Three‌ keys to a WFT victory on SNF against the Cowboys

By Gibson Hirt

Heading into the first matchup with the Cowboys in Week 14, Washington was 6–6 and looking for a big-time divisional win that would put them right back in the division race. Unfortunately, things went south fast, and after a 27–20 defeat to Dallas, Washington blew a double-digit lead to the Eagles and lost 27–17, dropping them to 6–8 and out of the NFC Wild Card picture. Flashing forward to the present day, Washington heads into a must-win rematch with their bitter rivals from the Lone Star State.

Here are three keys for the WFT to get sweet revenge on the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football:

Get back to the run game

During Washington’s four game winning streak, Washington was averaging over 135 rushing yards per game. The past two games, however, Washington averaged under 82 yards on the ground, which would rank 31st in the league if it were a season-long average. Antonio Gibson hasn’t quite been himself over the past few weeks, although he looked incredible at the start of Tuesday’s games against the Eagles. Unfortunately, Gibson left the game early with a toe injury, similar to the one he sustained last year. He has been listed as questionable on the final practice report of the week, and it is unknown if he will play. If Gibson is active, he needs to be the workhorse back that he was during the win streak. Dallas allows over 110 rushing yards per game, meaning he has a chance to get back into the swing of things in a must-win game on Sunday.

Pressure Dak Prescott

This key is pretty much a copy and paste of our Week 14 column, but it goes without saying how important it is to force Dak Prescott out of the pocket. Since his injury, he hasn’t felt nearly as comfortable throwing on the run as he used to, and while he has actually struggled to hit his receivers downfield as of late, Prescott is still one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league. The Cowboys have had a quality offensive line so far, but the same can be said for Washington’s defensive line. If the d-line is able to get in Prescott’s face quickly, he will be forced to roll out of the pocket and throw on the run, which he isn’t nearly as comfortable doing anymore. The d-line is going to need to have a much-improved showing after last week’s monstrosity against the Eagles. Jonathan Allen was just named a starter to the Pro Bowl — the first of his career — and will look to lead the defense against the Cowboys, who had their number last time around.

Limit Dallas’ defensive ends

Two weeks ago, we talked about how talented Micah Parsons was after he wreaked havoc on Washington’s offense. Talented isn’t even the word to describe him, more like other-worldly. What we failed to mention, however, is how impressive his counterpart, Randy Gregory, has played alongside Parsons. In just nine games, Gregory has six sacks, three forced fumbles as well as an interception. And it wasn’t just any interception; Gregory tipped in the air, spun around and readjusted to pick the ball off. Parsons and Gregory absolutely dominated Washington in their first meeting, combining for three sacks, two forced fumbles and Gregory’s absurd interception. If Washington wants a shot to split the season series, they need to limit the presence of Parsons and Gregory as much as possible.

It’s about as simple as it gets: Washington needs to beat the Cowboys or else the season is essentially over. Most players have returned from injury and COVID throughout the week, so Washington has as good of a chance as they will ever have to beat Dallas. Even with a win, Washington will need many other things to fall their way, including winning their final two games of the season, if they want to sneak into the playoffs for the second straight season.