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Cowboys vs Commanders: Writer predictions for Thanksgiving game

Do you think the Cowboys get the Thanksgiving Day win?

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

It’s that time of year again. The Cowboys have to make a quick turnaround and play on Thanksgiving, an annual tradition in Dallas. This time around, it’s the Washington Commanders, the first clash of the year between these two teams. Washington comes into this game on a two-game losing streak, including getting swept by the Giants in a game where Tommy DeVito threw three touchdown passes.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys scored a 33-10 win on the road against the Panthers, their second straight win. As they return to AT&T Stadium, they’re looking for their 13th straight home win going back to last season. The Cowboys are once again heavy favorites, going into this game with a whopping 12.5 point spread that has been growing. Do our writers believe in their ability to live up to that hype?

When Washington has the ball

Bring down Sam Howell

Sam Howell is having an up-and-down first season as the starter for the Commanders, and his gunslinger tendencies have produced a lot of big plays for both his team and the opponent. His three interceptions this past week tied him for the league lead, and Howell is in the top 10 in both big time throws and turnover worthy plays.

The secret to making Howell unravel is pressure. Washington’s offensive line hasn’t been great this season, but Howell has made things worse with his 2.77 seconds per throw. So while Howell ranks eighth in pressure rate, he’s the most sacked quarterback by a very wide margin; Howell has been sacked at least three times in all but one game this year. He also leads the league with interceptions thrown when under pressure. This bodes well for a Dallas defense with one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.

When Dallas has the ball

Air it out

The Commanders have often enjoyed good defenses under Ron Rivera, but this year is a major exception. The defense has struggled in every aspect, but the secondary has been especially susceptible. They’re giving up the second most passing yards and most passing touchdowns on the year, and rank 30th in EPA/dropback allowed and 32nd in pass defense DVOA.

That’s great news for Dak Prescott and this offense, who were on a tear until a relatively average game in a tough environment on Sunday. Prescott has been on fire, and Mike McCarthy has adjusted his game plan accordingly: Dallas has the fifth-highest early down pass rate this season. Against a defense like this, expect much of the same approach. After all, if Tonmy DeVito can throw three touchdowns against this group, Prescott should feast.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle (6-4):

The Commanders don’t seem like they are much of a threat, given they just lost to the Giants, who were coming off being beaten badly by the Cowboys. But there is not a transitive principle in football, division games are often unpredictable, and it’s the short Thanksgiving week on top of that. On the plus side, Dallas clearly has a superior roster and they are back at AT&T Stadium where the home winning streak stands at 12.

I don’t think that gets snapped in this one, and expect the Cowboys to get another multi-score win while the offense returns to its prolific ways.

Tony Catalina (9-1):

The Cowboys on Thanksgiving is a special thing. It’s certainly not something I take for granted and is one of the many things I’m thankful for each holiday season. With that being said, the Cowboys need this one, and if they play their way - they’ll get it.

Don’t be fooled by the Commanders loss last week, this game and this atmosphere always teams giving the Cowboys their best. I think the ‘Boys get it done but it’ll be tighter than it should be.

Give me the Cowboys 27-20. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Matt Holleran (8-2):

This game is going to be much more competitive than many seem to believe. In five of Dallas’ six last Thanksgiving games they have trailed at halftime. For whatever reason the Cowboys seem to get off to slow starts on the short week and I think we see that continue this year.

Dallas trails 13-7 at the half but they finally gets things together in the third quarter. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense score 17 second-half points and the defense holds Washington to just three. It’s closer than it should have been, but Dallas wins their third straight.

Give me the Cowboys, 24-16.

Brandon Loree (6-3):

The Dallas Cowboys have a quick turnaround with playing on Thanksgiving, but Mike McCarthy has always done a great job getting his team as healthy as possible for this stretch. That said, this will probably be the toughest matchup over the previous three weeks with the Washington Commanders. Their playoff hopes are slipping, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have motivation in prime time to spoil the turkey.

I could see another DaRon Bland interception because Sam Howell is careless with the football sometimes, but I could also see Howell throwing for three touchdowns. The biggest test will be stopping running back Brian Robinson, who has been having an outstanding sophomore season in DC. The Cowboys’ run defense struggled a bit In Carolina, so it’s something to watch.

All that to say—I think it’ll be closer than people expect, and I pick the Cowboys to win 26-23 and put a bow on another tremendous Thanksgiving day.

Matthew Lenix (7-3):

The Dallas Cowboys are entering the most challenging part of their schedule, and with the Philadelphia Eagles sitting at 9-1, they have little margin for error of they have any hopes of winning the NFC East. Dallas won’t allow themselves to slip against the Washington Commanders as they will move the football with ease versus their 29th ranked defense.

The Cowboys will build a lead, force the Commanders to be one dimensional on offense, and pin their ears back as their pass-rush will takeover in a 35-13 Dallas win.

Mike Poland (7-3):

The Cowboys defense ranks third in interceptions this season. Sam Howell, on the other hand, leads the NFL in interceptions. On offense, the Cowboys have thrown the third-most touchdowns in the NFL. As for the Commanders defense, they rank last in passing touchdowns allowed.

Cowboys win 38-13.

Brian Martin (7-3):

The Washington Commanders are coming up a demoralizing loss to one of the worst teams in the league, the New York Giants, and now have to hit the road to play a red-hot team. While just about anything and everything can happen in a rivalry game, I don’t foresee the Dallas Cowboys having any problem walking away with the “W” in this Week 12 matchup.

Cowboys win 27-9.

RJ Ochoa (8-2):

Thanksgiving is always a ton of fun and while I know that we are all still waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop for the Cowboys I do not see that happening while we are giving thanks.

I’ll take Dallas to get to 8-3 with a comfortable win over their division rival, something along the lines of 30-20.

David Howman (6-4):

The Cowboys are dominant at home, one thing Mike McCarthy has routinely stressed in his time here. Another point of emphasis for the head coach: winning your divisional games. Combine that with a Commanders team whose biggest weaknesses - a quarterback who loves getting sacked and a secondary that can’t stop a nosebleed - play right into the Cowboys’ strengths, and this is a recipe for disaster if you’re Ron Rivera.

I expect the Cowboys to come out strong in this one and carve out a big lead early on, then keep their foot on the gas well into the second half. They all remember what happened the last time they faced the Commanders, and now they have the chance for some revenge.

Cowboys win 43-17.

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