The last time these two teams met, the Cowboys missed a game-saving field goal, following a controversial snap infraction penalty called against Dallas. However, the two teams are both radically different then they were in week seven.
For the Cowboys, newly acquired receiver Amari Cooper has given Dallas a true weapon outside. Cooper lessens the numbers of defenders in the box, which gives Ezekiel Elliott a better chance to be productive on the ground. Also, Xavier Su’a-filo replaced Connor Williams at left guard. Recently, Xavier has played rather well. He is a hard to move– big bodied guard in the middle of the offensive line. Xavier, along with the rest of the starters on the offensive line, seems to fit the new offensive line coordinator’s philosophy very well. Marc Colombo, the new OL coach, believes in being the first to punch the defensive line in the mouth. They pride themselves on being aggressive and attacking rather than reacting.
On defense, the team continues to impress. Rookie Leighton Vander Esch is becoming a household name. Vander Esch makes impact plays every week. He has an interception in back to back games. But, what is most encouraging is his ability to fight off blocks and make tackles. Last week, against the Falcons Vander Esch tackled both an offensive lineman and the ball-carrier. His big and tall frame poses a miss-match to most players.
The Redskins have had their fair share of changes as well. Starting off with the biggest change, Alex Smith broke his leg against the Texans. According to Washington, former Texas Longhorn, Colt McCoy will start on Thanksgiving day. Hopefully, the Cowboys do not underestimate McCoy’s ability, as he has beaten this team before in his last start. Like Alex Smith, McCoy can make the easy throws and also make yards with his legs. However, McCoy is known a little more like a “gun-slinging” type of QB. If the Cowboys can pressure the QB, they should get opportunities to cause turnovers.
The Washington Redskins have been beaten up pretty bad on the offensive line. Left tackle, Trent Williams has lost time due to a broken thumb but is scheduled to make his return. Rookie tackle, Geron Christian is out for the rest of the season after tearing his medial collateral ligament. Washington also lost their two starting guards, Brandon Scherff, and Shawn Lauvao.
Not to be too much “doom and gloom”, the Redskins did acquire Ha Ha Clinton Dix via trade. Their defense is a top 10 unit in the NFL and will try to trick Dak into making mistakes.
The teams look vastly different from week 7, but the rivalry still brings an intensity and because it is a division game–nothing is impossible. Even with a backup quarterback, expect the Cowboys to hold nothing back anything. Kris Richard will dial up blitzes to abuse the poorly-patched offensive line and rush Colt McCoy. The Cowboys will figure out just how much their offensive line has developed against Washington’s nasty front.
These next two games, against the Redskins and the Saints, are pivotal games for Dallas. If the Cowboys can exit this stretch 1-1, they are in great position to win the division.
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