Initially picked to finish last in the NFC East, the Redskins had a rocky start to the season that saw them benching their starting QB, but once they found their groove under Kirk Cousins, they locked up an admittedly weak NFC East division.
Both teams are facing off in Dallas on Sunday, and surprisingly, oddsmakers at the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas opened the game with the Cowboys as -4.0 point favorites late on Sunday. The line has since moved to -3.5, but appears to be holding steady.
Keep in mind that the point spread here is not a predicted margin of victory, though the numbers certainly look like it and often come very close to the actual result of a game. The oddsmakers' objective in setting the line for an NFL game is to make sure to get equal action from bettors on both sides of the wager.
In this case though, the line may be complicated by the fact that the Redskins have already locked up the NFC East division title, and could be looking to rest at least some of their starters.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that while his team has every intention of beating the Cowboys (*snicker*), the Redskins will also "have to be smart" about injuries.
Asked if he’d consider limiting quarterback Kirk Cousins’ snaps against Dallas as a precaution, even if healthy, Gruden said he’d discuss the decision with his staff.
"If he’s injury-free, a lot will depend on who’s playing around him," Gruden said. "We’ll make a decision and go forward."
Washington is the only team in the NFL that has locked in its playoff seed; they know they have the No. 4 NFC seed and will host a playoff game in two weeks, which means they are the team most likely to rest its starters in Week 17.
The Redskins have won four of their last five games (with the sole loss coming to the Cowboys), and there's no way they should be underdogs in Dallas, even if they are just 2-6 on the road.
Unless the smart money coming in on the game is betting on the Redskins resting their starters.
Which leaves Cowboys fans in a bit of a dilemma. The Cowboys appear to be locked into the fourth overall draft pick with a loss in the season finale against the Redskins, but could easily drop to the eighth overall spot in case they win against an undermanned Redskins team.
Then again, even a shorthanded Redskins team is good for a touchdown or two; the Cowboys in turn have only scored one or fewer offensive touchdowns in nine games this season.
If you were a betting person, would you take the Cowboys as -3.5 point favorites or would you take the Redskins?