Carson Wentz hasn’t played against the Cowboys in Dallas since the 2019 season. He’ll make his return to AT&T Stadium on Sunday, but this time he’s playing for the Washington Commanders. Wentz and the Commanders are on a two-game losing streak as they face a Cowboys team that’s won two in a row.
For Dallas, they’re inching closer and closer to Dak Prescott’s return, although the team doesn’t seem as desperate as they once were. Cooper Rush has put in two legitimately good performances in back-to-back wins. Do our writers think he can do it again?
When Washington has the ball
Don’t fix what isn’t broken
This Dallas defense is performing at a high level right now, leading the league in sacks and second in pressures. Dan Quinn’s unit has traded their gaudy takeaway numbers for gaudy pass rushing numbers, and it’s worked out just as well. Heading into this game, the Cowboys look well positioned to repeat that success.
The three quarterbacks that have been sacked the most through three games are Daniel Jones, Joe Burrow, and Carson Wentz. Those first two guys are up there in large part because they faced Micah Parsons and this defense. Wentz has yet to do so and he’s already having trouble staying upright; 14 of his league-leading 15 sacks have come in the last two games, and Washington is 0-2 in those games. If the Cowboys can keep ratcheting up the pressure, they can keep Wentz boxed up.
When Dallas has the ball
Let Rush cook
The Cowboys have survived offensively the last two weeks by not asking Cooper Rush to do too much. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have powered a highly efficient run game that’s allowed Rush to be more effective in spurts. But he’s also shown legitimate growth as a passer from one game to the next.
This should be the week that Rush really opens things up, though. Only three other teams are allowing more air yards than this Commanders secondary, which features two defenders - corner Kendall Fuller and safety Darrick Forrest - in the top 25 in total yardage allowed. With Michael Gallup officially set to return this week, and Rush’s connections with CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown looking stronger than ever, the Cowboys have a real chance to finally put up points in bunches this season.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (1-2):
In my mind, this game is going to depend on two things. One is the battle between the pass rush and the Commander’s O line plus Carson Wentz’s penchant for hanging on to the ball until things close in. I don’t think Wentz can overcome that enough, and the Cowboys should be up close and personal with him a lot.
The other is whether Kellen Moore can call an effective offense. He needs to repeat that three series stretch that won the Giants game, and I think he will do well enough, although there will be some series that will not look as good. I still think the Cowboys will win by a couple of scores.
I’ll go with the Cowboys winning 27-16, as I think they will force a lot of field goals.
Tony Catalina (1-2):
When I think about this week four matchup, it forces me to think big picture. This game means a lot for this 2022 Cowboys team even if some don’t realize. Finding a way to get a third straight win with a backup QB before a tough two game stretch versus the Super Bowl champs, and a tough division rival can give this Cowboys team a little leeway if they were to stumble. Dak may be back for one or two of those games, and closing out this Cooper Rush timeframe undefeated would be a dream come true for this team.
This Commanders team is struggling right now, but they have talent and you know they always get excited for the Cowboys. it being an early window kickoff, and the Commanders having some early season desperation, I could see the Cowboys needing to weather an early storm, but ultimately the Cowboys find a way to win an important game.
Cowboys win, 23-17.
Matt Holleran (1-2):
I really want to pick the Cowboys here because they should win this game, but I have a bad feeling about this matchup. The Commanders are coming off getting embarrassed at home by the Eagles last Sunday, and while I don’t think they are necessarily a very good team, they aren’t as bad as they played last week.
Even without Dak Prescott, I think the Cowboys are the better team, but this just has the feel of a letdown performance to me. I hope I’m wrong, but I think Dallas loses their second game on Sunday.
Give me the Commanders, 23-16.
Brandon Loree (2-1):
Dallas can win this game by following the recipe that got them a win against the Giants. Protect the ball and establish a dominant rushing attack early and often. Cooper Rush has yet to make a mistake, while his counterpart in Wentz has turned the ball over four times.
While the Commanders’ offense is better than last season, Dallas has already been tested by a talented Bengals wide receiving core, and won that battle.
Dallas should win at home 23-17.
Matthew Arizzi (1-2):
Hand up, I was wrong about last week. Having predicted the Cowboys to go 0-3 so far, a 2-1 is a welcomed surprise. For this game against the Commanders, the Cowboys defensive front should serve problematic for Washington and Carson Wentz. If they get after him as they should, which would be in the 4-6 sack range, they should win.
Again, like I said last week, Tony Pollard needs to be the focal point of the offense. If his touches are near or above Ezekiel Elliott’s, the Cowboys could win this game by double digits. However, I’ll keep it modest and say it’s a touchdown game.
Aidan Davis (1-2):
If you think the Cooper Rush hype has reached a peak, just wait until week four is over. Because this will be the worst defensive team that Rush has seen across his four NFL starts. Washington is the 25th ranked team by passing EPA per play allowed, meaning that Dallas should be able to air the ball out. The Commanders have been decent against the run, but the Cowboys rushing attack is gaining momentum behind an offensive line that leads the NFL in run-block win rate. Expect them to rely on Zeke and Pollard when needed.
As for the defense, Washington gets to pick their poison. If they choose to drop back to pass, then Carson Wentz, who has been sacked a league-high 15 times this season, will be facing a top-three pass rush by PFF grading. They can choose to play into the Cowboys’ weaknesses and stick to the ground game. But as the 25th ranked team by rushing efficiency, it is not as if Washington has a prolific backfield. Fans should be more confident in this one than the first three weeks.
Dallas 29, Washington 17.
Mike Poland (2-0):
For the first time since 2017 the number one defense in team sacks face the number one offense in sacks allowed. Wentz is 6th in turnover worthy plays and fumbled the ball twice last week. Now let’s add Cooper Rush winning his first 3 starts and throwing over 500 yards with the sweetener on top of CeeDee Lamb showing he has the skills to pay the bills as a WR1.
Donovan Wilson is on fire right now and Trevon Diggs getting an INT is a good confidence booster when they come to face Dotson and McLaurin, but they’ve faced the most elite receiver corps the NFL has to offer this season already and came out mustard, so they’ve got this locked down.
Cowboys 28, Commanders 20.
Paul Stewart (1-0):
I think the momentum of the run game will flourish and the defense will give Carson Wentz a difficult time.
Cowboys win, 28-17.
Chase Young’s absence will be felt as Cooper Rush will have time to sling the ball to Michael Gallup in his first game back from injury, assuming he’s ready to go on Sunday. Micah Parsons comes out as a man on a mission after failing to log a sack in last week’s game, and the rest of the defense comes to bat to try to not get showed up by the second-year player. The Cowboys move on to tie the Eagles at the top of the division.
Cowboys win, 27-17.
Brian Martin (2-1):
I fully expect the Dallas Cowboys to expand their win streak to three in a row this week against the Washington Commanders. Washington’s offensive line is coming off a game in which they allowed 20 pressures, nine sacks, and eight quarterback hurries against Philadelphia last week.
On the flipside, Dallas is coming off a game in which they generated 25 pressures, 12 quarterback hits, and five sacks against the Giants. Because of that, Micah Parsons and Company should wreck shop this week.
Cowboys win, 26-13.
RJ Ochoa (1-2):
The Dallas Cowboys have proven a lot to the world over the last two weeks. They are still a bit of a work in progress, but they have earned some benefit of the doubt back. I partly picked them over the New York Giants last week because I trusted the G-Men less. Not to pick at what Dallas has done, but this is still sort of the same thing for me. I don’t trust Carson Wentz at all, and I certainly trust the Cowboys defense a ton.
Cowboys win. 23-10. Dallas has more sacks than Washington’s receptions leader has catches. Welcome to October.
David Howman (3-0):
I feel really good about the Cowboys in this one. So many things add up in their favor: Washington’s defense can’t stop the deep pass and they’re allowing the third most rushing yards per game. The Cowboys get deep threat Michael Gallup back this week and have an extremely efficient rushing game.
More importantly, though, Carson Wentz loves to get sacked. So much so that he sometimes runs himself into defenders. No defense has been better at getting to the quarterback than these Cowboys. I expect Micah Parsons to feast, and this one could get out of hand quickly.
Cowboys win, 31-10.