We've waited nearly half the season and finally we get another NFC East division matchup. The Dallas Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on their turf this Sunday and both teams are fighting for a chance at the division this year. Both teams are tied at 3-3, currently good enough for second in the division.
The Philadelphia Eagles aren't making things any easier for the Cowboys, what with one total loss, but the Cowboys still have their sights set on the 2017 NFC East Title and rightfully so. It's been a tumultuous year for Dallas between suspensions, "oh wait, he's not suspended yet", and various lackluster performances from week to week, but all the ingredients are there. The Cowboys can be successful this season.
This week, the Cowboys face a team dealing with a major injury list. At one point this week as much as a third of the Redskins' active roster was on the injury report. That includes most of the offensive line, which is bound to be without more than one starter come Sunday. With the way DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are playing, I'm expecting big things from our pass rush.
The Redskins have 10 players listed as questionable on the final injury report, and three out. The Cowboys have three players marked as questionable (Maliek Collins, Kyle Wilber, Justin Durant) with only two players out.
Dallas will be without kicker Dan "Automatic" Bailey this week and for several more to come, but you won't be stuck with Jeff Heath's terrible, albeit surprisingly not as terrible as expected efforts. The Cowboys signed free agent K Mike Nugent this week to fill in for Bailey.
Since his rookie season in 2005, Nugent has a career average of 80.8% on field goals and 96.9% on PATs. His long field goal record is 55 yards, which isn't bad. He's had season longs over 50 yards six times in his career, spanning from 2006 to 2016, so he's got some leg strength.
Is he Dan Bailey good? No, of course not. Is he good enough? Probably. When you have a guy like Bailey, nobody is going to measure up in his absence. The same reasons we all love Bailey are also why most will hate Nugent.
You just have to take what you get on this one and pray for Bailey's speedy recovery.
Chidobe Awuzie is out, again. Keep holding out hope, guys, he'll see the field eventually. Sean Lee is healthy, Anthony Hitchens too, and Jaylon Smith is still absorbing the game. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are 100%, and it looks like the whole offensive line will be a go on game day as well.
We're in good shape. It could be even better if we get the rain forecast for the game because the Redskins have a decent passing game. Rain favors the ground game and Dallas is definitely the stronger running team.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, this round of the Josh Norman vs. Dez Bryant drama is nearly concluded. Break out the beers cause that's reason enough to celebrate right there! But seriously, looks like Norman is good to go. They say he'll play.
As always, I encourage you to add your own predictions for the game in our comments section below.
✭ ✭ ✭
Redskins injuries underscore failed comeback attempt
Dallas got right in Santa Clara and despite a few bumps stays on the winning path. With the lead late, Dallas' rushmen seal the game - shining a bright light on the Redskins offensive line woes. A huge division win, but a little too close for comfort. Christopher Waetjen – @SingForTheDay
Cowboys 31 – Redskins 24
✭ ✭ ✭
This feels like a must win game for the 3-3 Cowboys, and one I expect them to get against a very good Redskins team. Washington will not be at full strength this week, particularly on the offensive line. When Dallas can control both lines of scrimmage, they win. I have this being the case on the road as Ezekiel Elliott scores twice on the ground. Sean Martin – @SeanMartinNFL
Cowboys 31 – Redskins 21
✭ ✭ ✭
Battle For the Fourth Win
Both teams will take that field with a 3-3 record. This game is quite important. Being at home, Washington will find a way to keep it close. However, they won't be able to win with a beaten-up roster. Not against this Cowboys team. Dallas is improving after an ugly start to the season, and with the offense hitting on all cylinders, they may become as unstoppable as they were during the 2016 regular season. Mauricio Rodriguez – @PepoR99
Cowboys 28 – Redskins 20
✭ ✭ ✭
Dak and Dallas Dominant yet again
With Dallas as healthy as they've been all season, they come out strong against Washington and get a big lead early behind Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Cole Beasley. With Washington missing so many players in the OL this week, DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving make a victim of Kirk Cousins. John Williams – @john9williams
Cowboys 28 – Redskins 13
✭ ✭ ✭
Finally, Back-to-Back Wins
Even with the game in Washington, the Cowboys have a much healthier team. If the "heavy rainfall" that is currently projected happens, it will enhance Dallas' advantage in the trenches and hurt Washington's finesse offense. Rivalry games are usually a slog and the rain will make it even more sloggy, which is good for the Cowboys. Jess Haynie – @CowboysAddicts
Cowboys 24 – Redskins 20
✭ ✭ ✭
Hail to the Cowboys
The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points the last three weeks, and they are going to have to continue that stretch if they plan on winning this key divisional game. With the way Philadelphia is playing, neither Dallas or Washington can afford a loss this week, but I have faith Dak Prescott & Co. can pull it out. I think this game looks similar to last year's Thanksgiving Day shootout. Kevin Brady – @KevinBrady88
Cowboys 34 – Redskins 28
✭ ✭ ✭
Cowboys Weather the Storm in Washington
The weather in Washington is going to be a huge factor in this game, but fortunately it favors the Cowboys. It's supposed to rain and be really windy, so I expect we see a lot of quick passes and a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott. This will likely be a sloppy game due to the weather conditions, but the Cowboys are built better to withstand the storm. Brian Martin – @BrianMartinNFL
Cowboys 24 – Redskins 13
✭ ✭ ✭
Losses are Bigger When Starting at .500
With how the Redskins are playing this season and the woes of a typical division game, I don't expect the Cowboys will have this easily in hand. The weather helps, but our defense will have to step up against the run, which they haven't been able to do very well. I believe the Cowboys dominate early and just hold Washington off in the second half. Bryson Treece – @BrysonTreece
Cowboys 20 – Redskins 17
✭ ✭ ✭
We're all predicting the Cowboys to win this game. With any luck, we see this team come out and build on what they did in California last week.
Share your game picks below and, as always, Go Cowboys!
#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.
NFC East Showdown: Cowboys Offense Primed to Dominate Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys are probably as confident as they have been all season as an offense after completely manhandling the Jacksonville Jaguars defense last week. They were able to put up 40 points on the Jaguar's top-ranked defense and now have to do the same against their division rival, the Washington Redskins.
I don't think there would be any argument if I were to say the Washington Redskins defense isn't nearly as talented as the Cowboys faced last week with the Jaguars. In fact, the Redskins are ranked near the bottom of the league in almost every defensive category, which should have Dallas' offensive players primed for this matchup.
As things stand right now, the Washington Redskins are giving up 21.2 points per game which ranks 24th in the NFL. They are also giving up 344 total yards (25th in the NFL) and 227.2 passing yards a game (24th). The lone bright spot of their defense is stopping the run, where they are currently ranked 12th in the NFL and are only allowing 116.8 rushing yards to opposing running backs.
Luckily, the Dallas Cowboys and Quarterback Dak Prescott looked to have found a groove with their passing game last week against the Jaguars top-ranked passing defense. With the Redskins ranked near the bottom of the league in passing defense, I think the Cowboys should and probably will build upon the success they had last week.
Now, I fully expect the Cowboys passing game to find success once again against the Redskins, but I also believe Running Back Ezekiel Elliott to dominate on the ground like he has in the past against Washington.
Zeke only played in one game against the Redskins last season, but absolutely dominated in that contest. He rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns a year ago and I wouldn't be surprised if he is close to that milestone this week as well, even if it is against the strength of Washington's defense.
I'm really hoping I'm not a being a little overconfident here, but I guess I'm just buying into the success the Cowboys had on the offensive side of the ball last week. The offense finally started to do the things that have made them successful in the past and I'm expecting that to carry over into this week.
I believe we will see Prescott using his mobility once again, although I don't know if he will rush for 83 yards. I'm also expecting to see Wide Receiver Cole Beasley heavily involved in the passing game again because Washington doesn't have a defensive back who can cover him. Of course, let's not forget Ezekiel Elliott. I'm expecting him have a big game as well.
Overall, I really don't see the Washington Redskins defense giving the Dallas Cowboys any problems on the offensive side of the ball as long as they execute the way they did last week. I know when these two teams square off against one another it's usually a slobber knocker, but I think the Cowboys are the better team and is the one that comes away with the victory.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys offense will dominate the Redskins defense?
Can Dak Prescott Continue His Washington Domination On Sunday?
There has been a lot of change within the Dallas Cowboys since 2016.
One thing hasn't changed these past two years, however, and that is the Cowboys beating the Washington Redskins. In fact, since Dak Prescott took over as the starting quarterback in Dallas the Cowboys are 4-0 against Washington. Even as the sky was falling in Dallas a year ago, and the Cowboys offense looked like the worst in football, they still found a way to dominate Washington 38-14 and snap their then-three game losing streak.
In his four career games against Washington, Dak Prescott has quarterback ratings of 103.7, 108.9, 82.2, and 93.4. To put this into context, Prescott's average quarterback rating this season is 85.5 and that is really driven by his outlier positive rating of 118.6 against the Detroit Lions. To be fair, however, his 54.5 rating against Seattle was also a heavy outlier.
Prescott isn't the only Cowboy who has exercised this dominance over Washington, though. As Staff Writer John Williams has pointed out, Jason Garrett is 11-4 against the Redskins since becoming the Cowboys head coach, and Dallas has won six of their last eight against Washington since 2014.
So heading into Sunday's rematch with their division foe, history says the Cowboys should be feeling rather confident, right?
Well there's another streak occurring the Cowboys will actually be looking to break on Sunday. That, of course, is their winless start on the road this season.
Ironically the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys have actually been a good road team until now, going a combined 12-4 the past two seasons. And, since the new stadium opened in 2009, the Cowboys have been historically better on the road than at home, making this year's 3-3 start even more bizarre.
To put it simply, "somethings gotta give" on Sunday. Either Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will continue to beat up on the Redskins and get a leg up in the NFC East, or this horrendous road start will continue for another week.
Either way, I'm sure the takes will be hot on Monday morning.
Star Blog1 week ago
If Jason Garrett’s Out, Who’s In? Potential HC Candidates
Star Blog6 days ago
Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?
Player News1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL’s Top 10 Rookies
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Did Garrett’s OT Decision Cost Him More Than Just the Game?
Star Blog1 week ago
Is Jason Garrett Losing the Cowboys Locker Room?
Player News5 days ago
Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Report: Jason Garrett “Not Going Anywhere” with Possible Extension Coming Soon
Game Notes1 week ago
Jaylon Smith Looks Healthy, And The NFL Should Be Terrified