Dallas Cowboys: A Thanksgiving rivalry matchup revisited

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 21: Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 21, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 21: Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 21, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys will be spending their Thanksgiving with the Washington Redskins. What factors matter in the battle for first place?

The Dallas Cowboys will take on the Washington Redskins for the second time this season. This rivalry will be re-ignited as Dallas will be looking to grab first place in the NFC East. This game is important for a couple of reasons which we will get into later, but for right now let’s take a look at some key factors heading into this Week 12 matchup.

The real McCoy?
Colt McCoy is an enigma, to say the least. After being taken in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Cleveland Browns and was thought to be a future star. Since then he has basically been utilized in a backup role. With the Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins, he has never been the guy.

On Turkey Day he will be the Redskins only hope at quarterback. Sure, Washington signed Mark Sanchez this week (which is interesting for a variety of reasons) however McCoy should be the starter in this contest. Which means the Cowboys will be facing a player who has 27 touchdowns to 23 Interceptions on his career.

During his short stint on Sunday as the Redskins primary quarterback, he completed 50 percent of his passes (6-12) for 54 yards, a touchdown, and a 90.3 quarterback rating. He looked like how a backup quarterback should look, prepared. The Dallas Cowboys are familiar with McCoy after he led the Redskins to an upset against Dallas in 2014.

These are two completely different teams four years later and currently, both are also trending in different directions. Wins against Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan both show just how lethal this defense can be to an opposing passing attack.

Expect the Cowboys to give McCoy everything they have and more as they get a boost from some players returning from injury. Speaking of which…

Washington’s injury situation
The Washington Redskins are absolutely decimated along the offensive line. But realistically their injury problem touches every position. Running back, Adrian Peterson has been dealing with a shoulder injury.

Jamison Crowder has not practiced for weeks thanks to an ankle injury. Another starting offensive lineman, Trent Williams has been limited with a thumb injury. Running back Chris Thompson has been out with a rib injury and even McCoy has been dealing with a hand/shoulder injury.

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The main takeaway here is that the Redskins are going to struggle to protect Colt McCoy. The Dallas Cowboys may see both Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton return to full practice this week which would give an added boost to what has already been an impressive pass rush.

The loss of Thompson and the continued absence of Crowder are huge as they are two of Washington’s most potent weapons. Defensively Washington could be without Daron Payne as he has been limited all week with a shoulder injury.

If he sits this game out, that would be a massive blow to the ability to stop the run. The Dallas Cowboys have gotten better and healthier on both sides of the ball which should give them the edge on Thursday.

Cowboys offensive renaissance
The Dallas Cowboys have scored 20 plus points in their last two games and appear to be finding themselves on that side of the ball. Controlling the clock and tiring out defenses with the ground game, Dallas has had a plan that has worked fairly well over the last two weeks.

Washington is dealing with a ton of injuries and just finding 53 players currently on their roster to play could be an issue. This should present Dallas with a ton of fantastic matchups they would not normally have.

Sure the first time the Dallas Cowboys faced this team, it appeared to be a bit of a snoozefest until late in the second half. This was prior to Dallas adding Amari Cooper to their receiving corps and really finding balance along the offensive line.

The Cowboys still managed to score 17 points as Dak Prescott finished that contest with 273 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott has carried this team to victory over the last two weeks and the Dallas Cowboys offensive game plan has been centered around him.

Giving Elliott a boatload of carries in this contest is a must. With Zeke currently on a hot streak in terms of production, I would expect that to carry over into this Thanksgiving rivalry matchup.

Adrian Peterson VS Ezekiel Elliott
Ahhhh what could have been… It does not seem so long ago that Adrian Peterson was being considered as a player guaranteed to end his career with a star on his helmet. Boy how that has changed.

Instead of going to Dallas, Peterson spent time with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals. Both of those destinations did not work out, and eventually, he was acquired by the Cowboys second biggest rival, the Washington Redskins.

Peterson has 171 rushing attempts, 723 yards on the ground, six rushing touchdowns, 72.3 yards per game, and 4.2 yards per carry. For a 33-year-old, those numbers are absolutely incredible and they show just how special of a talent Peterson has been in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys elected to draft their bell cow running back, as they took Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall during the 2016 NFL draft.

While his career has not gone as smoothly as some had hoped, today is a new day and Elliott is absolutely balling. So far in 2018 he has recorded 191 rushing attempts, 953 rushing yards, five touchdowns, and is averaging 5 yards per carry.

He also is averaging around 95 rushing yards per contest. In the passing game, Elliott has been more dangerous than ever netting a career-high 42 receptions, two receiving touchdowns, and 341 receiving yards.

On Turkey Day both of these backs will be looking to have a dominant performance. Elliott specifically will be looking to cross the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his career. No matter how you look at it, this game will be all about controlling the clock and taking away the Redskins opportunities on offense.

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Elliott will be integral in doing this and should feature prominently early on.

  • Published on 11/21/2018 at 18:00 PM
  • Last updated at 11/21/2018 at 08:54 AM