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Redskins-Cowboys: 4 Keys To the Game Presented By Papa John's

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Redskins.com breaks down some of the key matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys game at Cowboys Stadium.

"Redskins-Cowboys: 4 Keys to the Game" is presented by Papa John's.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


OFFENSE

Redskins' Offensive Line vs. Cowboys Pass Rush

After weeks of reshuffling, the Redskins are expected to start the same five offensive linemen for the second week in a row this Sunday.

At left tackle, Levi Jones impressed defending Denver's Elvis Dumervil while Stephon Heyer and Chad Rinehart helped solidify the right side of the line.

The Redskins have yielded 31 sacks this season, ranked 30th in the league, so pass protection remains a premium for Jason Campbell and company.

For years, the Chris Samuels-DeMarcus Ware matchup was a key when the Redskins played the Cowboys. Now Samuels is out for the year with a neck injury and the responsibility for stopping Ware falls to Jones.

Ware, at 6-4 and 262 pounds, is the Cowboys best pass rusher. He seven sacks this season despite a sore ankle. A year ago, Ware led the NFL with 20 sacks and he has 60.5 in his five-year career.

In the interior, nose tackle Jay Ratliff has emerged as a dominant force. The 6-4, 303-pounder has four sacks this season and is sure to be a handful for Casey Rabach.

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Overall, Dallas has 24 sacks, tied with Washington, Indianapolis and San Diego for eighth best in the league.

DEFENSE

Redskins Run Defense vs. Marion Barber

The Redskins continue to struggle in run defense this season. The unit has yielded 100 rushing yards in eight of nine games this season, including 120 yards in last Sunday's win over Denver.

Overall, the Redskins have allowed an average of 125.7 rushing yards per game, ranked 24th in the league. They have allowed 4.3 yards per carry, which is ranked 17th in the league.

It appears offenses have had some success running at the edges, away from Albert Haynesworth and London Fletcher in the middle. Fletcher leads the defense with 92 tackles.

Dallas employs a three-headed running attack led by Marion Barber. Felix Jones, who averaged 6.9 yards per carry, and Tashard Choice split carries with Barber,

At 6-0 and 222 pounds, Barber is a tough, physical runner similar to Atlanta's Michael Turner, who gashed the Redskins' defense for 166 yards in Week 9.

This season Barber has 103 carries for 473 yards, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average, and four touchdowns.

Overall, the Cowboys are ranked eighth in the NFL with 130.0 rushing yards per game.

As Redskins fan recall, Barber helped seal a 14-10 win last November at FedExField when he rushed for 66 yards in the fourth quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Redskins Punt Coverage vs. Patrick Crayton

The Redskins' special teams have performed well against some elite punt returners this year, including Denver's Eddie Royal and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.

The unit is ranked sixth in the NFL in punt coverage, allowing just 5.7 yards per return.

H.B. Blades has led the unit with 20 special teams tackles, followed by Mike Sellers and Reed Doughty, who have 14 each.

They face another challenge in Crayton, who is ranked second in the NFL with a 14.4-yard punt return average among returners with 10 or more attempts.

After struggling early in the season, Crayton had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown in Week 8 against Atlanta and a 73-yard return for a touchdown a week later in Seattle.

1-on-1

Brian Orakpo vs. Doug Free

Orakpo may have responsibility for covering Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, which could be a problem. Orakpo is still refining his pass coverage skills, so look for defensive coaches to give him help if he matches up against Witten.

When the Cowboys are in obvious passing situations, Orakpo will be line up at defensive end where he has posted the bulk of his seven sacks this season.

Orakpo matches up against right tackle Doug Free, who is expected to make his first NFL start in place of Marc Columbo, out with an ankle injury.

Free is a third-year offensive lineman and a 2007 fourth-round draft pick by the Cowboys. The 6-6, 313-pounder has seen minimal action in the pros. At Northern Illinois, he played primarily left tackle.

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