Connect with us

Game Notes

Cowboys @ Redskins Game Preview and Predictions



Al Bello/Getty Images

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

✭ ✭ ✭

Running Right

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!

This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

  • Russ_Te

    How Garrett prepares this week is big IMO, as it was last week. If he is to salvage 2017, he has to be able to task this team & bring a pit bull to the stadium, every week until he has 10 or 11 wins. I think it’s his biggest challenge yet as a head coach, and I put his ability for it at about 60/40.

    My mid-season offensive strategy was completely off-base last week, so it must be coming up this week… ;^)

    Meaning this OL is not the OL of last year, and I do not want predictable runs into 8 fronts that are geared to keep Elliott from beating them. Not on the road at least. I want to put Butler in, strike downfield and make defenses pay for that approach early in the game. I want better passing game with fewer hits on Dak – so let him throw on first down when there is any overload on Zeke.

    This doesn’t have to go all year, but Garrett cannot hesitate right now to smack defenses that want to make it all about Elliott.

    Dallas 27-24

  • Fatfan

    It seems to me that every time another is full of injuries, and has nearly no chance at winning, they find a way to win it…even if for only one week. Dallas will need to ignore everything written about this game, and determine to win. Dallas’ D can expect some screen passes to Chris, which they can do quite well, and some mid passing routs to the deadskins TEs. Those work in rainy weather too, not just running the ball.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady



Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn't look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Ryan Switzer's first target came on a third down -- something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can't catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender's face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn't be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Switzer's third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback -- who is cheating to the inside -- with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I'd still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

Continue Reading

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez



Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might've lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season's finally over. It wasn't easy, but we're still here. Here's to 2018. Let's hope it's a good one for our Cowboys. Here's this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Coaching Staff Didn't Help Its Cause

It's more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job was not an issue. Now, Jerry's even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it's true.

While I don't think we'll see a new head coach anytime soon, I'd dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would've meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a "real action" game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC's #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can't help thinking about the coaches.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers' first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he'll be paid $790,000 next year which isn't at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn't been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he's used more next season.

At the end of the day, he's a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on "gadget plays" or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott's best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it's too optimistic to expect something like that.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Dan Bailey's Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey's 2017 season hasn't been easy at all. We've seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys' season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it's all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan "Automatic" Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we're not sure about calling him "Automatic" anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let's hope that's the case.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports... Maybe next year. We're on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

Continue Reading

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation - despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli's defense.

We'll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean's Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys' second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles' eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we'll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott's strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open -- relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn't been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn't now that he's lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer's ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer's spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean's Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean's Scout won't be going anywhere! I'm shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here