Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Underdogs Against Hungry Redskins

The wife and I are headed up to FedEx this afternoon to see my 13-2 Dallas Cowboys play the 8-7 Washington Redskins. Despite the fact that the Cowboys have the far better record and would set a franchise record if they notched their 14th regular season win, they’re 9-and-a-half point underdogs.

Bodog’s handicapper puts it about right:

There couldn’t be two teams with more and less motivation than when the Washington Redskins face the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.

Dallas has sealed home-field advantage through the playoffs and will definitely rest banged-up starters such as quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Washington has to win and they’re in. Despite the long-heated rivalry between the Cowboys and Redskins, it’s tough to see how the Redskins lose this one in front of their home crowd.

ESPN’s John Clayton adds, “The Cowboys aren’t expected to play starters most of the game and they will rest players who have injuries. They are set up to be beaten, and anytime a Redskins team has a chance to beat the Cowboys is monumental.”

Most of the sports staff at the Dallas Morning News predict a Redskins win.

    Todd Archer: Cowboys, 22-17. “Cowboys set franchise record for wins in a season using backups in the second half.”

    Albert Breer: Redskins, 24-20. “Cowboys pull starters in second half, Redskins rally late.”

    Tim Cowlishaw: Cowboys, 17-14. “Even with stars playing limited roles, Cowboys get by Redskins feeling the pressure.”

    Rick Gosselin: Redskins, 24-17. “The game doesn’t matter to the Cowboys.”

    Tim MacMahon: Redskins, 21-17. “Redskins earn playoff berth while Cowboys’ stars get some rest.”

    Kevin Sherrington: Redskins, 20-17. “Hope the Cowboys don’t get used to taking the week off.”

    Jean-Jacques Taylor: Redskins, 31-13. “You should be impressed if this game is decided in the fourth quarter, because Dallas has nothing to play for, and Washington needs a win to make the playoffs.”

    Calvin Watkins: Redskins, 21-14. “Cowboys care about the game, but the Redskins really care and clinch a playoff berth.”

Anything could happen in this game, of course, but I suspect Goose, JJT, and company are right.

As Jim Reeves of the FWST puts it, “There’s way too much to lose for Cowboys to play to win.”

I’m hoping Brad Johnson and company can pull it out for sheer pride. The head coach, Wade Phillips, has said all week that they’d do their best.

But, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, the Cowboys want to win — but at a reduced risk.

With that said, though, Phillips wants to lead the Cowboys (13-2) over the Redskins (8-7). Not for momentum’s sake, but for an accomplishment.

“We want to win 14 games,” Phillips said. “You know, 13 is the most ever for this franchise, which is a historic franchise. So that would be quite an accomplishment. Somebody may play for that. I’ll be coaching for that, I’ll tell you that.”

I’ll be cheering for it. It would be great to be there for such a historic day. Conversely, a meaningless loss will sting more being surrounded by Redskins.

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