Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on the field before the game between the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins have a quick turnaround this week. Will they be able to win after an emotional victory?
The Washington Redskins are coming off of a huge win. The team just beat the Green Bay Packers in prime time and improved their record to 6-3-1 on the season. Heading into Week 12, the Skins have just a few days before the Thanksgiving clash with the Dallas Cowboys. It promises to be an exciting one.
The Cowboys are checking into the game with a 9-1 record. Many have said that they could have been undefeated had they not made late mistakes against the Giants, and the emergence of their rookie stars has made them a serious contender. The Thanksgiving game is always important to America’s team, so they will be motivated to improve to 10-1 this week.
With all of that said, let’s have a look at the upcoming matchup. Here is an in-depth look at the Redskins-Cowboys game in NFL Week 12.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a touchdown pass to Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Redskins Passing Game vs. Cowboys Defense
Since the bye week, the Redskins passing game has been absolutely on fire. They have been extremely successful thanks to the play of Kirk Cousins. Cousins has been incredible, and last game against the Green Bay Packers was no exception. He went 21-of-30 for 375 yards and three great touchdowns. He was spot on with his passes and did a great job of managing the passing game going into the wind.
Of course, Cousins’ performance came against a decimated Packers defense. The team was missing their top two corners, so that could have caused some of the issues. Still, Cousins looks to be primed for success against the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are once again slated to be without Morris Claiborne this week. Claiborne had been a mediocre pro prior to this year. He was dominating competition as the team’s top corner prior to getting injured. Without him, sixth round rookie Anthony Brown will continue to start and that could be a weakness for the Cowboys.
The Skins have a great receiving corps, and over the past couple of weeks Pierre Garcon has been hot. Garcon could get a lot of targets in a matchup with Brown or Brandon Carr. He should be able to beat both guys. Elsewhere, DeSean Jackson should break a couple big gains while Jamison Crowder may have issues with Orlando Scandrick. It seems like the Redskins should have the advantage in this aspect of the game on Thursday.
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
Redskins Running Game vs. Cowboys Defense
Last time the Redskins and the Cowboys squared off, Matt Jones was the lead back. Jones put together a decent performance against the Cowboys totaling 60 yards and a touchdown. However, Jones is likely to be inactive again on Thursday and Robert Kelley will get a chance to showcase his ability.
Kelley is coming off of two great performances including the clinic he put on against the Packers. He was able to gain yards on all of his carries, and he looked fantastic late. He helped the Redskins to clinch the game and scored a whopping three touchdowns.
This should scare the Cowboys. Though they currently rank third in the NFL against the run, Kelley is not an easy man to start. Also, the Cowboys do not have the strongest players on the interior of the defensive line. The Redskins offensive line should be able to take advantage and open up some holes for Kelley. That could be problematic for Dallas.
Overall, this matchup could go a long way in determining the victor of this game. If Kelley puts together another strong performance, the Cowboys may have trouble slowing down the machine that is the Redskins offense.
Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) signals at the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Cowboys Passing Game vs. Redskins Defense
Many have talked about the possibility of Dak Prescott being nominated for the NFL MVP award. While Prescott has put together one of the best rookie campaigns I have ever seen, I find that argument to be questionable. Prescott has done well, but he has a stellar supporting cast around him on offense. That said, he is still going to cause some problems for the Redskins on Thursday.
Over his last three games, Prescott has completed nearly 74 percent of his passes for 867 yards and eight touchdowns. Granted, he has faced some weak secondaries over the course of that span, but he has still looked strong. Washington will provide a test for him, and I think that he may have trouble replicating those numbers.
The main issue for the Cowboys is that Dez Bryant, their top receiver, is likely to line up against Josh Norman for the entirety of this game. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry made the mistake of leaving Norman on one side during their first meeting, and that cost the team. Norman will get a chance to shut down Bryant, and if that happens the Cowboys will have issues completing passes.
The best hope for the Cowboys in this game is that Jason Witten and Cole Beasley can step up. If those two get going over the middle of the field, Prescott will be able to gain some early momentum. Then, as the game wears on he can target Bryant more as he figures out ways to beat Norman. It will not be an easy task, but Prescott seems to have the ability to get the job done.
Ezekiel Elliott was just playing in his second NFL game the last time these teams met. He had a decent showing, but lacked any sort of explosive ability against what is considered to be a weak Washington run defense. This time around, it is fair to expect more from the rookie.
Elliott should be able to gash the Redskins mediocre run defense. Though the team is coming off of a strong performance against the Packers, the unit simply will not hold against a talented back like Elliott. They struggle with physical runners, and their lack of tackling ability will allow him to rip off some big gains. It is also worth mentioning that the Dallas offensive line has improved as well, so that is another obstacle for the team to overcome.
The Redskins need to plan to stop the run on defense. If they get too distracted, they may find themselves down early. That could be detrimental to their chances of winning the all-important Thanksgiving game.
Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
This is going to be another close game. Like the first one they played, I expect this to be a one score affair. However, I do not think this game will be decided by a mistake. I think that the running game for each team is the key. Whichever team can slow the other’s rookie back will come out on top.
At the end of the day, I think the Redskins will put up a good fight. However, I cannot see them beating the Cowboys. The Cowboys simply have too much riding on this game. A huge win streak, the Thanksgiving game, and the rivalry between the two teams. The Cowboys will win this one to reach double digit wins.