Endless hours in the weight room and studying film, weeks of OTA’s and minicamps, days in the hot sun during training camp, almost 50 practices and 15 regular season games lead up to this. One game, the winner gets to continue practicing, studying film, and playing game; the loser likely goes home.
The Redskins and Cowboys will play in that one game Sunday night at 8:20. Until then, we’ll help you count down the hours and minutes until kickoff with this blog. We’ll update with the latest new, notes, nuggets, thoughts, and analysis right up until the start of the game. Check by frequently throughout the day and refresh the page for the latest.
Time is in hours and minutes until kickoff.
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DeJon Gomes is out with a knee injury. It looks like Tyler Polumbus will start. The full list of inactives:
DB Gomes, KR Banks, WR Briscoe, LB Muckelroy, LBSo'oto, OT Compton and OL Gettis
Potential opponent update
-1:40—If the Redskins win, they will face either the Seahawks or the 49ers. As of right now, Seattle is losing while San Francisco is winning. If eitheir of those results hold, the Redskins would host the Seahawks if they win.
Here is Alfred Morris out of the field in shorts and a T-shirt. And it's flippin' cooold out there. (photo credit @TarikCSN)
Looks like Polumbus might play
-2:20—The word is that the Redskins expect Tyler Polumbus to be able to start at right tackle. We won’t know for sure until the inactives are announced about an hour from now, but it looks like the Redskins will start the offensive line alignment that they did for their first 14 games.
No word on safety DeJon Gomes, who suffered a sprained MCL last week. We will find out about him when the inactives go out.
At FedEx Field
-3:20—OK, I’m here, a couple of quick updates:
--As of now, three and a half hours before kickoff, it’s pretty windy down on the field. Some TV light stands have blown over and the streamers on top of the goal posts are very active, especially on the far end of the field (the right side when you’re watching on TV).
--The parking lots are rather lively. I came in at about 4:30 and there was plenty of tailgating going on. They open the gates in about 30 minutes and it will be interesting to see how quickly the place gets filled up and how loud it will be when it does.
--As you’ve probably heard, the Bears won, taking away the Redskins’ safety net. Their only route to the playoffs now is to beat Dallas and take the NFC East crown.
On the way to FedEx
-5:50—I’m heading out to go to the stadium. We’ll pick this back up when I get there. You can still hit me with questions on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments section.
One note on the way out, we do have a ballgame in Detroit. The Lions scored a touchdown just before halftime to pull to within 20-10 of the Bears. If the Bears do hold on, they only way they will be able to play next weekend is by winning tonight.
Walt Anderson is the referee
-6:20--The referee for tonight’s game will the Walt Anderson, who has been officiating games since 2000 and has been a referee since 2003. His crew officiated last years season ending, winner take all game between the Cowboys and Giants.
The last Redskins game Anderson worked was their 2010 win in Chicago, DeAngelo Hall’s four-interception game.
It seems like his crew lets them play. They have called double digit penalties on one team three times in 12 games this year. They have called five or fewer infractions on a team 13 times (some doubling up there with games where five or fewer called against both teams.
Some reading to kill the time
-6:50--We had some quality content on CSNwashington.com this week. Take a look to help you get ready for the game.
- The numbers crunchers say the Redskins are better
- Romo is trying to change his legacy, RG3 is trying to create on
- Shanahan on RG3: “Nobody has played at this level”
- Best of Cowboys vs. Redskins
- How will the Redskins’ O-line hold up?
- Best Redskins games in Washington
- Dez Bryant vs. the Redskins secondary
- Best prime time games in Redskins history
FOX talking heads picks
- Howie Long—Cowboys
- Jimmy Johnson—Redskins
ESPN talking heads picks
The right tackle situation
-7:50—We probably won’t know who is starting at right tackle until the inactives are announced at about 7 p.m. Tyler Polumbus practiced on a limited basis on Friday and that normally would be a good sign that he will play. But he practiced last Friday, too, but his concussion was still bothering him on Sunday to the point where he was inactive against the Eagles.
Maurice Hurt played pretty well in Polumbus’ place; the guys at Pro Football Focus graded him at a plus-2.2 for the game. That is better than Polumbus’ grade for every game but one of his 14 starts.
Still, if Polumbus is ready he should start; experience means a lot in this game.
NFL Network Gameday crew
-8:10—They have picked the game and four out of the five picked the Redskins. Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, and Warren Sapp took Washington. The only who went Dallas was—brace yourselves for the shock—Michael Irvin.
We now have 43 in the media going Redskins, 15 backing Dallas.
The locals pick the game
-8:55—Every week, Rich Campbell of the Washington Times compiles the media picks for the upcoming Redskins game. This week his page with the picks has a very strong burgundy and gold hue.
Of the 21 media folks from print, broadcast and Internet outlets, only Zac Boyer of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star and Dave Ross of FOX 5 picked the Cowboys.
Trust me, this is not a room full of homers. I think that the strong feeling that the Redskins will win comes from dealing with team through the season and noting the quiet confidence that the players have in themselves, both individually and as a group.
By the way, I picked a 41-35 Redskins win. I am leading the pack picking against the spread with an 11-4 record.
This brings out total media count to 38 picking the Redskins and 14 going Cowboys.
-9:40—The Post has an article on fan superstitions that’s pretty amusing—well, if you think that socks that haven’t been washed since October to be amusing.
I’m sure you have yours, feel free to share them in the comments.
Four of five on NFL.com go Cowboys
-10:10—I really haven’t heard of any of these guys with the exception of Gregg Rosenthal, who used to work for PFT. But of the five NFL “Around the League” bloggers, four pick the Cowboys to win. Only editor Jim Reineking took the Redskins.
That narrows our tally to 19 picking the Redskins and 12 going with Dallas.
“Expert” pick tally
-10:45--I figured it would be a good idea to tally the talking head counts as we chronicle them throughout the various network pregame shows. So far, we have CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, NFL Network AM, and Pro Football Talk and 18 have picked the Redskins and eight have taken the Cowboys.
Metro open until 12:25
-10:50—As a public service, passing along a tweet from Metro:
@wmata: Fans using Metro to FedEx Field: Last train tonight from Morgan Blvd to DC, VA and other rail lines will be 12:25a.
More “expert” picks
-11:00—The First on the Field crew on NFL Network picked the game. Three of the four—Michael Lombardi, Sterling Sharpe, and Melissa Stark—picked the Redskins. Only Texan LaDanian Tomlinson picked the Cowboys.
More on Dez
-11:10—Watching the early NFL Network show and there is a lot of talk about Calvin Johnson going over 2000 yards receiving. Despite Megatron’s skills, however, the Lions are 4-11.
So the Lions opponents have been able to win 11 times even though Johnson has been off the charts all year. It’s possible that Dez Bryant’s performance will be off the charts on Sunday. It was last week against the Saints when he gained 224 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns.
Note that the Cowboys lost the game just like the Lions have 11 times this year. What you need to do is turn his yards into empty yards.
If Bryant makes a catch downfield the defense will need to stiffen and hold Dallas to a field goal attempt. If he gets a touchdown, the Washington offense will need to take the kickoff and drive for an equalizing score.
So you don’t have to shut him down, you just have to neutralize what he does. If the Redskins do that, the will leave with NFC East title and will be playing at FedEx Field next weekend.
Wiz fans have RG3 fever
24:10—I caught the following in the account of the Wizards’ win over Orlando in Saturday morning’s paper:
. . . the Wizards build such a big lead that fans could turn their attention to more pressing matters in the fourth quarter. As Nene stepped to the foul line late in the game, he heard fans chanting “RGIII” for quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose Washington Redskins will play hated rival Dallas for the NFC East division title this weekend.
And I just saw report on Twitter saying that the “RG3” chant broke out at the WWE event at Verizon Center on Saturday night.
I’d say something clever like “Redskins fever—catch it” but it looks like everybody already has a pretty severe case if it already.
Dealing with Dez
-25:40--Another question via Twitter, this one from @lbertin13:
How do you see the Skins secondary matching up against Bryant, Austin and Witten? Can we stop/slow them.
It’s going to be very difficult. They didn’t really contain Bryant or Witten the last time they played. For that matter, nobody has shut them down all season. They are just going to have to play with sound technique, make the tackle after they catch the ball, and make the Cowboys be patient moving down the field.
If you make Romo throw 50-60 times or more he will put up a few for grabs. And when Romo makes his inevitable mistake, they will have to make him pay. No dropped picks.
-27:00—Let’s take a look around the web and see who’s picking the Redskins to win on Sunday.
CBSSports.com—Five of their eight human prognosticators pick the Redskins to win as does their computer-based Prediction Machine. It was interesting to note that two of them who picked the Cowboys also picked the Lions and Packers to win so only one of their pickers, Ryan Wilson, has the Redskins finishing out of the playoffs.
ESPN.com—They have 12 humans picking games and nine of them back the Redskins. Only Eric Allen, Ron Jaworski, and Keyshawn Johnson go with Dallas. Their Accuscore program picks Washington as does the majority of those making selections in the site’s “Pick ‘Em” game.
Pro Football Talk—Only two picking here. Michael David Smith goest with the Cowboys, saying that the thinks that RG3 is hurting more than most suspect. Mike Florio sees a repeat of last year with the Cowboys coming up short in a win or go home game.
Note: I was looking for picks on NFL.com but I couldn’t find any. But I did stumble across their preseason predictions page. One of their seven panel members picked the Redskins to win the NFC East—Michael Lombardi.
The preceding was a mistake, I stumbled on their 2011 predictions page.
Bowen is all business
27:10--Stephen Bowen knows that the Cowboys won't take the Redskins lightly this time around.
What about the knee of III?
30:15--This Twitter question is from frequent correspondent @Trey_DavisIII:
With Robert's knee getting better do you expect to see more read option runs?
I think we’ll see a few more but not a whole lot. Griffin didn’t run much against the Cowboys the first time (6 carries, 30 yards) and there is no reason to think things will change much this time around.
He may run a little more just to give the Cowboys a different look. He likely will still be in a brace but it shouldn’t be as bulky or restrictive as the one he wore last week.
-30:20: If you’re going to the game, the Redskins want to make sure you know that FedEx Field will be opening up early on Sunday. The parking lots will open at 3:30 and the stadium gates will open at 5:30. So there really is no excuse for you not to be in your seat and ready to make some noise by the time kickoff rolls around.
What about the unis?
-32:00: We will answer some questions along the way here. Either hit me on Twitter (@Rich_TandlerCSN) or in the comments section below. This one comes via Twitter from @SkinzOrNothing
What uniforms are the redskins wearing Sunday night?
We don’t know for sure but we do know that they will not be wearing the throwback uniforms. There are apparently some superstitious people in the building who look at how the Redskins played the one time they wore the throwbacks and decided not to wear them. That game was against the Panthers, the last game they lost. No sense in tempting fate, I guess.
Chances are they will go with the burgundy jerseys with the gold (yellow) pants. There’s a slight chance they will got with the white jerseys in order to make the Cowboys wear their unlucky blue.