A real argument could be made that for both teams this could be the biggest game of the season to date. Two hated rivals squaring off for a division battle that will go a long way in deciding the fate of the NFC East this season. For the Cowboys, a win would mean silencing any noise that they are not the class of the division, and on the other side a win would make a five-game winning streak and would put the Football Team fully in the hunt for a division title.
This has the potential to be the game of the week across the NFL, and the implications for the playoffs could have big ramifications as well. It is not exaggerated how big of a win this could be for both organizations this week, and this has all the makings of a hard fought football game in D.C.
Here are five things to watch this week:
1. Trevon Diggs vs Terry McLaurin.
Of all the wide receivers Trevon Diggs has come to face this year, he still has not gotten the chance to face the one man who may have given him his toughest time during his rookie season. The difference in confidence, and quality of play, Diggs has shown this year as compared to last is night and day. Diggs has a league-leading nine interceptions so far this year, so it is a safe bet to think Diggs is going to be locked in with something to prove against McLaurin and that Football Team offense. A match up of two high level players playing at an elite level is must see TV.
2. What kind of impact will Neville Gallimore make on the interior?
The Cowboys finally look to be rounding into health here late in the season, and that comes with the expected addition of Neville Gallimore and his presence on the defensive line. There was much promise for the second-year defensive lineman coming out of camp, and the injury was really an unfortunate one as many believed this could be a break out year for Gallimore. Now that he should be back, albeit presumably on some what of a pitch count to start, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he will be able to make in the interior where the Cowboys could use as much talent as possible.
3. Antonio Gibson vs the run defense.
Gibson seemed to shine against the Cowboys defense last year, and most assuredly the Cowboys defenders have not forgotten his performances from last year as they use it as motivation heading into this week’s game. The Cowboys defense is not what it was last year, and with a ton of athletes, speed, and aggressiveness on that side of the ball now, the Cowboys will look to make things tough for the young running back. Out side of Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson is the WFT best weapon they have on offense and the Cowboys defense knows that, and will make it a point of emphasis to stop him from taking over this week’s game.
4. Can the offense get their groove back?
The defense, for the most part, has been doing their job, and keeping this team afloat at times, but the strength of this team was always supposed to be their offense. It is time for the offense to get back to clicking, and it needs to happen this Sunday. The Cowboys should have all 11 starters playing and with a mini-bye in between games; there should be a freshness and rejuvenation within the unit to get back to winning football. At some point you look at the offense in totality and wonder if the lack of offensive production is a slump due to a multitude of issues, or if this is who they have become as a unit. This offense is potent enough to go shot-for-shot with any team in the league and Sunday would be a good time to remind us all of that high power ability.
5. Win this game, and the NFC East race curtain may be closing.
The reason this game is so important is so obvious, but it does not mean the point does not need to be made anyway. Your division rival is red-hot right now, you have just got off your own two-game losing streak to get on the good side of things, but none of that matters come Sunday because a huge statement in this division race is going to be made one way or another. Either the Cowboys are going to put some serious space between themselves and the rest of the division, or the WFT is going to tighten this thing up and make it close going down the stretch. If the Cowboys win this game, the division can be sown up before Santa even comes down the chimney, if not we could be in for a ride through the new year. The Cowboys would find it most advantageous to lock in and take care of business Sunday to remove all doubt.