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3 Reasons the Cowboys should stay on their toes against the Commanders on Sunday

I have yet to find a single prediction for this Sunday's game between the and the that doesn't have Dallas coming out on top by at least seven points. Many are forecasting a victory margin of 10 points or more.  For the sports world, a Cowboys win on Sunday seems to pretty much be a given. The Commanders have a long list of players ruled out, including defensive Jonathan Allen, and several more listed as questionable after being DNP all week.  They'll be starting a that has yet to take a snap in an NFL regular season game. He'll be protected by a patchwork O-line. And to cap it all off, the Commanders have already been eliminated from playoff contention, and they're on a three game losing streak. 

However, the Cowboys and their fans have seen this movie before. We've seen enough great performances by backups, both for the Cowboys and other teams, to believe that just because someone is new or inexperienced they'll be a pushover on the field.  We've also seen enough to know that regardless of who lines up on the the other side of the the neutral zone, the Cowboys' own mistakes can turn a seemingly easy win into an uphill battle or possibly a loss. 

Playing to win

Still, some people actually think it might be wise for Dallas to rest their starters. There are several reasons that shouldn't be up for debate, but the fact of the matter is, both coaches and players have said they are approaching this game in their usual way, and they intend to win. 

With that question answered, there are three things that would make for an ideal ending to this game for players, coaches, and fans:

  1. A win
  2. Gaining a large enough lead to rest starters by the 4th quarter
  3. Winning in a fashion that gives the team desirable momentum going into the

So let's take a look at a few elements of this matchup that could determine whether or not all three of those things happen for the Cowboys: 

1) Players playing for their pride

Several writers and analysts have said the Commanders either have nothing to play for or nothing to play for but their pride. While some may believe this would make for a less challenging opponent, quite the opposite could be true.

Many of the same aspects of an athlete's game in which they take pride are the same aspects that might determine their value when it comes to things like playing time and . Several Commanders players are projected to get more chances this Sunday to prove their worth: rookie Chris Paul, , Percy Butler, and most notable among them rookie quarterback . Other players, regardless of their level of experience or where they are in their contract will undoubtedly have something to prove as well.

As I always say, no competitive athlete wants to spend three hours getting their butts kicked. We also know that teams tend rise to new heights when it comes to playing the Cowboys. With there being almost no outside pressure and the Commanders mostly playing for themselves and each other, we're likely to see a Commanders team that will fight to, at minimum, keep the game as close as possible for as long as possible.

2) Sam Howell  

Most writers and analysts don't yet know what to expect from Sam Howell. Those who aren't expecting much are basing that mainly on the fact that he's an inexperienced rookie. However, commentary on Howell from prior to the 2022 draft tells us he had the following strengths:

  • good at looking off defenders
  • strong arm
  • good at short throws as well as deep balls
  • multiple angles
  • quick release

This is a set of characteristics that should definitely keep our on alert considering that they've cited both unfamiliar looks and quick releases as issues that have thrown them off their game.  The Cowboys has been less dominant lately than they were earlier in the season. This Sunday will show us if they can return to mid-season form or if even a rookie like Howell can use speed and craftiness to find moments to shine when facing the league's best. 

3) A solid Commanders receiving corps

Speaking of Howell, even though he's not very familiar with his targets, they are skilled enough to create opportunities for him. Pro Bowl is expected to play a significant role on Sunday, and rookie receiver , who is having a very solid season, has already said he plans to play the whole game. 

We also shouldn't overlook that fact that Howell will be reuniting with a familiar target in Dyami Brown. Dyami Brown went to North Carolina with Howell, and in two years there, they connected for a total of 106 passes, 2,133 yards, and 20 touchdowns. If all else fails, the Commanders might be able to capitalize on their familiarity with one another. 

This makes for a great scenario to test the Cowboys , especially the third corner spot with and . They seem to be finding their groove following the losses of and , but they've still allowed almost 900 yards over the last three games. Sunday's game might show us whether they're playoff ready or still have some issues to work out. 


Jazz Monet
Jazz Monet
Sports culture analyst. Sports competition enthusiast. Host of Bitches Love Sports podcast. Personal trainer. Roller derby athlete and trainer.

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