Two weeks ago, the Cowboys traveled to the nation’s capitol, benches in hand, and went up 24-0 on their division rivals at halftime before slowing things down in the second half. Their 27-20 final score distracted everyone from how early the game was decided, but now they’ll have another chance to show that they’re clearly the better team when they host the Washington Football Team the day after Christmas.
With the 49ers’ loss on Thursday night, Dallas sealed their first playoff berth since 2018, but a win on Sunday night in AT&T Stadium would clinch a division title. It could also happen earlier in the day, but the Cowboys are trying to earn the top seed in the NFC as well. That makes for a showdown of two teams with plenty to play for. Do our writers feel confident in the Cowboys notching a fourth straight win in December and improving to 5-0 in the division?
When Washington has the ball
Protect Kelvin Joseph
Two weeks ago, the Cowboys defense teed off on quarterback Taylor Heinicke - who came off the COVID-19 list in time for this game - before doing the same to Kyle Allen later on in that game. All four of their top pass rushers got home, and that figures to be the same in this one.
But the biggest priority for Dan Quinn has to be protecting his rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph, who is poised to make his first career start on Sunday night after Jourdan Lewis landed on the COVID-19 list Friday. Whether Joseph replaces Lewis in the slot or plays outside as Anthony Brown goes back to his old position in the slot remains to be seen. But Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner is surely going to ask Heinicke to throw in the rookie’s direction early and often. If the defense can offer support to Joseph, they can take away a sudden Achilles heel for a unit that’s been dominant as of late.
When Dallas has the ball
Turn on the grill and get ready for some burgers
Much has been made of the Cowboys’ offensive struggles as of late, but four of their last five games have been on the road, with the one home game featuring a 33-point outing from Dallas. The scoring splits between the Cowboys’ home and road games is stark, and would seem to suggest that the offense will be more aggressive in this one.
At halftime of their last game against this team, Dallas was on pace to score over 40 points. This time, they should play more aggressive and go for that kind of gaudy point total without the need to play it safe. Additionally, Joseph’s debut on defense might offer more incentive for Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott to score more, especially if the defense does struggle. With this game being played on Sunday night in front of a national audience, it would certainly be a nice time to remind everyone how deadly this offense can be when it’s cooking with gas.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
This is an opportunity for the Cowboys to start building for the playoffs, and by that I mean get back to scoring 30+ points. They need to get the offense clicking, obviously. Back home at AT&T Stadium against a Washington Football Team they just beat handily seems like the perfect opportunity. And the defense is even better now that Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore are back on the field, plus Osa Odighizuwa is expected to return.
A late WFT score will make it look closer than it actually was, but I’m thinking a 34-23 win for the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys vs the Washington Football Team round two is upon us and the Boys have just as much to play for this week as WFT does trying to make the playoffs. The Cowboys are playing for playoff seeding and with a win this week would be able to move one set closer to securing the second and possibly first place in the division. It won’t be easy though with the WFT getting back their starting quarterback this week, but the Cowboys have gone up against this quarterback and picked up the win so they should be able to do it again.
The real question this week is will the Cowboys offense led by Dak Prescott be able to get his offense back on track. The defense should be able to keep the WFT offense in check but they need to be able to rely on their offense to put points on the board. That’s exactly what I think will happen this week as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard pick up the tough yards and Prescott is able to get Amari Cooper involved. Look for Cooper to go off this week helping the Cowboys pick up the win.
Cowboys 35, Washington Football Team 10.
For weeks I’ve been predicting every game that the Cowboys offense would get back on track. After watching the last three games, I just can’t keep having the same optimism that this offense will figure out their problems. Thankfully, the Dallas defense is playing as well as any unit in football, and the WFT offense does not pose much of a threat. Once again, the defense leads the way, putting constant pressure on Taylor Heinicke. The offense doesn’t do much, but the defense is good enough it won’t matter.
Give me the Cowboys in a sloppy one, 20-16.
Washington has dropped a couple now after going on its four-game win-streak last month. The Cowboys, having just clenched a playoff spot, still have the one-seed within reach. Though the WFT might still have something worthy playing for given they aren’t yet eliminated from the playoffs, their odds are long and their roster suddenly thin due to the COVID/Reserve List. That’s a recipe for a Cowboy win and, hopefully, a little offensive rhythm to develop.
The Cowboys get a late Christmas present, getting to play the Football Team with a chance to celebrate an NFC East title at AT&T Stadium. But with the Cardinals on the schedule next week, the offense is running out of opportunities to gain momentum. This week, the offense needs to play a complete four quarters of football, which they have struggled to do lately. Capitalizing when they get to the red zone is another area we need to see improvement in before January and needs to start this week.
From a defensive perspective, there isn’t a whole lot that has changed since their last meeting. While Washington will avoid holding onto the ball in the pocket and letting the Dallas pass rush get through, throwing quickly on a Cowboys secondary likely playing press coverage will likely lead to a few turnovers. Just ask Mike Glennon. So while Dallas has already wrapped up the division before game time, the defense still gets it done, only allowing one touchdown. Behind a solid first half, the Cowboys offense does enough to put it away early.
Cowboys 24, Football Team 13.
Facing a division opponent always presents a challenge. Facing them twice in three weeks is unique and depending on the teams make up, could either be a good or bad thing. In the Cowboys case, this should be a good thing. The WFT is banged up, and from the jump an already inferior talented team compared to the Cowboys.
There is a good chance the Cowboys could secured the division crown even before kickoff, but ultimately it doesn’t matter, the Cowboys have there eyes set on bigger things as they are playing for higher seeding positioning and will not take their foot off the gas against this Football team. I look to see the Cowboys offense get going here, and despite the Cowboys dealing with something Covid issues on defense, I still see them being opportunistic and too much for this WFT offense.
Cowboys get their 11th win in dominant fashion, 30-17.
The Dallas Cowboys pretty much completely dominated the Washington Football Team a few weeks back and there’s no reason to believe they won’t do so once again in Week 16. They not only have the advantage of having home-field advantage this time around, but also have the benefit of a full week of practice unlike WFT, who were coming off a short week after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday night. Unless the Cowboys drop the ball (no pun intended), they should be able to complete the sweep of their second divisional opponent like they did last week against the New York Giants.
Score prediction: 37-13, Cowboys.
The Cowboys offense has been very underwhelming in recent weeks and we keep waiting for them to break out. While it could again be another disappointing performance, I’m going to keep things festive and say the light switch comes on in front of the home crowd of AT&T Stadium. Dak gets it together, Amari Cooper has a big game as the squeaky wheel gets the touchdowns. Expect a big game from Cooper with over 150 yards and multiple touchdowns. I’m also going to go even bolder and say Micah Parsons heats up the DPOY race with his first ever defensive touchdown. Cowboys win big.
Cowboys 41, Football Team 16.
Every single time the Cowboys have played a divisional team this year, I’ve been worried that I’m too confident. Each time, I’ve been vindicated in thinking that the gap between Dallas and the other three teams is quite large. This week, I’m feeling similar worry; Ron Rivera’s teams are never an easy out, especially when their season is on the line the way Washington’s is right now.
Still, the Cowboys are a top team in the NFL right now, and they’re a completely different beast at home too. The Football Team will be without their top cornerback in William Jackson III, as well as safety Landon Collins, and I see Amari Cooper having another big game against this team - he’s got 384 yards and three touchdowns on 18 catches against Washington in AT&T Stadium - en route to a big, big win.
Cowboys win 44-22.