Here are five things to look for this week as we work our way towards the big game on Sunday:
—The health of DeJon Gomes will be something to monitor. He suffered a second-degree sprain of his left MCL against the Eagles. Center Will Montgomery was able to play with the same injury last Sunday but functioning on the line with a bum knee is one thing and working at safety is quite another. The rotation of Gomes, Jordan Pugh, and Reed Doughty at strong safety has been working well and if Gomes can’t go it won’t help. We will check his practice status through the week.
—On the Dallas side, the main health concern centers on linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Their perennial Pro Bowl pass rusher suffered a strained shoulder and he was a spectator during most of the critical stages of the Cowboys’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Saints on Sunday. He also is playing with the effects of a hyperextended elbow. Jason Garrett seems to be confident that Ware will play but even if he does the question is how effective he can be.
—Robert Griffin III has played his best this year on the biggest stages—his NFL debut in New Orleans, Thanksgiving in Dallas, Monday night against the Super Bowl champion Giants. But the stakes in this game will increase the heat and intensity of the spotlight will increase exponentially. There is no reason to believe that RG3 can’t step up and get it done with the stakes this high but there is no way of knowing he can for sure until he does it.
—This is the biggest game in the lives of most of the rest of the Redskins, too. They have been a loose bunch, playing cards, singing and dancing in the locker room and going about their business just like they did when they were 3-6. They didn’t get too low when they were losing and they don’t seem to be getting too high as they are winning. Will they be able to maintain that even keel? And if they can will such a demeanor serve them well in an atmosphere that will have playoff-like intensity?
—Will either side provide the other with some bulletin board material? Earlier this year Victor Cruz said that the Redskins “missing some pieces” they needed to become a “legitimate” playoff contender. Both Mike Shanahan and Garrett keep their players buttoned up pretty tightly so it’s unlikely that any words of disrespect will come from either team. But if someone does let something slip it will be fodder for the national media in such a high profile game.