Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: No Thanks Given

Cowboys WR Cole Beasley needs to find ways to get open on Thanksgiving to make plays. Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley needs to find ways to get open on Thanksgiving to make plays.
Photo Courtesy: Darryl Briggs
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By Zach Walker

Game Info
Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys
Thursday – November 24 – 3:30 pm
AT&T Stadium – Arlington – Texas

Records Before the Game
Washington Redskins (6-3-1, 3-1 Away)
Dallas Cowboys (9-1, 4-1 Home)

Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
TE Jordan Reed – If we’re talking about truly dynamic offensive weapons that put opponents in a bind defensively, Jordan Reed is a top-5 option in the NFL. He’s got dominating tight end size, wide receiver hands, and running back speed. Worse still, Kirk Cousins seemingly has an eye for knowing where he is, at any moment. The Cowboys do have an option to counter Reed in man coverage, in safety Byron Jones, but if the Cowboys man him up against Reed, that’ll put added pressure on JJ Wilcox in safety coverage, and also Jeff Heath for that matter. Jordan Reed is a matchup nightmare and the thin secondary of the Cowboys are going to have to all step up, because though Reed is their top threat, he isn’t their only weapon, they have a stacked deck.

Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
DE DeMarcus Lawrence – One hand washes the other, and the pass rush helps the coverage. Watching the Ravens game, I thought of the 2017 NFL Draft and just how badly the Cowboys need some fire starters along their defensive line. When the Cowboys rushed their four and Ravens could just engage with the men across from them, it was a wash. This Thursday is a slightly different story. The best offensive lineman for Washington, Trent Williams is in the middle of a suspension and won’t be blocking Kirk Cousins’ blind side. That’s the crack in the armor that the Cowboys must exploit to gain an advantage. I’d like the guy giving Cousins a hard time to be Lawrence, because I’d like to see him really bust out, but really any rusher will do. Jack Crawford, David Irving, Maliek Collins, anybody. The Cowboys need a hero, badly.

Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Washington Play-Action Passing Game – The power of the Washington offense is it’s play-action passing attack. The Cowboys have a supremely strong running game, but don’t really strike gold off the play-action game because of the difference in weapons. Washington has four weapons that make their PA game the best in the league. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon have PhD’s in deep threat, Jordan Reed and his breakaway speed, and the new blood Jamison Crowder is fitting in well with his own brand of downfield danger. The Washington running game is what the team rolls out to sustain themselves, then a play-action deep shot when ever they’re feeling advantageous. In those play-action situations, the Cowboys’ pass rush has to make Kirk Cousins shiver in the pocket or this will be a from behind, chase game.

Which group will give Washington fits?
The Cowboys’ Pass Protection – Honestly, I really can’t think of anything that will truly give Washington big trouble, so I’ll go the obligatory Cowboys’ offensive line route. I’ll choose their pass protection, this go ’round. The Cowboys have only given up 20 sacks on the season, while the Washington pass rush have collected 27. The three main hatchet men are Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, and former college teammate of Dak Prescott, Preston Smith. What aides the Cowboys’ pass protection is Prescott’s mobility, but this another 3-4 defense, like the Ravens, and should provide plenty of great one-on-one matchups during the game. No sleeping on Chris Baker inside, either.

What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
It’s Washington versus Dallas, so records don’t mean anything. This game is going to be a last drop of effort wins type of game. These teams are both red-hot, can both hold the ball for the majority of the game, but Washington has a more established threatening passing game. This game is going to be a street fight, with no punches pulled. This game is going to be old-school NFC East hate-ball.

Prediction: Dallas 35 – Washington 31