|Cowboys at Redskins Point Spread Odds, Trends, Injuries & Matchup|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 12 November 2008 21:19|
Sunday Night Matchup
Washington, D.C. - It looked like the road to the NFC championship would go through Dallas with the way the Cowboys started this season.
They haven't looked the same since a loss to the Washington Redskins in Week 4, however, and now they are simply trying to make the playoffs.
The Cowboys hope the return of Tony Romo can provide a spark and help the team get back in the win column as they visit the Redskins on Sunday night.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Cowboys -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Cowboys -1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
After going 13-3 last year, Dallas (5-4) looked like a Super Bowl contender with impressive wins over Cleveland, Philadelphia and Green Bay to start the season.
Reality set in with 26-24 home loss to the Redskins (6-3) on Sept. 28 followed by a lackluster 31-22 win over then-winless Cincinnati the following Sunday.
"I think the loss to Washington made a lot of people raise a lot of eyebrows,'' Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens said. "I think those two games alone kind of let everybody in this locker room know you got to have sort of a self check like, 'OK, we're probably not as good as we think we are, or probably not as good as hyped.'''
Since winning its first three games, Dallas has dropped four of six and trail the second-place Redskins by one game and the NFC East-leading New York Giants by three.
The Cowboys, who haven't played since losing to the Giants 35-14 on Nov. 2, will likely need to win at least five of their final seven games to make the playoffs. Beating the Redskins would be a good place to start, as it would make both teams 6-4 and split the season series.
"Everyone says we are out of the picture,'' Owens said. "There's seven games left. We're not counting ourselves out by any means.''
The Cowboys' outspoken wide receiver will likely be glad to have Romo back in the lineup after he caught 12 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown in the three games the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback missed.
Despite being out since breaking the pinkie finger on his throwing hand during Dallas' 30-24 overtime loss at Arizona on Oct. 12, Romo is still tied for third in the NFC with 14 touchdown passes. The Cowboys went just 1-2 without Romo - their same record in the three games before he got hurt.
Romo might not be the cure, but his return should at least provide the offense with a boost. Dallas averaged 29.2 points with Romo at quarterback, but scored 14, 13 and 14 in the three games he missed.
"I've done a lot of studying, and a lot of thinking about the game and trying to gain an understanding of what it is we may need to do a little bit differently or what we may need to continue to do or do better,'' said Romo, who completed 28 of 47 passes for 300 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against the Redskins in Week 4. "I feel very confident and excited going forward about things that we may have changed around, improved upon.
"I think this team has got a great second-half run in it. Hopefully we'll be able to show that this week."
While the Cowboys are trying to get their season back on track, the Redskins come out of their bye week looking to continue their impressive first half of the year.
Washington was picked by many to finish last in the NFC East, but is now poised for a playoff run. It hopes to bounce back from an embarrassing 23-6 home loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 3.
"I guess we've been better than expected,'' Redskins guard Pete Kendall said. "But now I think we've raised the expectations to the point that performances like (the loss to the Steelers) have been a little bit disappointing from the outside. But we're still 6-3, which is a pretty good record in this league. It's not a great record. It's not a perfect record, but it's better than average.''
Washington may have to go forward without running back Clinton Portis, who is second in the NFL in rushing with 995 yards on 200 carries. Portis was hurt on the final play of the first quarter against Pittsburgh and limped to the sideline with a sprained knee.
"He's questionable," Redskins coach Jim Zorn said. "I'd say there's a 50-50 chance. I'm hoping that he'll be even better than that. We've got to get the pain out of the knee and see how he progresses along."
Portis was limited to a season-low 51 yards on 13 carries against the Steelers after five straight 100-yard games. He rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries in the win over the Cowboys in September, and has run for 300 yards and three touchdowns in his last three home games against Dallas - all wins.
The Redskins, who have won five of the last seven over the Cowboys overall, have not won four straight home games over Dallas since 1972-75.
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Posted: 11/13/08 2:22AM ET