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Redskins-Cowboys: 4 Keys To the Game Presented By Papa John's breaks down key matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Cowboys game at FedExField:


Todd Collins vs. Cowboys Secondary

Todd Collins has provided an energy boost to the offense, as well as steady leadership, in the Redskins' three-game winning streak. He has completed 60 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions.

And the big play has returned. Last week, Collins threw 32- and 33-yard touchdown strikes.

Against Dallas, he faces a 3-4 defensive alignment for the first time. The Cowboys remain solid against the run, allowing just 92.1 rushing yards per game, so Collins will need to be on target in the passing game again.

The Cowboys' secondary is ranked 13th overall, allowing 212.4 yards per game. While the defensive backs have been susceptible to big plays, they have also been opportunistic. Starters Anthony Henry, Ken Hamlin, Terence Newman and Roy Williams have a combined 17 interceptions.

Of course, by the second half, Collins could be throwing against backup cornerbacks Nathan Jones and Jacques Reeves. Dallas is expected to rest most of their starters since they have clinched a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage through the postseason.


Redskins Defensive Backs vs. Cowboys Wide Receivers

Washington has to feel confident in slowing Dallas's ground game. In Week 11, the Redskins limited Marion Barber and Julius Jones to just 73 rushing yards.

It was T.O. who beat the Redskins with four touchdown catches. In all, he had eight receptions for 173 yards.

No T.O. this Sunday. He's out with a high ankle sprain.

Whether it's Tony Romo or Brad Johnson throwing the ball, the Redskins' secondary has something to prove against the Cowboys.

The unit, ranked 16th in pass defense, has improved dramatically in recent weeks as safeties LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty have adjusted to their roles.

Patrick Crayton and Terry Glenn are expected to start at wide receiver for the Cowboys. Crayton has 48 catches for 689 yards and seven touchdowns this season, but he caught just two passes for 16 yards in Week 11 against the Redskins.

Glenn, sidelined all season with a knee injury, is expected to return. He could be re-energized to make an impact on a Cowboys team looking to make run at the Super Bowl. He has caught touchdown passes in five of his past seven games against the Redskins.


Antwaan Randle El vs. Cowboys Punt Coverage

This game could be decided on special teams, where both clubs have playmakers. Rock Cartwright and Miles Austin are two of the best kickoff returners in the NFL, averaging 26 yards per return.

On punt returns, Antwaan Randle El has been looking to break loose all season. He has averaged just 5.5 yards per return, a career low. The Redskins are ranked 27th in the NFL in punt return average.

Dallas's punt coverage unit has yielded 12.1 yards per punt return, among the worst in the league.

In Week 11 against Dallas, Randle El had a 20-yard punt return, so he should know what to expect from the Cowboys' coverage units.


Andre Carter vs. Flozell Adams

Andre Carter leads the Redskins with 10.5 sacks, but he has struggled against Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams. In three games, he has yet to record a sack against Adams.

Adams weighs in at 6-7 and 340 pounds, so Carter needs to use his speed to get past him.

Of course, Carter could be lining up against tackle Pat McQuistan by mid-game. Adams is a likely candidate to either sit out the game or be removed after a couple of series.

McQuistan, who is 6-6 and 311 pounds, has played sparingly in two NFL seasons.

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