By: Greg Rector
Washington Football Team (3-7) vs Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
The annual Thanksgiving Day home game for the Cowboys sees the Football Team come to town coming off a win against the Bengals, while the hosts are also coming off a victory against the Vikings. With identical 3-7 records, the bitter rivals will clash to see one team temporarily in first place, while the other will be the last-place team in the NFC Least division. As I write this it was just announced there will be no primetime game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, due to the Ravens issues with COVID-19.
Keys To The Game :
The Cowboys must follow last weeks 60-minute effort with more of the same. The last two games have been so refreshing to see the Cowboys play for a full 60 minutes. This must be the case again against Washington. As y’all know it’s my biggest gripe about this team, not playing complete games. I can handle losing a game as long as EFFORT is apparent. The Cowboys will also have the inspiration to win this one for strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul, who suffered a serious medical crisis, forcing the Cowboys to cancel practice earlier this week.
Ezekiel Elliott finally cracked the 100-yard barrier against the Vikings, a repeat performance would be ideal against a young but aggressive Washington defense. Throw in the healthy dose of Tony Pollard and his more explosive carries and what do you know the Cowboys have a balanced attack. This will make the receiving corps even more effective as the threat of the run will keep the Football Teams defense honest. Andy Dalton was pretty impressive against the Vikings. He is unflappable and that is such an important trait for any quarterback to have. The most important part of the game to me will still come down to the play of the offensive line. Believe it or not but Looney, McGovern (shock), and new RT Zach Martin gave up exactly ZERO pressures last week. More of that will be needed against Washington.
Suddenly this side of the football is looking better in the last two games. Still giving up too many points, however, we’re seeing things like 4 and 5 tacklers rallying to the ball carrier or receiver. They’re tackling better, and actually caused turnovers. While far from being anywhere closet elite, again the EFFORT has been greatly improved. Donovan Wilson’s play has been so refreshing, too bad Trevon Diggs is injured or we would actually have at least half the secondary that is capable of playing at the high level the NFL requires. The other change has been a move away from Nolan’s preferred 3-4 defensive scheme to a more traditional 4-3 that these guys can actually succeed in. The key for me will be putting pressure on Alex Smith, who is not as mobile as he once was obviously. The easy winner of the Comeback Player of the Year, Smith has been effective using his two running backs and then finding his receivers when needed. Make him uncomfortable and like with any quarterback his effectiveness will be diminished.
This will be a battle of attrition as it always is when these two face each other. The trenches will decide the game, If the same balanced attack is there for Dallas then I see revenge for the week 7 loss. Cowboys fans celebrate Thanksgiving Day with a 27 to 17 victory.