Once upon a time, a bountiful feast betwixt the Pilgrims and the Indians was shared, the end. Not much of a story, I know, but that's only because we had to wait nearly four centuries to get to the good stuff. It's Thanksgiving, and that means we're preparing for the Three Effs of Thanksgiving; food, family, and football. The first two are on you, so don't skimp, but that last one, well... fate had an idea on that one.
This Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys have invited the Washington Redskins into their home for something of a feast, too. Only this feast is sure to look a little more like:
Than the more traditional scene of Thanksgiving festivities...
It's the Redskins, and we all know how that story goes. What we don't yet know is how this year's chapter, the Cowboys home game, will go. Lots of talk about Alfred Morris getting his second shot against his former teammates, which RJ Ochoa covered in this week's 5 Bold Predictions. But mostly, the talk of both towns is whether or not the Redskins can slow the Cowboys' roll at all.
The Cowboys sit atop the league at 9-1. While hugely improbable and not without its close calls, it is what it is. The 'Boys are also on a streak of eight consecutive games with at least 400 yards of total offence, and carrying that stat line through this contest would be an NFL record. Not to mention nine wins in a row, but there's no record to be set there (Thanks a lot, Dolphins and Patriots).
So, as we contemplate traditions, life, and the match-up before us, let's have a look at what The Star writers have to say.
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John Williams | @John9williams
Well, I've picked the Dallas Cowboys to win in every game this year, and they've made me look like a genius in every game, aside from the week one, one point loss to the New York Giants. As I am the eternal optimist, nothing will sway me now.
I see the Dallas Cowboys being able to win each and every game remaining on their schedule, the only question is, will they?
This week they face a Washington team on a bit of a role, that's running the ball very well and allowing Kirk Cousins to have some success. I see the Dallas Cowboys giving up a lot of yards to Washington, but will win the game because Washington will be forced to kick field goals.
Cowboys 31 – Redskins 24
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Kevin Brady | @Kevinbrady88
I expect this to be an absolute dog-fight, just as it was in week two.
This 9-game winning streak started at Washington, and it will continue to roll through Washington this week. Ezekiel Elliott goes over 100 yards against an NFC East foe for the first time, and Dez Bryant hauls in another touchdown catch.
Dan Bailey wins it late, and the Cowboys improve to 10-1.
Cowboys 27 – Redskins 24
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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ
I hope you're all ready to watch some points be scored on Thanksgiving. I have a feeling this is going to be a shootout game for the ages, and a new chapter on a classic NFC East rivalry.
As I submitted to RJ Ochoa in his bold predictions, I think the winning team will pull away by 17 or more points, and if I'm right in picking the Cowboys, the league will never doubt us again. Time to eat.
Cowboys 41 – Redskins 24
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RJ Ochoa | @RJOchoa
The Cowboys Offense has amassed eight consecutive games of over 400 total yards - only the 2007 Patriots and 2013 Broncos have done this. They'll get theirs, and they'll need them against Kirk Cousins and a feisty Redskins team.
Turkey Day Shootout!
Cowboys 30 – Redskins 24
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Ian Koplowitz | @BleedingTheStar
I just don't know anymore. I've picked against the Cowboys 3-4 times since week one, and they prove me wrong each time. This is a much improved Redskins team than the one we beat in week 2, but we're a lot better as well.
The weapons they have on offense scare me, but I think they're saying the same about us. We're really going to need a turnover or two in this game, and I think we can get one. In another close game, I look for Dan Bailey to give us the scores we need to widen the divisional gap.
Cowboys 27 – Redskins 24
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Jess Haynie | @CowboysAddicts
The Cowboys are the better team and get a major advantage with the short week at home.
Still, this will be a tight rivalry match-up. Dallas-Washington games are often unpredictable.
Cowboys 27 – Redskins 24
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Justin Grohowski | @Grohowknowhow
Two of the league's best offenses are squaring off in this divisional showdown. I expect it'll be a shootout, and the Dallas offense to not skip a beat in this one. Zeke Elliott gets back on track here, and the Dak to Dez show will continue to roll.
A banged up Dallas secondary could burn the Cowboys, but they finally force a late crucial turnover to swing this one in their favor. The extra short week for the Redskins could play a factor here as well, as they are coming off a Sunday Night Football win at home.
Dallas wins a tight one.
Cowboys 31 – Redskins 26
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Brian Martin | @Bmart0204
When the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins play each other, you can almost guarantee a tough physical game. This is the first time the Cowboys rookies are playing after a short week, but I think they're up to the challenge.
I give the Cowboys the advantage at home and think Dan Bailey kicks the winning field goal.
Cowboys 24 – Redskins 21
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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece
Yeah, the Redskins are on a roll, but so are the Cowboys. The only question is will the Cowboys find a way to win, again. They've done it most of the year so I know it's possible. It's even likely, and that's why I'm going with the 'Boys on this one.
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins will prove this to be just another NFC East rivalry match-up. They'll surprise us with their hunger, a rematch they've been waiting for since week two. But I see Dak Prescott (run), Dez Bryant (pass), and Ezekiel Elliott (run) each getting their own touchdowns, plus some Dan Bailey's clutch footwork to put it away.
Cowboys 31 – Redskins 24
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Wow. There's just a whole lot of wow going around this season.
I mean, even the most optimistic fan had to see 6-5 as a very real possibility when Tony Romo went down against the Seahawks in preseason. Nobody, and I mean no one, had any clue how these Cowboys could be playing for 10-1 come Thanksgiving.
But here we are, aren't we? It's just been a hell of a ride so far. I, for one, would have liked to see Tony Romo at the helm of this beast, but Dak Prescott has done an outstanding job leading this team. Which is why my gifts for Thanksgiving this year are new Tony Romo navy and Dak Prescott white jerseys. Not that I can wear them during the game, but that's another story for another time.
So enjoy it, folks.
We wish you all a very happy and fruitful Thanksgiving from everyone here at Inside The Star. We love you guys and enjoy sharing this ride with each and every one of you. Keep your loved ones close and the TV turned up loud, oh and try not to fall asleep before it's over, because this game is going to be fun to watch.
Stay Safe Cowboys Nation. GO COWBOYS!!!
Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.
Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:
- WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
- LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
- CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable
The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.
Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.
Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.
- WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
- WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
- S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
- RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
- RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
- G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
- CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
- CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable
It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.
Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.
Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.
In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.
Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.
Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.
Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.
Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.
Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.
The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.
Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.
Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.
Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.
Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.
He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.
If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.
Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.
Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.
That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.
#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance
It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.
But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.
According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.
Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.
What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.
For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.
As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.
Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.
Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).
Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.
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