With not a lot to play for in the season finale, the Washington Commanders are looking to rest some of their injured players.
The Commanders, who have been eliminated from the playoffs, have ruled out numerous players for their Week 18 clash with the Cowboys. Among them is defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who was named to his second-straight Pro Bowl in 2022.
Allen was ruled out with a knee injury. He has been one of the leaders of Washington’s defense, racking up 65 tackles, 16 for a loss, 17 quarterback hits and 7.5 sacks. The Commanders as a whole rank fourth-best in the NFL, allowing just 312.3 yards per game.
Dallas and Washington first faced off in Week 4 with the Cowboys coming out victorious, 25-10. Prescott did not play that game, but Allen still made a team-high eight tackles, four for a loss and a sack.
The Cowboys will still need some help in earning the NFC’s top spot. To win the NFC East, they’ll need to beat the Commanders and have the Eagles lose to the Giants. To earn the NFC’s top overall seed, they’ll need a win over Washington, an Eagles loss and a 49ers loss to the Cardinals.
The Cowboys top priority is defeating the Commanders in Week 18. To do so, they’ll need Dak Prescott – who has thrown for 2,732 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this – to play at the top of his game. Seeing Allen shut down for Week 18 should take a bit of pressure off Prescott as the Cowboys look to improve their playoff positioning.
With the Commanders playing a lot of their backups, writer’s for the team website give their take on how Washington can upset the Cowboys hope for better playoff seeding.
The Washington Commanders are set to finish up the 2022 season with a home matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Here are three keys to victory, presented by KIA.
1. How can Washington manage explosive plays from Dallas’ offense?
Logan: Dallas’ offense is surprisingly conservative. It’s a run-first unit that leans on Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. In the first matchup, Washington did an excellent job of keeping this element of Dallas’ game in check. However, the area that hurt Washington was Dallas’ ability to find big plays like the long catch-and-run CeeDee Lamb had into Jamin Davis’ coverage.
In the case of Davis, fans were outraged that he was placed into coverage against one of the league’s best receivers in Lamb. However, Davis did an excellent job of matching Lamb and taking him away later in the game. On the first rep, Dallas motioned Lamb to a stack look behind tight end Dalton Schultz, getting to a two-by-two formation. Based on how Davis played it, he had to reroute the No. 2 receiver and make that player widen, which gave the safeties and corners time to react to deeper concepts. Dallas understood this and had Lamb work a delayed switch release, making Lamb the new No. 2. Davis was in a bad position and widened with the Schultz, which gave Lamb a window to come underneath and into the middle of the field. Lamb took advantage of the misalignment for a big play.
On the second rep, Dallas motioned to the exact same formation. This time, Davis recognized the look and was more conservative to get hands on the tight end, waiting for Lamb to break underneath. Davis reacted and was in perfect position to make a play on the ball.
Cowboys 2022 draft class is proving to be one of the better in franchise history - Chris Halling, Blogging the Boys
The Cowboys 2022 rookie class has certainly contributed to a lot of the team’s success this season. One of our newest writers at BTB believes the ‘22 class is one of the best in Cowboys history. It’s hard to argue against him.
Round 1: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
When the team selected Tyler Smith with the 24th pick in the draft, some fans felt the team had reached. Coming in at 6’5” and 332 pounds out of college, he had a lot of the raw tools you look for in the NFL. A big body who can move well, with natural strength at the position. However, he lacked some fundamentals and technique. At Tulsa he committed 16 penalties in his final season, 12 of them being holding calls. With the Cowboys leading the NFL in penalties in 2021, this selection was not well-received among fans.
The Cowboys intended on playing Smith at left guard next to veteran left tackle Tyron Smith, but when Tyron went down with an injury before the season, the coaching staff was forced to move Tyler out to left tackle. Not only has Tyler Smith managed to hold his own at the position, he has played so well that the team felt it was best to move Tyron Smith to right tackle when he returned from injury.
Round 2: Sam Williams, Ole Miss, EDGE
There was a lot of hype in the Cowboys building leading up to the draft about edge rusher Sam Williams. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was really impressed with him, and owner Jerry Jones seemed to take notice as well.
Williams on the Cowboys: “They’re on me a lot. Mr. Jones said he needs another Micah Parsons. I’d love to be a Cowboy.”
Throughout his rookie season, Williams has made the most of his opportunities and has showed flashes of his talent. In a front-seven with several key players such as DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, and Micah Parson, Williams has still made impactful plays. He has three sacks, one forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries.
Round 4: Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin, TE
A nice surprise in the draft class was how good tight end Jake Ferguson has looked this season. His speed and athleticism has been a great complement to tight end Dalton Schultz this season. While Schultz has been one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets the past two seasons, Ferguson has shown so much promise that the Cowboys front office might feel more comfortable letting Schultz take a bigger contract in free agency for another team.
Ferguson only has 18 receptions for 170 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season. However, his ability as an athlete has leaped off the screen in his receptions.
If Dallas has any longevity in the playoffs, their most recent free-agent acquisition could become one of the greatest moves the front office has made in a long time.
The Dallas Cowboys’ flirtations with Odell Beckham Jr. went on for weeks and were as public as they could be with owner and general manager Jerry Jones hoping he would add the veteran free agent, who is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
The flirtations with Hilton lasted a couple of days. His workout was so impressive, the Cowboys cut it short.
Hilton’s impact through two games has been bigger than Beckham’s could have been in the regular season, since he was not ready to play, and it looks to grow as the playoffs commence.
“Obviously I think it speaks volumes about him personally, but also for him professionally, to come in, to be in game shape, he’s handled everything that we’ve thrown at him,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s a very accomplished receiver. He has a lot of pelts on the wall. Yeah, I can see him getting even more this week. It’s a steady incline that we recognize.”
Hilton has five catches for 102 yards in the two games he has been active, playing 34 offensive snaps. Four of those catches have gone for first downs. In Week 16, he drew a penalty on a fourth-down play against the Philadelphia Eagles on a drive that ended in a go-ahead touchdown. Later, his first reception as a Cowboy converted a third-and-30, going for 52 yards in the fourth quarter on a drive that saw Dallas tie the game.
Without either play, the Cowboys likely lose.
Cowboys to Lose Tony Pollard, Sign ‘Frankenstein’ RB David Montgomery from Bears? - Geoff Magliochetti, Cowboys Country
Losing running back Tony Pollard in the offseason is a reality that some in Cowboys nation don’t want to exist in. However, if Dallas does lose Pollard to another team, the running back free-agent market is definitely bountiful with proven names.
In compiling a list of “crazy” predictions for the upcoming offseason, CBS Sports believes that Pollard, the Dallas Cowboys’ dual-threat running back talent, will earn a big payday by the spring ... and it probably won’t be Dallas writing the check.
Meanwhile, a USA Today outlet is suggesting that Chicago Bears free agent David Montgomery - once upon a time labeled “Frankenstein’’ because he was supposed to be a back featuring so many different skills akin to so many different predecessors - should come to Dallas in Pollard’s stead.
A sidebar to these ideas, and we mean no insult here: These are not “insiders’’ ideas and these are not “scoops.’’ The two outlets are playing a guessing game, and framed that way, we can have fun with the ideas.
CBS declares that Pollard will be the star rushing attraction in a transactional period full of them, even drawing more attention than Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Montgomery. Pollard is in the final year of his rookie contract inked upon his arrival as a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft. He has been a consistent offensive prescience in his four seasons but 2022 has been a breakthrough year, one that has produced 1,359 yards from scrimmage, 12 touchdowns (both career-highs), and his first Pro Bowl nomination.
“Whether it’s working in the pass game, beating defenses to the corner off a jet sweep or just operating as your typical back in between the tackles, Pollard is a versatile weapon (that) teams are going to be bidding on — more so than Barkley, Jacobs, or Montgomery,” CBS predicts. “Spotrac projects Pollard will sign a three-year, $25.40 million deal that carries an average annual value of $8.4 million. My prediction is it’s going to be higher than that, with his new AAV surpassing $10 million.”
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