Happy Thanksgiving! This is time of year we gather to enjoy family, friend , food, and of course…football. This season’s turkey day lineup offers some intriguing match ups , one of which is a NFC East rematch between the Redskins (6-3-1) and Cowboys (9-1).
Here’s how the two teams fair based on our Week 11 data:
Requisite Reads for Newcomers:
In the Week 2 meeting between the two squads, the Cowboys traveled to defeat the Redskins 27-23. The win launched an nine-game streak for the Cowboys which fuels their current first place ranking in both NFL league standings and BES Overall. However, their momentum has has stonewalled, evidenced by a .01 drop in their BES Overall score from our Week 10 report.
Similarly, the Redskins, despite an explosive 42-24 win over the Packers (4-6) in Week 11, suffered a .09 drop in BES Overall. Nonetheless, they are 6-1-1 in their last eight games, falling only to the Lions (6-4) in Week 7. Energized by the fiery leadership of quarterback Kirk Cousins, their offense is averaging 25.1 points per contest. When that is matched against the Cowboys 28.1 points per game, you have the makings of a high-scoring affair.
KEY MATCHUP: Kirk Cousins vs. Cowboys Pass Rush
Cousins enters this game with a full and healthy armament of offensive weaponry. That arsenal includes receivers Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson, tight end Jordan Reed and a pair of multi-purpose halfbacks in Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley.
Couple that cast of playmakers with a Pass Protection score of 3.12 and it becomes apparent why Cousins has thrown for 1,396 yards and eight touchdowns against one interception in his last four contests. This makes it paramount for the Cowboys to pressure Cousins often and early.
The Cowboys were able to hit Cousins eight times and sack him twice in Week 2 but they presently own a lackluster Pass Pressure score of 2.18. Their pass rush has been virtually non-existent in recent weeks, a troubling trend that has put added weight on the shoulders of a secondary that will be missing star cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin).
X-FACTOR: Cowboys HB Ezekiel Elliot
It seems odd listing Elliot as the X-factor in this game given the fact that he leads the league with 1,102 rushing yards and is third in rushing touchdowns with nine.
However, when we examine the 2.82 Ball Control score of the Cowboys against a 3.07 for the Redskins, it’s clear that Elliot will be key in a tight battle for time of possession. If the Cowboys are successful, it’d mean Cousins and his No. 6-ranked BES Offense become sideline spectators for the majority of the game.
The Cowboys continued struggles mounting an effective pass rush could decide this game’s outcome, especially considering the secondary will miss Claiborne and safety Barry Church (forearm) who had an endzone interception in the first game . That interception prevented the Redskins from taking a possible 30-20 lead with 10:35 left to play.
However, behind the clutch playmaking ability of quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys offense has risen to every challenge from opposing offenses to keep pace on the scoreboard. Therefore, with home field advantage and a bulldozing offensive line, we expect the Cowboys to edge the Redskins and further tighten their hold on the NFC East.