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Thanksgiving NFL preview: Cowboys, Washington battle for NFC East lead

Dallas Cowboys wideouts CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup
Dallas Cowboys wideouts CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup
ANALYST
Modified 27 Nov 2020, 00:48 IST
Preview
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Following last week's epic last-gasp victory against the much-fancied Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys look to hit form as they welcome Washington to AT&T on Thanksgiving Day.

Washington bested the Cincinnati Bengals last time out, leaving themselves and the Cowboys deadlocked at 3-7 and part of a three-way tie with the New York Giants for second-place in the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles lead the division at 3-6-1.

All three runners-up have a chance to move into first place this week, however.

The Eagles face a tough test at home against the Seattle Seahawks on "Monday Night Football," a game they're expected to lose.

Meanwhile, the Giants face the Bengals, who just lost their starting quarterback, rookie Joe Burrow, for the season to a knee injury. And with the Cowboys and Washington facing each other and (most likely) producing a winner, it means one team could be alone at 4-7 by the end of this week.


Cowboys renew historic rivalry with Washington on Thanksgiving

Dallas and Washington have one of the longest-running rivalries in the NFL.

The franchises first met in 1960. Washington triumphed 25-14 in that one, led by quarterback Ralph Guglielmi. If you can imagine, both teams were even worse than they are now. Dallas finished that season 0-11-1, while Washington was 1-9; the win over the Cowboys being their only victory of the season.

Historically speaking, though, the Cowboys do have control of the series. In 121 encounters, Dallas has emerged victorious 73 times compared to Washington's 46. There have been two ties.

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Washington at Dallas Cowboys Prediction

When these teams last met in Week 7 of this season, the Washington defense proved too much for Dallas in a 25-3 victory.

Rookie defensive end Chase Young and Co. kept Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott at bay on the ground, and before being carted off with a concussion, Cowboys QB Andy Dalton was having a woeful afternoon.

However, against the Vikings last week, Dallas seemed reinvigorated by Dalton's return. He ended up having a great afternoon (203 yards, 3 touchdowns). Elliott finally got back to form, too, as he rushed for over 100 yards. When you combine that good news with the fact that Dallas still has one of the best sets of receiving corps in the NFL, coach Mike McCarthy's men are far from dead and buried.

The problem is that Washington is like kryptonite to Dallas; they are fantastic in all the ways the Cowboys aren't. Coach Ron Rivera's defensive unit has been superb all season and leads the league in fewest passing yards allowed.

I do worry about Washington on offense, especially if receiver Terry McLaurin is unable to take the field. But there were signs of improvement against the Bengals last Sunday, and the offensive unit will come into this one high in confidence for perhaps the first time this season.

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Prediction: Washington has the talent on D to nullify Dalton through the air, but Ezekiel Elliot's timely return to form could cause them a ton of problems. If he's able to pick up 5 yards per carry rushing the ball up the middle like he did last week, I expect the Cowboys to get the job done.

Dallas takes a big one at home, 24-20.

Published 27 Nov 2020, 00:45 IST
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