Thanksgiving Day Football Preview -- Cowboys-Wash.: Yes It's an NFC East Showdown Between Playoff Contenders

  • In Charles Jay
  • Thu, Nov 26th, 2020 10:11:25 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The winner of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team on Thursday may wind up the leader in the NFC East.


BetOnline Thanksgiving Day Football Odds

Dallas Cowboys                   -3 (+105)
Washington Football Team +3 (-125)

Over 46 Points -110
Under 46 Points -110

Believe it or not, this is a critical game in the playoff picture. Both of these teams are 3-7 (Dallas is 2-8 against the number, while Washington is 3-5-2), and this puts them a half-game behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who have looked bad lately. Somebody from that division is going to the playoffs, and the Cowboys and the "FT" are saying "why not us?"

And both of them, who have tried youngsters at the quarterback spot, have now turned to veterans. After Dak Prescott's injury, and a concussion to Andy Dalton, the Cowboys had Ben DiNucci and then Garrett Gilbert at QB. Now it is back to Dalton, who was 22 of 32 for 203 in a win over the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. And for a change, they got something out of Ezekiel Elliott, who had 103 yards.

Of course, one of the big problems for the Cowboys has been attrition on the offensive line. And they are still without tackles Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, so this creates ongoing difficulty.

Washington Dallas free pickMost BetOnline patrons who follow the NFL are familiar with the trials and tribulations of Alex Smith, who suffered a gruesome leg injury, experienced infection after an operation, and has had 27 different procedures, in the process of fending off amputation. The idea that he would play again in the NFL was unlikely.

But there he is, behind center, and a couple of weeks ago he produced a career high in passing yards. He didn't have a bonanza last week against Cincinnati, with only 166 yards through the air, but Washington was aided by the injury to Joe Burrow, as Ryan Finley came in and threw for only 30 yards.

While admittedly the Cowboys have the better receiving corps, the FT has its own weapons, such as wide receiver Terry McLaurin (a teammate of the failed Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State) and running back Antonio Gibson (94 rushing yards last week).

Dallas is 31st (one place from the bottom) in the league in turnover margin, but they didn't turn over the ball against the Vikings, which was a big factor in the victory. Can they sustain such a thing?

Cowboys Thanksgiving free playOne of the things you like to look for in a game like this the presence of superlatives. Which team has the best single unit on the field? In this case, it's Washington's defense. They are fifth best in the league in yards allowed per drive and fourth best in preventing touchdowns in the red zone (only 53.6%).

They are currently the only team in the NFL that is allowing fewer than 200 passing yards per game (this translates to 6.3 yards per attempt). And they are second in the league in sack percentage. That's not great news for Dalton, who has never been known as the most mobile NFL quarterback and has averaged NINE yards rushing per game for his career. And with the shaky offensive line situation, this is magnified, particularly as the FT can send multiple guys at him, like Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Young.

That's the kind of thing that makes a difference for us when it comes to a division underdog. And the Cowboys have been no Thanksgiving Day bargain, covering just one of their last nine. So we're going to take the points with WASHINGTON here.

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