It wasn’t pretty. The first half could have been taken directly from a game in the early 1920’s. But, the Redskins were able to finish the job in the second half to keep their slim playoff hopes alive on Thanksgiving night. With the floundering Giants in the rear-view mirror, Washington must look towards a date with the Dallas Cowboys. It is the rivalry where the unexpected should be expected. Both teams are battling injuries and are struggling to stay relevant in the 2017 season. The Redskins will march into Dallas looking for their 45th win all time against America’s team.
Keys to the Game
1) Don’t be afraid of the QB Sneak – For whatever reason, Jay Gruden has an allergy to allowing his QB to execute a QB Sneak on 3rd or 4th and 1. It has cost them a game already this year, and a few in the past. If you want to keep the Cowboys’ offense on the sidelines, Gruden needs to trust Cousins to execute a QB Sneak instead of running his running back into a brick wall.
2) Contain Dak and the Read Option – While Dak Prescott has struggled as a passer since Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended, his legs have been valuable. It is going to be on Zach Brown, Preston Smith and the rest of the linebackers to contain Prescott on all read option runs. The game could be decided on a bust assignment in the running game.
3) Eliminate pre-snap penalties – Penalties can drive a coach nuts. What can make a coach go bald or gray a lot faster are pre-snap penalties. We saw them cost the Redskins field position and short yardage situations in New Orleans. We then saw them commit additional pre-snap penalties against a Giants team that should not have been allowed to stay in the game as long as they were. Penalties committed by the Redskins will put an opportunistic and playoff hungry Cowboys in a position to win Thursday night.
4) Eliminate dropped balls – As great has of a season that Kirk Cousins has had this year, he could be having a better one if it were not for dropped balls. The Redskins receiving core has the 5th highest drop rate in the NFL at 5.2%. Cleaning this up will extend drives and keep the Cowboys’ offense off the field. If Jamison Crowder and company can have a cleaner game, they can easily run up the score.
5) Take advantage of Dallas injuries on defense – While the Cowboys are not in as bad of an injury situation as the Redskins, there is still enough there for the them to take advantage of. Sean Lee being absent creates a bigger hole for the Cowboys than one realizes. With Lee out of the line-up, opposing QB’s passer rating is almost 20 points higher than with him in the line-up. The running game also sees an increase in production with Lee out of the line-up. Yards per carry for a team increases by almost 2.5 yards. If the Redskins cannot take advantage of such a glaring deficiency, then they do not deserve a win.
Prediction: The Redskins are catching the Cowboys at the perfect time. Injuries and suspensions will allow for them to take advantage in the running game and on the defensive front. Look for another Pro Bowl caliber performance by Ryan Kerrigan and a third straight 100-yard game by Samaje Perine. Captain Kirk will do it again and lead the Redskins to their second straight victory and keep the playoff window slightly cracked.
Line: DAL -2.0, Prediction: WAS 27, DAL 20
Front Four Predictions
Last Week: 3-1
Season Record: 6-2
NO -4.0 (CAR 24 NO 34)
LAR -6.5 (LAR 23 ARI 16)
PHI -5.5 (PHI 30 SEA 17)
BAL -3.0 (DET 17 BAL 21)