Dallas Cowboys: NFL matchup preview Week 13

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Dak Prescott
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Dak Prescott /

The Dallas Cowboys will face off against the Washington Redskins in a pivotal NFC showdown. Here is a preview of this potential playoff elimination game.

The Dallas Cowboys have a must-win game on Thursday as they will take on the Washington Redskins which will be the second installment of this rivalry series. It is no secret that one of these teams will have a higher draft pick or a closer shot at making the playoffs when it is all said and done, so this is a pivotal game for both sides.

Both teams are 5-6 and with most of the NFL being under .500 right now winning is everything.

The situation:

The Dallas Cowboys may have an easier time at making the playoffs as the Washington Redskins have already lost to Dallas earlier this season however a win here would split the season series.

The New York Giants have basically waived the white flag on the season officially benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith and now Washington and Dallas must figure out exactly how they want their seasons to turn out.

A win here for the Dallas Cowboys plus a favorable matchup against the Giants basically make these two must-win games if they want any hope in making the playoffs. Sure it has been rough sailing these last three weeks but it is not exactly as if these are easy opponents Dallas has fallen to.

The Washington Redskins won their last game but remain very inconsistent, their first win over the last three weeks came against the Giants.

More from Dallas Cowboys

Alfred Morris VS the Washington Redskins defensive line:

Alfred Morris has had some impressive statistical totals over the last three weeks however they have not translated into explosive plays. The Dallas Cowboys main playmaker Ezekiel Elliott remains sidelined until December 24th so something has to be done.

Morris has shown he still has some gas left in the tank but has yet to show the fire that Elliott brings to the table. It is possible he can rekindle some of that extra spark against his former team. Washington’s defense is ranked 15th in the NFL against the run so there will be yards there to take.

Can the Dallas Cowboys offense get it together?

On paper the Dallas Cowboys offense looks very similar to 2016 except for a couple of offensive linemen and Ezekiel Elliott, and what a difference that makes. The Cowboys have been averaging a little over seven points without Elliott and have been very poor at adjusting to life without their star running back.

Both Zack Martin and Tyron Smith should be active for this game so realistically we are just dealing with an offense that is in a funk. Dak Prescott has forced some throws during this period and his wide receivers are not really giving him any help.

When the best wide receiver on your team only has four touchdowns and a litany of mediocre games, it will be tough to stay above .500. Not that this is all Dez Bryant’s fault, but he is not helping matters.

Cole Beasley was thought to be one of the best quick route/possession receivers in the league but he too has fallen off but at least he has managed to grab as many touchdowns as Bryant.

Terrance Williams is the only Cowboys receiver to go over 100 yards this season and he does not even have a touchdown. I guess, what I am getting at is can the Cowboys play like themselves?

On paper they should be putting up at least 20 points on offense, hopefully, an embarrassing Thanksgiving showing will be the igniter that sparks this offense. If not some big changes could occur if the season is lost.

The Cowboys have some solid matchups that they need to exploit, the Redskins have half of their team on IR, Dallas needs to take advantage of that. If Washington with a depleted offensive line and multiple playmakers on both sides of the ball on injured reserve can find a way to beat a basically healthy Cowboys team, this season is over.

Dallas will need to at least score 28 points in this contest as Kirk Cousins is not afraid of taking shots downfield. Dallas also needs Prescott typically to have four touchdowns against Washington to come away with a win, so getting this offense going is critical.

Next: What would get Jason Garrett fired?

Dez Bryant VS Josh Norman:

The last time Norman and Bryant faced off it was not really much of a battle. Norman was dealing with broken ribs and did not shadow his rival like he normally would. Dez broke off some big plays but has disappeared throughout the season.

Four catches for 39 yards just is not going to cut it this week if the Cowboys have any hope of taking a step in the right direction. Norman is healthy and should shadow Bryant. Dez has not had a 100-yard receiving game all season and only four touchdowns on the year.

If there were ever a time for Bryant to reignite his rivalry with Norman and have an explosive game, this is it.