Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at Washington Redskins (0-1)
SERIES HISTORY: 113th regular-season meeting in the long-time NFC East rivalry. Cowboys lead series, 66-42-2. Dallas won at FedEx Field last Dec. 7, 19-16. That was Washington's final regular-season loss en route to a division title. The Redskins, having already clinched the division and a playoff berth, won a meaningless season finale in Dallas, 34-23.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Redskins don't have a choice. They have to find a way to stop the run against Dallas. Part of the reason Washington faded in the second half against Pittsburgh was because the Redskins' defense couldn't get off the field. That was in large part because the Steelers were constantly in third-and-short or fourth-and-short situations.
Meanwhile, Washington's offense was penalized far too often Monday. Dallas' defense has weaknesses, especially in the secondary. Of course, the same could have been said about the Steelers, and they held up well enough. One area where the Redskins' offense can be better: the red zone. They were excellent in that area in 2015. In the first quarter Monday, two drives stalled there and led to field goals. If the Redskins are to reach their potential, that can't happen again.
The Cowboys will try to pound the run against a Redskins defense that gave up 147 yards to the Steelers last week. They need to get RB Ezekiel Elliott going and the team's massive offensive line to dominate up front to take pressure off rookie QB Dak Prescott.
On defense, Dallas must stop the run and find a way to get consistent pressure on QB Kirk Cousins. If not, the secondary will have a long day against an explosive Redskins receiver corps led by the speedy DeSean Jackson.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland, who was burned by Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown for two touchdowns on Monday, vs. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant, who has just 32 receptions in his past 10 games. Expect Dallas to copy the Steelers' strategy of targeting Breeland if Washington doesn't adjust.
--Cowboys FS Byron Jones vs. Redskins TE Jordan Reed. Jones will be tasked with covering Reed, who caught 87 passes and scored 11 touchdowns last season. The Cowboys believe Jones has the athleticism to cover any tight end in the league, though he was slow to make plays in the preseason. He needs to be up to the task against the Redskins.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: WR Cole Beasley. With opposing teams focused on stopping Dez Bryant, Beasley will continue to get a lot of balls in the middle of the field. He caught eight passes for 65 yards against the Giants. However, he failed to get in the end zone, thanks largely to a huge drop at the 2-yard line. Teams will live with him nickel and diming his way down the field if doesn't cash in with touchdowns.
INJURY REPORT: Dallas -- Out: LB Mark Nzeocha (achilles), QB Tony Romo (back), DE Charles Tapper (back). Questionable: DE Jack Crawford (shoulder), G Ronald Leary (groin), CB Orlando Scandrick (hamstring), TE Geoff Swaim (ankle). Washington -- Out: DE Kendall Reyes (groin), LB Martrell Spaight (concussion). Questionable: DE Chris Baker (rib, elbow), S Su'a Cravens (hip), WR Josh Doctson (achilles), T Trent Williams (glute).
FAST FACTS: The Cowboys are 2-13 since Week 3 of last season. ... Dallas QB Dak Prescott & RB Ezekiel Elliott were the first rookie QB-RB tandem to start the season opener for the Cowboys since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969. Prescott passed for 227 yards in Week 1, and Elliott scored his first TD. ... Dallas RB Alfred Morris spent the past four seasons with Washington. Since entering the NFL in 2012, he ranks second in the league with 4,748 rushing yards and sixth with 29 touchdowns. ... Washington QB Kirk Cousins passed for 329 yards in Week 1. He had three TD passes and a 155.1 rating in his last start vs. Dallas.
PREDICTION: Both teams have defensive shortcomings, which could lead to a high-scoring division battle. Expect the Cowboys to follow the Steelers' lead and pound it at the Redskins.
OUR PICK: Cowboys, 24-20.