in-case starter.

So far, it's all worked out perfectly.

Barber is coming off a 28-carry, 142-yard performance last Sunday that went a long way toward helping the Cowboys win at Green Bay. On a night when Tony Romo wasn't at his best, and the Packers throttled Terrell Owens, Dallas wore down the defense by giving the ball to Barber.

"I think he demoralizes the other team in a lot of ways," coach Wade Phillips said. "He keeps pounding and keeps going and, all of a sudden, he's busting out of there for 10, 12, 15 yards, or he is making a 1-yard run into an 8-yard run."

Or, he leaves the defense vulnerable to the change of pace when Jones gets his turn.

It happened in the opener, when Barber hurt his ribs and Jones zipped through a hole for an 11-yard touchdown on the first carry of his career. He showed his speed the following week with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, then burned the Packers on a 60-yard touchdown run. Even with the nice blocking that helped clear his path, defenses might've gotten to Barber. They had no chance of catching Jones.

Behind this 1-2 punch, the Cowboys are averaging 150.7 yards rushing per game. With a passing attack that's also clicking, it's no wonder the Cowboys are 3-0 and lead the NFL in total yards, placing second in points scored.

"You're lucky to have the ability to have guys who take the pressure off you at every position," Romo said. "The wide receiver is lucky to have a good offensive line because he has the ability to get downfield on different routes. The tight end is lucky to have a wide receiver that takes the coverage off of them. I'm lucky enough to have all of them. We're lucky in that sense. I think that's something we all appreciate and understand. We don't take it for granted."

While waiting for his contract extension to be worked out, Barber was with agent Drew Rosenhaus in Miami. Owens has the same agent, and he saw how hard Barber was training.

"He prepared himself for the role that he possesses now," Owens said.

Friday, September 26, 2008

NFL Week 4 Preview and Predictions (Redskins-Cowboys only)

NFL Week 4 Preview and Predictions
Posted by Eric G

So far I think it is safe to say that the NFL season has been a fun one. There seems to be more offense early in the season than usual. Power has shifted from the AFC to the NFC. There have been several close games, including several overtime games. The season thus far is a great one.

It is hard not to rank the Dallas Cowboys as the best team in the league. The Cowboys have had one of the toughest opening schedules in the league. The Cowboys are not only 3-0, but a dominant 3-0. The Cowboys look like the real deal.

As much as I hate the Cowboys, I respect their play during the first three weeks. To soundly defeat Green Bay in Green Bay on a short week after playing Philadelphia is very impressive. The problem is that September hasn’t been this team’s problem. Let me see the Cowboys do this in December before I take them too seriously.

The Giants have been equally impressive. I wrote last week that I thought the Bengals game would be tough. I am still not convinced about Eli Manning. I think Eli has gotten some good breaks the last few weeks. I know he won the Super Bowl, but man does he put it up in bad places.

The Titans have to be the biggest joke of a 3-0 team that I have ever seen. I just can’t buy Kerry Collins doing anything special in January. The Titans may have the best defense in the league, but their lack of depth at receiver is going to hurt them as the season goes on. If the Titans can get a quarterback next season, they are young enough to contend for the next few seasons.

The Broncos are the real deal. The Broncos look flat out dangerous. It looks like the Broncos will be the high-powered team that Indianapolis has been for the last few seasons. Cutler has some great weapons and looks like he can put up points at will. I had a feeling Cutler would have a great year, but this is just ridiculous.

I think the Chargers that played on Monday are the real San Diego Chargers. While winless for the first two weeks, the Chargers could have easily been undefeated. L.T.’s toe is going to get better, and a healthy Sproles and Tomlinson out there will give defenses fits all season long. The defense will be a question to me until they can do it consistently.

Who are the real Cincinnati Bengals? I can’t believe that Carson Palmer will play this badly all season. The offense just has too many great players to play this bad for much longer. Palmer looks like he may have turned it around. Palmer had some big games against the Browns last season. The Browns may be the team he needs to turn it around for good this season.

On paper there is only one standout match this weekend. The Cowboys and Redskins will renew their rivalry for the first time since that embarrassing blowout by Washington last December. The thing you have to remember here is no matter how good or bad either team is, they always have at least one close game per season.

I would imagine that Cowboy fans are still scarred from last season’s beating. Not only did the Redskins beat the Cowboys, they destroyed them. The final score was 27-6 and the Cowboys offense was putrid that day. The starters only played a half, but the half was a sign of things to come in January.

Jason Campbell was on fire last week against Arizona. I would argue that Arizona’s secondary is slightly better than Dallas’. Clinton Portis has looked consistent all season. The Redskins hit on all cylinders last week against a very good Arizona team. Take the opener out of the equation, and Washington has looked surprisingly good.

If it wasn’t for last year’s game, I’d pick this one to be a tighter game. I think the loss still lingers and this is a big revenge game for the Cowboys. I think the Cowboys go 4-0 and win big on Sunday. The Cowboys need to get up early and take away the Washington running game. I think Washington wins their next meeting, but this one is all Cowboys.

So far I think it is safe to say that the NFL season has been a fun one. There seems to be more offense early in the season than usual. Power has shifted from the AFC to the NFC. There have been several close games, including several overtime games. The season thus far is a great one.

It is hard not to rank the Dallas Cowboys as the best team in the league. The Cowboys have had one of the toughest opening schedules in the league. The Cowboys are not only 3-0, but a dominant 3-0. The Cowboys look like the real deal.

As much as I hate the Cowboys, I respect their play during the first three weeks. To soundly defeat Green Bay in Green Bay on a short week after playing Philadelphia is very impressive. The problem is that September hasn’t been this team’s problem. Let me see the Cowboys do this in December before I take them too seriously.

The Giants have been equally impressive. I wrote last week that I thought the Bengals game would be tough. I am still not convinced about Eli Manning. I think Eli has gotten some good breaks the last few weeks. I know he won the Super Bowl, but man does he put it up in bad places.

The Titans have to be the biggest joke of a 3-0 team that I have ever seen. I just can’t buy Kerry Collins doing anything special in January. The Titans may have the best defense in the league, but their lack of depth at receiver is going to hurt them as the season goes on. If the Titans can get a quarterback next season, they are young enough to contend for the next few seasons.

The Broncos are the real deal. The Broncos look flat out dangerous. It looks like the Broncos will be the high-powered team that Indianapolis has been for the last few seasons. Cutler has some great weapons and looks like he can put up points at will. I had a feeling Cutler would have a great year, but this is just ridiculous.

I think the Chargers that played on Monday are the real San Diego Chargers. While winless for the first two weeks, the Chargers could have easily been undefeated. L.T.’s toe is going to get better, and a healthy Sproles and Tomlinson out there will give defenses fits all season long. The defense will be a question to me until they can do it consistently.

Who are the real Cincinnati Bengals? I can’t believe that Carson Palmer will play this badly all season. The offense just has too many great players to play this bad for much longer. Palmer looks like he may have turned it around. Palmer had some big games against the Browns last season. The Browns may be the team he needs to turn it around for good this season.

On paper there is only one standout match this weekend. The Cowboys and Redskins will renew their rivalry for the first time since that embarrassing blowout by Washington last December. The thing you have to remember here is no matter how good or bad either team is, they always have at least one close game per season.

I would imagine that Cowboy fans are still scarred from last season’s beating. Not only did the Redskins beat the Cowboys, they destroyed them. The final score was 27-6 and the Cowboys offense was putrid that day. The starters only played a half, but the half was a sign of things to come in January.

Jason Campbell was on fire last week against Arizona. I would argue that Arizona’s secondary is slightly better than Dallas’. Clinton Portis has looked consistent all season. The Redskins hit on all cylinders last week against a very good Arizona team. Take the opener out of the equation, and Washington has looked surprisingly good.

If it wasn’t for last year’s game, I’d pick this one to be a tighter game. I think the loss still lingers and this is a big revenge game for the Cowboys. I think the Cowboys go 4-0 and win big on Sunday. The Cowboys need to get up early and take away the Washington running game. I think Washington wins their next meeting, but this one is all Cowboys.

Redskins-Cowboys Preview

The Redskins go into Dallas with a game they actually don’t have to win. Read that again. Against the biggest rivals in Redskins history all we actually need is a nice effort and some consistency again from the offensive and defensive units. At 2-1, the Redskins are decently positioned to make a run at the playoffs even if we fall to 2-2.

That we would ever get to this point seemed practically unthinkable three weeks ago when the Giants absolutely tarred and feathered the Redskins making their offensive look juvenile and brittle in the process.

The ‘Skins’ have come back though with two gritty efforts in the 4th quarter while being tied at home and in the Saints game, down by 9. This has been created through Jason Campbell playing incredibly sharp in the 4th as in the last two games he seemingly has made every correct play. Santana Moss has also played the 4th with the energy of someone who hasn’t played three quarters of football, as against the Saints and the Cardinals he scored the game winning touchdown. Yes it is official; Santana officially has his wheels back!

More importantly then even the play of Jason Campbell and Santana Moss has been the fact the Redskins have done nothing. That’s right nothing, or to put it differently, zero. Through three games the Redskins have given up zero,… yes zero points to opponents in the 4th. Zero is also the number of interceptions Jason Campbell has thrown this year. Not bad for a guy who folks last year rightfully said wilted under pressure last year.

As Campbell has beaten back his detractors, so has Redskins coach Jim Zorn. After looking overmatched coaching in his first game against the Giants, the Redskins have abated any sense that Jim Zorn isn’t ready. Against the Cardinals, Zorn made some calls that to be honest, would not have been made by the great Joe Gibbs. Gibbs at least in the last two seasons may have played things too conservatively to try to pass the ball on a situation like 3rd and 2 with the Redskins needing a first-down to seal a game. (which they did through a quick slant pass to Santana Moss.) Again last week, the Redskins held the ball on a 2nd and 7 late in the 4th and needed a first down to win against the Cardinals who had no timeouts. Conventional wisdom again would say that the Skins should have run. Zorn did not, instead calling a bootleg pass from Campbell to tight-end Chris Cooley that gained 22 yards and ended the game.

Not only did those call from Zorn turn out to be great, but by letting Campbell have control of the game late in the 4th, it seems like Zorn is doing exactly what Campbell implored him to do after the first game when he told to the coach to, “trust me.”

Unfortunately, we may need to end this love fest right here as Dallas very well may be the best team in the league. Terrell Owens may be cocky, but there is some truth to his statement this week that for now, “other teams really can’t stop us,” as the Cowboys currently have the number one ranked offense in the league.

The Cowboys defense on the other hand has hardly looked indestructible, giving up over 30 points to the Eagles. Still, in deference to John Madden, you obviously can’t beat a team you don’t outscore, and this Dallas offense looks to have more weapons than the Montana militia.

Want to double team Terrell Owens? Dallas tight end Jason Witten will simply burn you with quick passes to the flat. Put more men in the box to stop the powerful Marion Barber? Well, don’t be surprised if Tony Romo burns you deep. As Jason La Confora told me, the key to beating or at least remaining competitive with the Cowboys will be to limit their big plays. That may be tough with Linebacker Jason Taylor out, but if the Skins can make the Cowboys work slow and methodically down the field, they do have a shot to pull one out. Just don’t be surprised or that disappointed if they don’t, which pains me greatly to say during Dallas week.

Still, at least recently the Skins have stepped up to the plate against the Cowboys, and guys like Clinton Portis know exactly how big this game is. “You hear it all the time, no matter what happens in the season, just beat Dallas. That’s our Super Bowl.”

Skins fan can take heed. Dallas may be our Super Bowl as fans, but Portis told reporters that the Redskins intend to play in the real Super Bowl, a game that certainly doesn’t take place in week 4. With that mentality, anything is possible here. As Terrell Owens has said before, “sit back and get the popcorn out!”

Hot Air: Former Dallas Cowboys coach loves Marion Barber

by Barry Horn:

From his seat on the Fox pre-game set, Jimmy Johnson has been closely watching Dallas Cowboys games this season and he has fallen head-over-heels in love with a member of the organization.

Johnson's straw that's stirring the 3-0 drink isn't Tony Romo or Terrell Owens or Jason Witten. It isn't DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman or Jay Ratliff, the suddenly chic pick on the defensive line.

It's not Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett or Jerry Jones.

Johnson's guy is ... Marion Barber.

It's probably the old ball coach in Johnson. Deep down, most football coaches are channeling Woody Hayes. They love the clock-eating, ball-control offenses that a solid running game brings.

"Offenses love Barber," Johnson said over the phone this week from his home in the Florida Keys. "Opposing defenses hate him."

Then he mentioned Owens and Witten and reasoned they can be considered supporting acts.

"The Cowboys can beat you 17-7 without them and with Marion Barber," Johnson said. "It may be a boring game and not as fun to watch, but in the end winning is really the most fun."

Johnson also had only nice things to say about Romo.

"I like his approach," Johnson said. "He is a playmaker. I wouldn't mess with that. But I would sit down and have sessions with him to make sure he stays focused."

Johnson believes that not getting drafted and being forced to sit and watch for 3½ seasons has served Romo well. "He came up the hard way and that keeps him in check. Just like our 1-15 season kept us in check…Players who are stars all their lives and face little adversity sometimes aren't as hungry."

Johnson remained reluctant to compare the Super Bowl Cowboys of the 1990s to Wade Phillips' team. "But I'll say they have as much talents as anybody in the league and we probably had as much talent as anybody in the league although I did think San Francisco had more talent that first year (1992 season) we won the Super Bowl but the next year we were better."

Johnson has a special interest in one Cowboy. Johnson and linebacker Zach Thomas arrived in Miami together in 1996.

"I have a helmet in my weight room from Zach that says, "Thanks for making my dream come true and taking a chance on a little white boy from Texas."' Johnson said. "He's my guy. If you protect him, he will make plays."

But Johnson is not ready to hand the Cowboys a pass to the Super Bowl and the Vince Lombardi trophy.

"They have their work cut out for them," he said. "I picked the Cowboys to be Philadelphia but if the game had been in Philadelphia, I would have picked the Eagles. And we all saw what the Giants did last season.

"Football can be a funny game," Johnson said. "A year ago everybody was talking about the dominance of the AFC. Now look at it. They are playing the best football in the NFL in the NFC East…The Cowboys are well-coached. They are very talented. They just have to keep focused and not get too happy with themselves."

• • •

The Cowboys return to Fox on Sunday, which means Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the game. It's not quite a national telecast but it is just about as close as Fox can come on a Sunday afternoon. It is Fox's only late afternoon game and is scheduled to go to 96 percents of the country. CBS has a pair of 3 p.m. games – Bills at Rams and Chargers at Raiders – that will keep the Cowboys-Redskins out of St. Louis and the Bay Area.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

AccuScore Game Forecasts: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys


Washington has won two games in a row, but they are expected to struggle defensively against Dallas. They allowed over 115 yards to Arizona, whose running offense is not nearly as potent as the combo of Marion Barber and Felix Jones. The ESPN AccuScore Custom Game Simulator indicates there is a 20 percent chance that Barber has over 100 rushing yards and Felix Jones has over 50 rushing yards in the game. The average score in these simulations is Dallas 39, Washington 16. It will not be easy, but Washington needs to have Clinton Portis run for over 100 yards and the defense needs to intercept Tony Romo at least once while sacking him 3 or more times. With Jason Taylor out with injury this only happens in 4.5 percent of the time, but the game is dead-even with both teams winning 50 percent.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Don't doubt them Cowboys: Dallas gets better with age

By Charley Casserly
CBS Sports

Last year the Dallas Cowboys ended the season with a 13-3 record and were the favorites to go to the Super Bowl. They defeated the New York Giants twice in the regular season and had home-field advantage for the playoffs. Another win over the Giants and then a rematch at home against a Green Bay Packers team they had already beaten earlier in the season was all that prevented them from going to the Super Bowl.

We all know what happened. Dallas lost to the Giants and was eliminated from the playoffs.

This season's Cowboys are better equipped to handle the playoffs. It starts with the coaching staff having a better understanding of the players. This allows them to use their personnel to the best of their ability.

Much has been said about Tony Romo's mistakes in the past two playoffs. We have to remember he is only in his third year as a starting quarterback in the NFL. His style is that of a gunslinger at times, but in talking to him during the past two years at training camp, I see a young quarterback who is gaining experience.

Romo talks about being more patient in the pocket, not sliding up into the protection in front of him or forcing the ball into coverage, and working to get the ball to the secondary receivers.

Also, Jason Garrett is in his second year as an offensive coordinator. That is huge for the Cowboys. Garrett did a good job last year and will only get better.

The Cowboys are significantly better at running back. Marion Barber seems improved over last year and Felix Jones is an upgrade over Julius Jones. When Julius Jones came out of college, he was taken in the second round and most people did not have him rated that high.

Felix Jones, however, was rated by most people to be a first-round or early second-round pick, mainly because of his speed. The Cowboys have to be careful not to overuse Jones. He will best be used the way they are using him now, as a kick returner and a change-of-pace back. They do need to use him to take the load off Barber, whom you have to keep fresh for late in the season.

With the combination of Garrett, Romo and an improved running back situation, the Cowboys offense should be better late in the season and in the playoffs.

The defensive line is improved because the players are a year older and more experienced. This is a young group which will continue to improve even as the season progresses. Their best defensive linemen right now is nose tackle Jay Ratliff. He is quick and explosive with a high motor. This group does not have a dominating player, but its depth is its strength.

At linebacker, two aspects stick out. The first is DeMarcus Ware. He is the type of player who can take over a game when it counts, as well as someone you build your game plan around. His play at outside linebacker also makes everyone around him better because of the attention opposing offenses give him. The Cowboys do a good job of moving him around to make it harder for the offense to block him.

The other linebacker who has impressed me is Zach Thomas. He still has the ability to make plays in the running game, plus I think his work ethic is a great example for other players. I think he will be an asset in the playoffs, meeting rooms and locker room.

The other area the Cowboys have improved is cornerback. Adam Jones should continue to get better as the season goes forward. He is a little rusty. He was never technically sound, so to learn a new system after being out for a year is going to hurt him early in the season. He should be much better late in the season than he is now. Also the two rookie corners, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have been good additions to a secondary that was lacking at cornerback last year.

Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, who is a bright young coach, has a staff that he is more familiar with than last year and he also knows his players better in his second year as defensive coordinator. I expect the Cowboys to better on defense this year.

Sometimes, a team has to experience a tough loss in the playoffs to understand what it takes to win in the playoffs. I think this where the Cowboys are this year. The only issue that bothers me is the number of penalties the Cowboys accumulate. They must overcome this problem to win in the playoffs.

Cowboys' Witten busy on field and off


Cowboys tight end Jason Witten spent part of his off day Tuesday with the Texas Council on Family Violence, showing support for the organization and helping make sure folks are aware that October is Domestic Violence Month.

"Talk to your children, neighbors and friends about healthy relationships," Witten says in a public service announcement. "Show your strength. Speak out about domestic violence."

For his work, Witten collected $100,000 from the Allstate Foundation for his SCORE foundation, an initiative to help Texas families in crisis.

"We're able to start the Scorekeepers program which the male mentors will go into these different shelters and (I'm) excited to say we have five up and running today across Texas," Witten says.

Witten, the leading receiver on the Cowboys after three games, says he witnessed first hand, the verbal abuse his father inflicted on his family.

"My grandfather came in and we moved in with him, he was a high school football coach, obviously I made so much more of my life then I ever thought I could," Witten says, "(he) just taught me how to be a man."

For Witten it was a very busy day off. He went from providing opportunity for Freedom from domestic violence, to here to the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas where he helped build a playground to provide a safe place for kids to play.

"It is across the league," Witten says. "I think they picked twenty guys to do it, I'm just thankful they picked me. I'm very appreciative of them; give a donation to my foundation from Home Depot to be a part of it."

And by showing that he can also be a handyman may eventually change things around the Witten house.

"No excuses," says his wife, Michelle. "I feel this spring that Jason can build his own playground for his two boys without a doubt."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Power Rankings: NFC East now domination central

By Pete Prisco Sports Writer

In the South where I live, the local college-football-is-religion fans always prop up the Southeastern Conference, extolling the power of the league. Rightfully so. The SEC is the king of college football this year, with four teams in the top 10.

We expect that kind of power from a college conference. We don't from one division in the NFL.

But after three weeks of the NFL season, the NFC East is a combined 10-2, the only two losses coming to division teams. They are undefeated against the rest of the NFL.

Power, baby, power.

The division features the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the best team in football right now in the Dallas Cowboys, a Philadelphia Eagles team that nearly upset the Cowboys on the road last Monday night and a Washington Redskins team that has won two straight behind a quarterback who seems to have arrived.

In putting together the Power Rankings this week, the thing that stands out is how top heavy it is with the NFC East. The Cowboys remain atop the rankings after going to Green Bay and beating up a good Packers team.

The Giants, who escaped with an overtime victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, are second. The Eagles are in the fifth spot. The Redskins, whose only loss came to the Giants, are in the 12th spot.

We expected the division to be tough, but this good?

Right now it would be hard to argue against an NFC East team playing in the Super Bowl -- unless they beat the daylights out of each other.

With only two games between the teams so far, it means we have plenty of division wars left to come. Will the team that wins the division be a group of battled-tested warriors or a beaten-up, punch-drunk champ who just happened to be the last team standing?

The way the Cowboys are going, it might be the former. They have an offense that can't be stopped and a defense that showed signs of coming to life against the Packers.

The NFC East is the SEC of the NFL.

How y'all like them rigors of the NFC East?

The Power Rankings after Week 3:

Power Rankings Current Team Previous
1 Cowboys · Trends 1
Can anybody stop that offense? They can pound it with Marion Barber, unleash a speed back in Felix Jones and throw it all over the place with Tony Romo. They are clearly the best team right now.

2 Giants · Trends 2
They got a scare against the Bengals, but that's what good teams do, find a way to win. The pass defense had some issues against Cincinnati that have to be fixed before they get into those wars with Dallas.

3 Titans · Trends 5
As of right now, they are the best team in the AFC. The defense is suffocating and Kerry Collins is an upgrade at quarterback and gives them a better passing attack.

4 Broncos · Trends 7
At 3-0 they're playing great on offense. But they have to be concerned about stopping teams. They can't keep winning with that porous defense.

5 Eagles · Trends 12
They're darn near perfect, except for the tough loss at Dallas. The defense bounced back in a big way in shutting down the Steelers. They looked like they had 13 men on the field.

6 Bills · Trends 10
They're 3-0. Who would have thought that? Is there any doubt now they are the team to beat in the AFC East?

7 Packers · Trends 4
The defense got pushed around by the Cowboys, which is not a good sign. They have to tackle better. The offense didn't run the ball, either. If Al Harris is gone for the season, that will be a damning blow.

8 Steelers · Trends 3
Can Ben Roethlisberger make it through the season? The line took a major step back against the Eagles, and that has to be a concern.

9 Ravens · Trends 17
Joe Flacco is 2-0. He can thank the defense. They have looked like the old Ravens defense, shutting down two good offenses in two weeks.

10 Panthers · Trends 6
They get their first division game this week against the Atlanta Falcons. The loss to the Vikings showed that a running game alone can't carry the team all the time. They have to throw it better.

11 Buccaneers · Trends 19
Brian Griese threw 67 passes and they won? At 2-1, they face a stiff test this week from the Green Bay Packers.

12 Redskins · Trends 23
Jason Campbell looks so comfortable in the pocket. Has he arrived? It looks like it. We'll see against Dallas on the road this week.

13 Patriots · Trends 8
They get a week off to stew about their loss to the Dolphins. How insufferable will Bill Belichick be now?

14 Cardinals · Trends 11
I can hear it already. They're the same old Cardinals. With a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter against the Redskins, a tipped pass turned into a game-changing pick. Bad luck. Typical Cardinals luck?

15 Jaguars · Trends 18
They did what they do best against the Colts, which is run it and run it some more. The passing game still isn't there.

16 Colts · Trends 9
They have major injury issues and it shows. They aren't the same team. It might be a month or so before they are.

17 Chargers · Trends 15
They showed what they are capable of Monday night in beating the Jets. There still are some concerns, though, about the defense. Philip Rivers is carrying the offense right now.

18 49ers · Trends 20
It's easy on J.T. O'Sullivan when Frank Gore runs for 130 yards. He's now 2-1 as a starter. Mike Martz could make me a capable passer.

19 Falcons · Trends 25
Mike Smith has the Falcons at 2-1. How? Playing good defense and running Michael Turner. That's the plan.

20 Saints · Trends 13
They should have cut Martin Gramatica on the plane home. How can he miss that field goal? The defense isn't good right now.

21 Bears · Trends 14
They could easily be 3-0 if they hadn't blown two fourth-quarter leads. That's the type of thing that happens when you can't pass it well enough to score a lot of points.

22 Seahawks · Trends 24
Nothing like the St. Louis Rams to help turn your season around. The Seahawks still have major injury questions.

23 Vikings · Trends 22
The move to Gus Frerotte paid off against Carolina. But let's see how he does against that nasty Tennessee defense.

24 Jets · Trends 16
They went into a tough spot against a team with its season on the line against San Diego. But at 1-2, two games behind the Buffalo Bills in the division, they sure don't have the look of a playoff team.

25 Dolphins · Trends 32
Who thought they had a road victory over the Patriots in them? Credit Tony Sparano and his staff for keeping this young team focused. Chad Henne can wait now.

26 Texans · Trends 27
Matt Schaub isn't playing well, and if things go bad this week in Jacksonville there could be a change. They just don't do enough on offense. Steve Slaton looks like a keeper at running back.

27 Raiders · Trends 26
When does JaMarcus Russell start completing more than 10 passes a game? That simply isn't good enough. The Lane Kiffin watch continues.

28 Bengals · Trends 28
How happy are they to get the Browns this week? At least they showed some fight against the Giants.

29 Browns · Trends 21
It's time to start looking to 2009, just as I told you guys it would happen before the season. Brady Quinn time is nearing.

30 Lions · Trends 29
At least last year they had an offense. Now they don't even have that. This thing is getting worse by the week. Now the owner's son wants Matt Millen gone. Who doesn't?

31 Chiefs · Trends 30
If they really want to compete to win games, can they really do it with Tyler Thigpen? How can their quarterback situation be so messed up? Carl Peterson, how did you let that happen?

32 Rams · Trends 31
Say goodbye to Scott Linehan. This is a mess. But I'm not sure it's fixable -- no matter who's the coach.