The Cowboys will play their traditional Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins and they’ll have their eyes on the NFC East title. Another loss to the Redskins would complete the series sweep and knock them down to 6-4-1 and 2-2 in the division.
You never really know how the division will ultimately shake out. The playoff aspirations start and end with winning your division. With the division being so tight this season, the Cowboys will need to continue to win, but more importantly beat their division rivals. It also helps to have the best record on the NFC for homefield advantage hopes.
Since Jason Garrett took over as head coach they have been methodical in the way they have built this team. It is not Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, Dak Prescott, or Ezekiel Elliott; but rather, the offensive line.
Under Garrett, the Cowboys have invested three 1st round picks on the offensive line and they have all been homerun selections. We will again see this bruising, athletic group tire down and take the will of the opponent’s defensive line.
Here are my keys to victory:
- The defense will be called upon as they have in every game this year. They bend, but have not broken, and that mantra needs to continue. Until we get a bonafide pass rusher, Marinelli will rely on sound technique and swarming tackling to beat up the Redskins ball carriers.
- Pressure Kirk Cousins and force the turnover, he will turn the ball over.
- Protect Dak. In their last meeting the Redskins sacked Dak 4 times, so expect a similar gameplan from the Redskins.
- Feed Ezekiel Elliott and let him feast
- The secondary will have their hands full, so expect the Cowboys to play in the dime as the base defense. Need to cover their tight ends. Bryon Jones didn’t have the best game last time, so I expect him to have a bounce back game.
- No bonehead special teams plays. Lucky Whitehead has stacked two good games together, but we cannot have a relapse with bad decision making. Keep the momentum going and give the offense favorable field position.
- Need Demarcus Lawrence to take advantage of Trent Williams absence and pressure, sack, strip Cousins. Get home!
- Crowd noise. Let’s go AT&T Stadium!! This is a game where we need the crowd noise to be loud and help rattle Cousins.
- Continue to be resilient and keep making the 2nd half adjustments and we’ll win this game.
- Get the ball to the escape valve, and that means Cole Beasley. Beasley will be covered by the Redskins 3rd best corner most likely, and that means 1st down city. Let’s go!
Here are my 5 reason why the Cowboys beat the Redskins
1. #2 vs #22
That is the Cowboys running attack vs the Redskins rushing defense. In the last meeting, the Redskins did hold Zeke to 83 yards and 2 fumbles. That was game 2 of the season, and they’ll be facing a much improved Zeke. It could be a scary scene for the Redskins. Zeke won’t come out and say he care’s about records, but he does. Knowing this, look for Zeke to go after Emmitt’s 155 yards on Thanksgiving record. Could it happen? We’ll see.
2. 6-1 vs Redskins on Thanksgiving
These two storied franchises have met 7 times on Thanksgiving and the Cowboys own the Redskins. This game means a lot for both teams, but the Cowboys have been playing at another level this year, and they will not lose at home on Thanksgiving. They will move to 7-1 all-time against the Redskins.
3. Offensive Line vs Redskins Defensive Line
The Cowboys have faced some of the best defenses this season, and last week against the Ravens illustrated what this offensive line will do to a defense in the 2nd half. The Cowboys time of possession on offense has worn down guys, this should be another game where the 2nd half shows the Cowboys pulling away for the win.
4. Dak Prescott
Prescott’s play cannot be denied. We’ve already seen him orchestrate game winning drives, and clutch 2 minute drills in several games this season. There is something to be said about leaving too much time on the clock with Prescott. If this game is close in the final minute and it is on Dak’s shoulder to get the team in winning position it is game over, he gets it done. Yes, Romo did the same thing, but there were too many times where he would also throw the pick to end the game. Dak is not the risk taker that Romo is, which is illustrated by Dak’s two interceptions — quite impressive.
For me, both these teams have promising youth that will keep them in the hunt for several years. But, when I look at the coaches, I give the edge to the Cowboys. Marinelli vs McVay; Linehan vs Barry. The edge goes to the Cowboys in this regard. I’ve tuned to the Redskins games outside playing the Cowboys and even Gruden has had some questionable decision making. These small things can determine the final outcome of this game – the game within the game per se. Advantage is Cowboys.