After pulling off an ugly win on Thanksgiving, the Redskins play another Thursday game this week. This time they’re heading to D-town to take on the increasingly vulnerable Cowboys in a battle for 2nd place in the NFC East. Neither team is playing particularly well right now, but both still have a (long) shot at a wildcard spot if they can win this week’s game. The NFC is full of good teams and the playoff race is unforgiving, so the season in on the line this week for both of these clubs.
First, let’s take a look at the Cowboys. With Ezekiel Elliot now finally serving his suspension, the much-lauded Dallas offense looks lost. Dak Prescott has seen a significant regression and looks like a completely different guy without the rushing attack that opened up the passing game for him. Their top running back is now former Redskin Alfred Morris (who is making a decent showing of it with 5.8 yards per carry since Zeke has been out), but is obviously no substitute for Elliot. We here in Washington are all too familiar with a quarterback having an amazing rookie season and following it up with a disappointing one. Time will tell if this is a blip on the radar of a long and successful career or if Elliot’s absence has helped to expose Prescott as overrated.
The story of the Redskins this week is the story of their whole season. INJURIES. It’s nearly miraculous that they’re even still in contention for a playoff spot considering the lengthy list of players they’ve lost this season. Among the most significant recent losses was Chris Thompson, gone for the season along with Rob Kelley, further decimating their already depleted running back corps. Luckily for the Skins, rookie Samaje Perine has filled in admirably, turning in back to back 100+ yard games.
Cousins has been statistically excellent as one of only three (!) Redskins to start every game this season. He played very well in the loss to New Orleans, which should rightly be placed nearly entirely at the feet of the defense, and reasonably well in last week’s victory over the Giants. He should be able to have some success against a questionable Dallas secondary this week, particularly if Josh Doctson can continue to be a viable target for him. Another small bright spot for the Skins offense is that it looks like Trent Williams, who is their best option even when he’s injured, will be available to play.
The Redskins ought to be able to win this game, but it’s going to come down to the defense. (After coughing up a 15 point lead in less than three minutes two weeks ago, we all know how bad they can be.) Even without Elliot, the Cowboys have had a decent run game and the Skins have given up over 100 yards on the ground in six of their last eight games. If they can’t stop the run, it will likely be a long and fruitless afternoon for the Burgundy and Gold.