Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden looks on from the sidelines against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 42-24. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins are facing the Dallas Cowboys today. What could happen in the crazy game?
Thanksgiving Day is upon us. The big clash between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys is almost here. The rivalry game is going to have a huge impact on the NFC playoff picture, and it is a particularly important game for the Redskins.
Currently, the Skins are 6-3-1 and hold an advantage in the Wild Card race. The team could use another marquee win to improve their resume and set themselves up to have an easier path to the postseason. This game with the Cowboys is crucial to their success, as they need to be able to beat their rivals if they want a chance to make a Super Bowl run.
With that said, there will be a lot at stake in this game. Here are some bold predictions for what could happen in the contest.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) scores a touchdown as Green Bay Packers strong safety Micah Hyde (33) looks on during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
5. DeSean Jackson Plays, Catches 80 Yard Touchdown
Heading into Thursday’s game, DeSean Jackson has been listed as questionable by the Redskins. Though he was able to suit up on Sunday night and looked healthy, there is no telling whether or not his shoulder will flare up ahead of the Thanksgiving battle. That said, I think there is a good chance he will play and that could be huge for the team.
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The Redskins really have an advantage in the receiving matchup, and Jackson should be able to exploit it. Jackson has game breaking speed, which many of the Cowboys corners will not be able to contain. Also, if they have someone shadow Jackson, there is a good chance that he will figure out a way to get by them at some point. After all, he is an incredible athlete.
With that in mind, I think that Jackson should have a chance to make a big play against the Cowboys. Everything seems to be working in his favor, including the play of Kirk Cousins. Last week, Cousins made numerous terrific throws downfield, and he should be able to do it again Thursday. If Jackson gets open, Cousins will find him for a huge touchdown. That could be a momentum boost for the Redskins.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) avoids the tackle by Washington Redskins defensive end Trent Murphy (93) during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
4. Trent Murphy Notches 1.5 Sacks
The Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league. There is no doubting that. However, the Redskins have a strong pass rush so they may be able to get some pressure on Dak Prescott. Of the top three rushers on the Skins line, Trent Murphy seems to be the most likely to do it.
Murphy is one of the stronger pass rushers on the Redskins. He has been able to plow through some offensive linemen in games this season, and he may have a chance to do that on Thursday. Murphy figures to lineup across from both tackles at points in the game, but he will have a better chance of beating Doug Free.
Free is a good starting tackle, but he is definitely the weakest link on the Dallas front. He may have trouble dealing with Murphy’s unique combination of strength and length, and that would allow the third year pro to put some heat on Prescott. It may not happen often, but Murphy should still make an impact.
When it’s all said and done, I think Murphy will get a sack or two. For now, I will list his number at 1.5, as there is a chance he could team up with someone if Prescott tries to avoid him. It should be a great day for Murphy regardless.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) catches a 70 yard touchdown pass as Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter (36) chases during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
3. Pierre Garcon Leads Redskins In Receiving Yards Again
Against the Green Bay Packers, Pierre Garcon had what was by far the best game of his season. The veteran receiver functioned as the No. 1 option for the Skins and he finished the day with 116 yards and a touchdown. Granted, 70 of the yards came on one giant pass play, but it was still a huge day for Garcon.
I think that Thursday will see a similar performance from Garcon. Jackson is questionable, and Garcon has always thrived when Jackson has been limited. He is usually able to take advantage of his matchups and use his physical nature to battle opposing cornerback. Dallas will afford him a good opportunity to do that.
Dallas will be missing Morris Claiborne in this game, and that means that Garcon will get to face Brandon Carr and Anthony Brown for most of the day. Garcon should be able to beat either player and get open for 10-15 yard gains. He will rack those up as the day goes on, and Cousins will target him a fair amount.
At the end of the day, Garcon is going to lead the team in receiving yards. He may even hit the 100 yard mark if he can catch enough passes.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) celebrates after a fumble recovery by Redskins linebacker Will Compton (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 42-24. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2. Josh Norman Picks Dak Prescott Twice
Throughout the first 10 games of his NFL career, Dak Prescott has thrown only two interceptions. This week, that number could double if Prescott is not careful with the ball.
In the Thanksgiving game, Prescott’s best receiver, Dez Bryant, will be locked in a battle with one of the best cornerbacks in the league, Josh Norman. This may make it hard for Prescott to get the ball to his star, but the rookie may try to force it. Prescott does not need to throw to Bryant, but he may choose to for a couple reasons.
First, the Dallas receiving corps is made up of middling No. 2 receivers and Bryant. Prescott will want to make some explosive plays, and targeting Bryant is the best way to do it. Second, Prescott is still a rookie and he may be overconfident in his abilities when facing such a strong cornerback. That could hurt him.
I expect that Norman will do a solid job of covering Bryant, and that could allow him to be in position to get an interception or two. I think that Norman will grab a couple and teach Prescott a little lesson about being a quarterback at the NFL level.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) carries the ball as Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) chases in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
1. Robert Kelley Records Over 150 Yards Rushing
Robert Kelley was an absolute monster in the game against the Packers. Against the Cowboys, he could have similar success. That may surprise some, but the Cowboys do not have a strong run defense.
In my Redskins to Watch piece from earlier this week, I discussed the problems that come from the highly ranked Cowboys rush defense.
Though the Cowboys technically rank third in rush defense, that number is a bit misleading. Their front is a little bit weak, as they do not have a lot of talented players. Their edge rushers are fine, but they lack any consistent run stuffers. Also, the Cowboys have led in a lot of their recent games, so teams have not had as much of a chance to run on them. In fact, they are only facing 19.9 run plays per game, which is good for the lowest total in the NFL.
The Redskins should exploit this area. Many perceive this to be a strength, when in reality, it is an under the radar weakness. Kelley should be able to have a “surprisingly good” performance on Thursday. He will be able to gash the Dallas defense and if he gets 25 carries, he could really help to tire out the front seven.
Kelley is definitely going to get a chance to have another 15-25 carries, and I think he will do a lot with them. That said, hitting the 150 yard mark seems like a reasonable goal