Scouting the Dallas Cowboys

Charles E. Sutton | 1/3/2013, 2:33 p.m.

The Washington Redskins will play the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at FedEx Field with the division title at stake. As the teams prepare for this crucial showdown, here's what we know about the Cowboys.

The Running Game is Weak

At 77.7 yards per game, the Cowboys rank next to last in the league in rushing. In part because starter DeMarco Murray missed six games in the middle of the season with a sprained left foot, including the first game against Washington. But the Cowboys have had limited rushing opportunities because they have fallen behind early or wound up in shootouts. Dallas had only 11 rushing attempts in Sunday's overtime loss to New Orleans. In the first half, the Cowboys scored twice on long passes, limiting their number of plays. In the second half, they trailed by two touchdowns and had to give up on the run late.

Romo Is on Fire

Since Week 9, Tony Romo has lit up the opposition. He has passed for 17 touchdowns and thrown only three interceptions as the Cowboys have gone 5-3 in their last eight games. Romo has established a career high with 4,685 yards, but that is somewhat misleading. Three of his four career 400-plus yard games have occurred this season, and the Cowboys lost all of them, including the Thanksgiving game against the Redskins. After this week, the Cowboys could have three players with more than 1,000 yards receiving and rank third in the league in passing at 302.2 yards a game.

The Defense is Hurting

Sometimes things just feel out of whack. That's sort of how the Cowboy defense is feeling nowadays. Dallas is without five starters and their nickel cornerback. Pro-Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware missed much of the second half against the Saints with a right shoulder injury and has been limited by elbow and groin injuries this season, but we should expect him to play against the Redskins. It stands to reason that the Cowboys gave up a season-high 562 yards against New Orleans.

Not Good in Finales

Sunday will mark the third time in five seasons the Cowboys have faced a win-or-go-home situation in Week 17. Thus, they have a lot of experience dealing with these types of scenarios. Unfortunately, it has not been good. Last season, the Giants beat the Cowboys to win the NFC's final playoff spot with a 31-14 win. In 2008, Dallas turned the ball over five times and got crushed by Philadelphia 44-6 to give the Eagles the wild-card spot.