ANALYSIS NFL

Cowboys vs. Redskins: Thanksgiving Preview

DALLAS, Texas – As big as it gets, it’s apparent that the Dallas Cowboys are playing with their season and coaching positions on the line as they look ahead to divisional rivals Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day.

Not too long ago – two weeks to be exact, the Dallas Cowboys were 3-5 and many had concluded that the expedition of their hopeful play-off season had run its course, following a 28-14 embarrassing loss at home to the Tennessee Titans. Surprisingly after two road wins, the Cowboys now have a chance to move into first place in the NFC East.

The Washington Redskins will come into town holding the division lead, but their season took a turn for the worst on Sunday. Starting quarterback Alex Smith broke his tibia and fibula in a gruesome-looking injury as the Redskins lost to the Houston Texans, 23-21, at home.

 

Can McCoy Ruin Cowboys Thanksgiving?

Many may not be a true believer in Colt McCoy as he’s basically been a career backup QB since he entered the league in 2010. On Sunday, McCoy finished the game for the Redskins with 54 yards through the air, completing 6-out-of-12 of his passes along with 35 yards rushing on five carries. McCoy has started 25 games in his eight-year career as a pro. He’s only won seven out of those 25 games and the last time we witnessed McCoy as a starter was in 2014 when he filled in for former Redskins quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. In that season, McCoy threw for 1,057 yards in just four starts while completing 71% of his passes. He only had two wins that season – one of which came on the road against the Cowboys where he completed 25-out-of-30 of his passes for 300 yards.

So, it’s no secret that McCoy is familiar with ‘Jerry World’ and he’ll be riding on that previous victory coming into the game Thursday Night; and he’ll have RB Adrian Peterson and TE/WR Jordan Reed there as offensive support. But his task will be much tougher this go around. It’s important to note that in 2014, the Cowboys were ranked 19th in total defense with a great deal of vulnerability, particularly in their secondary. That 12-4 season was ridden on the coat tails of their offense that finished with 6,362 yards of total offense, therefore its safe to argue that McCoy had an easier task back then. On Thursday, Colt McCoy will be facing the best defense in the league. Even though their ranked 8th defensively in total yards, the Cowboys are 5th in rushing yards allowed per game and top 10 against the pass. This is not the same defense he’ll be facing, and Colt McCoy will have to pull a miracle and ask for prayer to beat the Cowboys this week.

 

Keys To Cowboys Victory

Don’t beat yourself. That’s it. If the Cowboys show up Thursday Night and don’t beat themselves like they are characterized to do, they will win the game easily. Now, what do I mean when I say don’t beat yourself? Most people associate ‘beating yourself’ with a ton of penalties and mistakes throughout the course of a game, which is fair. However, when it comes to the Cowboys, it’s not just about penalties. The Cowboys can beat themselves by not continuing to do the one thing that ultimately makes them successful against their opponents – and that’s feeding Ezekiel Elliott the football.

The entire world, including those that live under a rock know that in order for the Cowboys to have a fighting chance they must feed Zeke 20 to 30 times a game – whether I’d be on the ground, through the air or both. In their loss against the Titans, Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball 17 times, only six of those touches came in the second half. In their loss a week prior to the Redskins, Elliott only carried the ball a total of 15 times. He’s clearly their best offensive weapon, even with the addition of Amari Cooper. In their last two road victories, Zeke had a total of 55 touches, via on the ground and through the air. When the Cowboys are creative with Ezekiel Elliott, there’s not a single defense that can stop them, but they have to get out of their own way in order to realize that.

Winner Takes All

If the Cowboys can increase their win streak to three with a home victory over the Redskins Thursday Night, both teams will be tied for first place in the NFC East with a 6-5 record. However, the Cowboys will have much more major upside over the Redskins for one particular reason:

  1. A slightly harder schedule w/o Alex Smith – The Redskins still have to face other divisional rivals, Philadelphia Eagles (twice) and the New York Giants as do the Cowboys – but they also have to face them without their starting quarterback. Even though Philly is 4-6 and third in the division, a 48-7 blowout from the New Orleans Saints may have been a wakeup call for Doug Pederson and the Eagles. When it comes to the Giants I’d give the Redskins a shot with Alex Smith; without Alex Smith they will lose that game. Their defense is much more stronger than the Giants, but they won’t be victorious because the Giant’s offense will eventually find a way to score with Barkley, Beckham Jr and Shepard.

After the Cowboys hand the Redskins their second loss in a row, they could potentially lose the next four out of five games. Which wouldn’t necessarily deem them to be fraudulent, but it will prove that no one was ever a true believer in them. To stay up to date on all things Cowboys and more, be sure to subscribe to You Can Argue That Sports and receive notifications of new posts and podcasts by email.

   

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