Key Individual Matchups
Redskins OLB LaVar Arrington vs. Cowboys RB Julius Jones
Dallas' offense must remain balanced and win field position to be victorious Sunday. Dallas needs the running threat to open up the passing game, and Jones is the key to making the Redskins honor their run responsibilities.
Arrington, who had been hobbled much of the season, adds a playmaking dimension on defense. Jones has great speed and cutback vision, and he has great success running behind the massive left side of the Cowboys' line. When Jones runs left this week, it will allow Arrington to chase the play and plug the cutback lanes.
Arrington is extremely fast and is a ferocious hitter. Jones must stay alert when cutting back. Though Jones has played well recently, the Cowboys will not have much success running this week. Advantage: Arrington.
Arrington Scouting Report
Strengths: Attacks line when he reads run. Has bulk and the lower body to hold ground at the point of attack. Takes good angles and closes cutback lanes. Can consistently chase down plays. Explodes into tackles and has a mean streak. Is a fierce hitter. Has ball skills and can provide big plays. Has explosive first step to beat most linemen off the snap. Can turn the corner and has closing speed.
Weaknesses: Takes too many chances and must play with more discipline.
Bottom line: Arrington is one of the best linebackers in the league. He's a playmaker who's stout vs. the run, consistently forces quarterbacks to hurry decisions and can cover running backs.
Jones Scouting Report
Is a shifty, quick, elusive runner with terrific hands; is a huge threat in space. Has good top-end speed and a second gear in the open field. Lacks size.
Redskins SS Ryan Clark vs. Cowboys TE Jason Witten
For the second consecutive week, Clark faces a team whose best receiving option is its tight end. Last week, Clark limited the 49ers' Eric Johnson to eight receptions for 73 yards.
Witten has soft hands, the ability to catch the ball in traffic and a decent burst. He has becomes a dependable target for Vinny Testaverde. Witten is six inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than Clark, who lacks great coverage skills.
If Witten gets into his pattern, Clark will struggle to deny the ball. To compensate, Clark must jam Witten at the line to re-route him and throw off his rhythm. Advantage: Witten.
Witten Scouting Report
Strengths: Has soft hands. Rarely drops balls. Has long arms. Is a fluid athlete. Is good at adjusting to balls in the air. Is comfortable making catches over his shoulders. Will catch the balls in stride. Can make tough catches in traffic. Has the height to win all the jump balls.
Weaknesses: Doesnít drive defenders off the ball in the short/intermediate passing game. Tends to round off routes. Wonít always find soft spots in zone coverage. Lacks agility with the ball.
Bottom line: Witten should improve with experience, but he is raw and must add strength.
Redskins DT Cornelius Griffin vs. Cowboys LG Larry Allen
The Cowboys prefer to run behind Allen and left tackle Flozell Adams, and this matchup will decide their ability to run the ball -- and the likely winner of the game. Allen plays with good leverage and despite his age can dominate at the point of attack. However, Allen struggles when faced with quick one-gap penetrators, and he no longer has the ability to move laterally to counter double moves.
Allen must get good position because Griffin relies on his explosive first step to make plays. Griffin has good size but must prevent Allen from locking on to him in the running game. If Allen can get movement against Griffin without help, the Cowboys' line should be able to create seams for Jones. Advantage: Even.
Griffin Scouting Report
Strengths: Has size and adequate athletic ability. Wins battles with quickness and an explosive first step. Plays with leverage and adequate upper-body strength. Has balance and can change directions quickly. Is comfortable in space. Excels at shooting gaps and has lateral mobility to force offensive linemen to redirect. Shows burst.
Weaknesses: Lacks bulk and must improve endurance. Must play with a mean streak.
Bottom line: Griffin hasnít matched his rookie production and has been hindered by injuries, but he can be dominant and has potential.
Allen Scouting Report
Strengths: Plays with leverage, explosive strength and power at the point of attack. Really can deliver a blow. Takes good angles to blocks. Has tremendous wall-off qualities. Can play a position game with his feet, or dominate at the point of attack or push defenders off of the ball.
Weaknesses: Skills are in decline when asked to be an athlete. Lacks range to handle one-gap penetrators. Struggles when isolated vs. double moves.
Bottom line: Allen isnít the player he once was, but he still can be a dominating inside presence and is a real boost in the running game.