We’ll look at one matchup on both sides of the ball:
Orakpo, a first-round pick out of Texas, has established himself as a defensive rookie of the year frontrunner with seven sacks in the last seven games. Free, a fourth-round pick in 2007, will be making his first career start.
The 6-6, 313-pound Free has a significant size advantage over the 6-3, 260-pound Orakpo, who moves to defensive end when the Redskins go to their nickel and dime packages. But those numbers are deceiving.
Orakpo is a powerful bull-rusher who plays with great leverage. Free has good agility but below-average strength for an offensive tackle.
After replacing injured Marc Colombo in the first quarter of last week’s loss to Green Bay, Free did not give up a sack. But he was matched up against a third-team outside linebacker. Orakpo presents a much tougher challenge.
Moss had 100-yard performances in three of his four trips to Texas Stadium. That included a five-catch, 159-yard game highlighted by two long, late touchdowns in the Redskins’ rally-from-behind win on the night the Triplets were inducted into the Ring of Honor. Moss had eight catches for 145 yards in the Redskins’ road upset last season.
Terence Newman was terrible when Washington came to town last season, but he had an excuse. He was playing with a sports hernia that required surgery. He made a triumphant return weeks later, holding Moss to 29 yards on five catches in the Cowboys’ win at Washington.
Newman shadowed Moss in that victory over the Redskins, much like he did against Steve Smith in this season’s win over the Carolina Panthers. But the Cowboys’ coaches have a good reason not to go that route again. Jenkins, who is fulfilling the potential the Cowboys saw when they made him a first-round pick in 2008, has actually played better than Newman this season.