Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- Dallas has a lot left to play for with the NFC East division title still a possibility if the faltering Eagles lose.
- Washington has been eliminated from the playoffs but still has a chance at a .500 season with a win this week and we should expect their best shot this week.
- Dallas won the first meeting between these teams without the services of quarterback Dak Prescott.
- Rookie quarterback Sam Howell will make his first career regular-season appearance for the Commanders.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
The dream is still alive for the Cowboys, as they can win the NFC East with a win plus an Eagles loss, and have an outside shot at the 1-seed if the 49ers were to lose as well. Due to that possibility, we can expect Dallas to be fully focused and prepared as they enter this game and try to “control what they can control” with a statement victory to finish off their season with a terrific 13-4 record. The one caveat here is that the Eagles are playing a New York Giants team that is locked into the NFC’s 6-seed and has nothing to play for or gain by risking key players against a team that has already beaten them handily once this season. If Philadelphia were to take significant early control of that game, it is feasible that the approach of the Cowboys coaches could change mid-game as far as protecting their own key players. If the Eagles win, the Cowboys will end up as the 5-seed in the NFC and have a road game against the Bucs next week, which is coincidentally where they started their season and they were thoroughly dominated in a 19-3 loss.
As we have discussed all year, the Cowboys offense is built around the strength of their offensive line and running backs. They build off of the pressure their running game puts on the opposing defense by using play action and other concepts to open things up through the air. Dak Prescott does a lot of very good things but it should be noted that he is tied for the league lead with 14 interceptions despite missing five games early on. Dak has only one 300-yard passing game and that was in Week 16 against the Eagles which was primarily fueled by his own early pick-6 which put the Cowboys in an early deficit. The Cowboys play at one of the league’s fastest paces (2nd in situation-neutral pace for the season) and run the ball at the 4th highest rate in the league, providing a unique blend of speed and power. This week, they expect to get Pro Bowl running back Tony Pollard back from his one week absence, bringing the Cowboys 1-2 running back punch with Pollard and Elliott back into the fold. Pollard’s absence was noticeable last week as the offense lacked the explosion and speed that has been evident for much of the season, especially with Prescott healthy. Due to Dak’s mistake-prone ways, the importance of this game, and the strength this offense is built on, we should expect the Cowboys to lean heavily into their identity and lean on their running backs against a good but not unbeatable Washington front. Shot plays and intermediate concepts will also be used, primarily off of play action, as a means to leverage the attention that Washington will surely be giving to the running game.