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Position battleground (offense): Cowboys vs Commanders head-to-head breakdown

How do you think the Washington offense will play this week?

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

Last week we witnessed a huge win against the Detroit Lions, but it felt uninspired. The play-calling was problematic and the run game was flat. But the good news is that the NFC East crown is up for grabs after the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Arizona Cardinals. There’s now only one more obstacle in the Dallas Cowboys way for winning the division, the Washington Commanders. The last time these two teams faced each other was on Thanksgiving where the Cowboys dropped 45 points on the Commanders. A win here sees Dallas become the NFC East champions and take the number two seed in the playoffs. So how do both offense’s stack up against ? Let’s battle it out by position and find out.

QUARTERBACK
Dak Prescott
vs.
Sam Howell

One issue from last week’s game was play-calling. This really didn’t help Dak and the offense for a large portion of the game and that also affected the ground game which seriously failed to assist Prescott. This week Dak faces a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-highest completion rate and third-worst sack rate in the last three weeks. Expect plenty of Dak throwing to his wideouts this week against a secondary that has allowed the third-most passing yards this year.

Sam Howell leads the NFL in interceptions at 19. In fact, his interception total is nearly as much as his touchdown total. Howell’s other issues include his sack total. He’s now been sacked 61 times this season, which ranks most in the NFL. This has all piled up on Howell this season and in the last three games has a completion percentage of just 52%. This bodes badly for Howell in his final game of the year facing a Cowboys defense that has allowed the third-lowest completion rate in the same time, as well as the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns.

Conclusion:
Dak is still the league’s passing touchdown leader. He only has eight interceptions and his passer rating of 104.2 is second-highest in the NFL. Sam Howell has a passer rating of 79.5, that’s 29th in the league. He’s thrown three touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the last six games.
Win: Cowboys

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

RUNNING BACK
Tony Pollard/Rico Dowdle
vs.
Brian Robinson Jr./Antonio Gibson

Everyone will be happier if Mike McCarthy stops calling inside runs for Pollard. Sure you have to make one or two calls for Pollard to hit the A gaps to keep defenses balanced, but in doing so we all know how ineffective that play will be. Pollard made seven attempts last week running to the A and B gaps. He made one run of five yards, but taking away that one attempt on those runs to the inside he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and managed to establish only one first down. Both of his explosive plays came when he got free and ran on the outside. And this has been the script all season for Pollard. The dropped pass over the middle was a huge disappointment. It felt like it was a game where he couldn’t run or make a reception which had plenty of fans rolling their eyes. We saw Deuce Vaughn try and reclaim his position. He had one run that went backward, and another that went for three yards.

If you think teams pass so easily on Washington so that in turn skews the rushing stats, well you would be wrong. The team ranks seventh-worst at stopping run, allowing opponents to rush for an average of 127 yards per game. If there is a game for Pollard to set himself with a positive mindset going into the playoffs this should be the game. Keep an eye on Rico Dowdle on the practice report.

Brian Robinson struggled during his last meeting with Dallas. He failed to score and averaged only 3.5 yards per carry. The Cowboys defense has lately played more effective against the run so Robinson’s hill looks even steeper this week. In the last five weeks, Robinson has failed to get in the endzone, and this season he has yet to rush over 100-yards in a game. As for his backup Antonio Gibson, he’s only rushed for 257 yards this season and scored just once.

Conclusion:
The Cowboys running back situation is a strange one. You watch the games and see the struggles but also watch them continually trying to establish the run. For everyone’s complaints, Pollard ranks 10th in rush yards in the league and has scored the fourth-most rushing touchdowns, so there is something there to work on. What Pollard has lacked this year is explosive plays. He’s made 20 rushes where he’s gone for 10 yards or more, that ranks 20th in the league. As for Robinson, his 708 rush yards ranks 30th among running backs.
Win: Cowboys

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

WIDE RECEIVERS
CeeDee Lamb/Brandin Cooks/Michael Gallup
vs.
Terry McLaurin/Curtis Samuel/Jahan Dotson

CeeDee Lamb is making his play to be the best wide receiver in Cowboy history. That may sound like an insane question to ask but think about it. Michael Irvin is the fan favorite when it comes to the greatest 88 for Dallas, Dez Bryant also gets a high vote. Drew Pearson started it all. But Lamb has just become the franchise single-season record holder in receptions and receiving yards. Lamb is also 66-yards behind Tyreek Hill to be the NFL receiving yards leader for the season, a feat never accomplished by either Bryant or Irvin.

Last week against the Detroit Lions, Lamb was unstoppable and it’s very clear the Cowboys offense needs to be funneled through Lamb, then everything else filters down from there. The priority this offseason will be in keeping Lamb in the building by getting a contract done. Brandin Cooks keeps showing his importance to the offense. He made some spectacular catches that kept drives alive. If he catches another touchdown this week it will be three consecutive games with a score which would really put him in a positive space mentally for the playoffs. Michael Gallup failed to even draw a target last week.

Terry McLaurin has taken a dip this year in production, mostly due to the failures on the Washington offense. In the last eight games, McLaurin has only scored two touchdowns and he’s only gone over 100-yards receiving once this season. He currently has 946 receiving yards, which is 28th among receivers, and his four touchdowns this year ranks 48th. Curtis Samuel is also down this year from his previous seasons. He has 598 receiving yards this year and matches McLaurin in touchdowns. Since Week 7, Samuel has caught two touchdowns and has only gone over 100-yards receiving once, which was against Dallas. Also with four touchdowns this year is Jahan Dotson. He has three receptions for 43 yards in the last three games.

Conclusion:
This CeeDee Lamb led receiver corps will be rubbing their hands this week as they face a defense that has allowed the most receiving touchdowns this year. The Commander receivers face a Cowboys defense that has allowed the third-least passing touchdowns, a tough ask for a team that ranks 19th in passing touchdowns.
Win: Cowboys

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

TIGHT END
Jake Ferguson
vs.
Logan Thomas

Each week we see Ferguson go from strength to strength. His catches over the middle on seam routes are fun to watch. Dak knows he’s extremely reliable when he targets him. The Commanders defense isn’t bad at defending the tight end position, but opponents tend to target the wide receivers against them which makes the tight ends less targeted. Regardless, the Commanders has still allowed five touchdowns to tight ends this year so there’s a chance we see Ferguson rounding off a fine regular season with another score.

Logan Thomas has 63 receiving yards in his last four games. If you want to put these two tight ends against each other and find something Logan Thomas does better, that would be his pass blocking. Both players are good blockers but Thomas could you argue has been slightly better. As a receiver, he’s fumbled the ball twice this year and has scored less touchdowns and has less receiving yards than Ferguson.

Conclusion:
Jake Ferguson ranks eighth in receiving yards, third in touchdowns and seventh in first downs among tight ends. Thomas ranks 20th in receiving among tight ends.
Win: Cowboys

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

OFFENSIVE LINE

Dallas’ blocking has declined further the last two games. It struggled in pass protection against a team that has spent a season not able to generate much pressure, then it struggled again to take command in the run game. But here’s a get-right moment for this Dallas offensive line. The last time these two teams played the offensive line allowed zero sacks and helped keep Dak clean to throw four touchdowns. It also helped that the team rushed for 100-yards and Pollard got a touchdown. Tyler Smith will more than likely be left out this week, but expect him back for the Wild Card Round as he should be at a level of recovery to be able to play. The team also added depth this week with the addition of an old familiar face, La’el Collins. He’s now on the practice squad.

The Commanders offensive line has been seriously decimated by the injuries this year. In early December the team placed center Ricky Stromberg on injured reserve, now they’ve just placed Tyler Larsen on IR. Starting tackle, Charles Leno got placed on IR last week and now starting guard Andrew Wylie could miss time with an elbow injury. That leaves Sam Cosmi on the teams offensive line still able to play. He ranks fourth on the team in pressures allowed, but hasn’t allowed a single sack since Week 6.
Win: Cowboys

Poll

Which team has the better offense?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Dallas Cowboys
    (345 votes)
  • 1%
    Washington Commanders
    (7 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now

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