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Cowboys @ Football Team: Writer predictions ahead of important division battle

Some final thoughts before the Cowboys meet the Football Team.

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cowboys are coming off a demoralizing 38-10 loss to the Cardinals in their first game with Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback. Things didn’t go well, especially for Dalton, as the offensive line was inconsistent. Now Dallas goes on the road to face Chase Young and a fearsome pass rush in Washington without Zack Martin.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is added pressure for the Cowboys to win after the Eagles got a victory over the Giants on Thursday night to take the lead in the NFC East. Dallas can reclaim the lead with a win of their own, as well as jump to a 2-0 record in the division before facing Philly next week. But can this depleted team, which now features six different backups in starting roles on offense, muster a win against the Football Team, who are trying to snap a four-game losing streak of their own?

When Washington has the ball

Fluster the quarterback

The Football Team offense is almost as bad as the Giants offense a few weeks ago, but with less stability at the quarterback position. Washington head coach Ron Rivera benched Dwayne Haskins two weeks ago in favor of Kyle Allen, who’s been marginally better but far from good. Their offense ranks 30th in DVOA, just ahead of the two New York teams, and dead last in pass offensive DVOA.

It’s not a tall task to make this offense look bad, but the best way to do it is to force Allen to beat them with his arm, which he likely can’t. This means taking away the easy throws underneath - he’s consistently been among the bottom five in intended air yards in both of his starts - and creating pressure to fluster him. Getting Randy Gregory back this week should help to that end as well.

When Dallas has the ball

Go full West Coast offense

Andy Dalton didn’t really show us anything last week except that he can’t avoid pressure the way Dak Prescott does. That’s not really a surprise, since only a handful of other quarterbacks can do what Dak does, but Dalton’s pass protection is going up against a better pass rush.

However, Washington’s defensive scheme puts their linebackers into shallow coverage at a high rate, and they’ve been terrible in coverage this year. Kellen Moore needs to go full West Coast offense and get the ball out of Dalton’s hands quickly to both mitigate the pass rush and attack these linebackers. CeeDee Lamb should naturally see a lot of targets out of the slot, as should Dalton Schultz. This will help them move the chains and keep the offense on schedule, something that rarely happened Monday night.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

DannyPhantom:

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this unexcited about watching this Dallas Football Team play. They’ve proven to us that they can’t beat the good teams, and now I’m really worried that will extend to the bad ones after Sunday. I expect Dalton to look more comfortable this time around as long as the protection doesn’t go to Hades in a handbasket.

They would be smart to lean on Ezekiel Elliott, and it would be super-fantastic if some of those good drives actually ended with points. The Washington offense can’t do much of anything, but they’re in luck as it doesn’t take much of anything to throw this Cowboys defense off the scent. In another frustrating game where this Cowboys team continues to underperform, look for heartbreak to come in the form of a last second kick that does not go our way.

Washington 20, Cowboys 19.

Tom Ryle:

Man, I just have little to no idea right now as the Cowboys and the Football Team are two of the worst franchises. Both are flailing under new head coaches, and both are not exactly working with elite QBs right now. My first inclination is to say that Dallas ekes out a win simply by cutting down the turnovers.

I don’t know how much faith I have in that actually happening, but if there is a team right now that the Cowboys should be able to deal with their passing game, it is the Team. So, even though I do it with great trepidation, I will go with Cowboys 24, Team 16.

Terence Watson:

The hits just keep on coming for the Cowboys. This week they will be without star right guard Zack Martin due to a concussion last week against the Cardinals. That along with the talent on the defensive line for the Washington Football Team spell bad news for this Cowboys offense, specifically quarterback Andy Dalton. For that reason I have the Cowboys losing this week.

Washington 21, Cowboys 17

Matt Holleran:

It’s been a while since a Cowboys’ game has had this little national buzz. Washington and Dallas both are just not very good football teams, and I believe that will be reflected on the field Sunday. I think this is a sloppy game with both teams turning the football over multiple times.

In the end, I just don’t see Washington being able to stop all of the weapons on the Dallas offense. I think the Dallas offensive line will give Dalton enough time to make some plays, and the defense will play a lot like they did against NY. It won’t be pretty, or exciting, but give me the Cowboys 21-17 in a gross game.

Dave Halprin:

Against all odds, the Cowboys will bounce back this week. Andy Dalton will settle down and stop holding the ball and will instead get it out of his hands quickly. He will allow the Cowboys wide receivers and running backs do the work with yards after catch. The Cowboys defense will start to recover from their horrendous start and do enough for the Cowboys to pick up a win.

Cowboys 21 - Washington 18

David Howman:

This game reminds me a lot of the Giants game just two weeks ago. After a blowout loss to the Browns, I didn’t see any way that I could actually predict the Cowboys to win a game. Then I looked at the Giants, and couldn’t possibly pick them to win. The same goes for Washington, who have a really stingy defense and an offense that refuses to score points no matter the defense they’re facing.

I think we’ll ultimately see a bounce back game from Dalton, and he’ll be better prepared for the state of his offensive line this time around. And against a defense that sometimes struggles to stop the run, especially in the red zone (they’ve allowed the fourth-most rushing touchdowns this year), I see Zeke putting up a big game on his end. It’ll be a slop fest, but that’s just NFC East football this year.

Cowboys 18, Washington FC 12