Thursday Night Football Breakdown – Redskins @ Cowboys
The best portion of the NFL schedule is the part that takes place after Thanksgiving and we’re definitely in for some good stuff between now and Week 17. This week’s TNF match up is the only one where both teams come in on normal rest and it features division rivals that are fighting for their playoff lives. This could mean that TNF will be pretty good! I’m surprised that the ‘Skins are favored, but I guess that tells us a lot about the state of the ‘Boys without Zeke. Cowboys and Indians, here we go!
Brad’s take: For a few weeks the Dak-Wentz debate was kinda funny, but it doesn’t make sense to talk about it anymore in light of recent results. It’s been a banner week for NFC East QBs so let’s address the elephant in the room: Wentz is the best QB in the division, Cousins is the most underrated QB in the division, Dak might have more upside than anyone else in the division, and Eli is the division’s best clipboard carrier.
This is a very good match up on the field. Obviously no one is catching the Iggles, but both teams have hopes of making the playoffs. The strange thing in my opinion is that the game opened at Redskins -1.5 on the road. This essentially means that the pros consider Washington 4.5 points better than the ‘Boys! I don’t see it that way at all. My best guess is Cowboys 27, Redskins 24, but I do think that we’re in for one of the better TNF games of the year.
Chris’s take: Jerry Jones may be high on Jason Garrett, but I’m not so sure the Cowboy’s struggles are all Dak Prescott. If you read this week’s AAR, you might have picked up on my reluctance to condemn a QB for a team’s failures (unless it’s Brett Hundley) in my review of the Chiefs loss. I’m kidding about Brett Hundley of course, I pointed to the Packer’s issues as a club earlier in the season, but I really do think the Chiefs and the Boys are suffering from more than stagnant play at the QB position.
The Cowboys have struggled on offense but I’m not really surprised. Zeke’s absence means opposing teams are able to better scheme against their next best weapon, Dak. The young quarterback now has to rely on the aging Jason Witten, a reliable source of yards but a far cry from the Pro Bowl caliber player we last saw in 2014, Dez Bryant who has 102 targets this season and only 52 receptions for less than 600 yards, that’s not an anomaly either if you look at his numbers from 2016, and Terrance Williams? Surprisingly, Williams has been targeted half the number of times as Dez, and he’s nearly produced the same number of yards. The Cowboys have no other offensive weapons for Dak to work with, and their passing game is suffering because of it. Zeke’s impact on this team is obvious to me, he forces opponents to account for him and that has made a mediocre offense difficult to contend with, but he’s gone now.
The Cowboys will lose this game unless Jason Garrett puts Dak Prescott in a position to succeed and that requires figuring out how to get more out of an offense that has overachieved for the better part of two seasons.
Danny’s take: Given how they’ve played over the past month and the amount of injuries that they have been dealing with I think the Redskins are better than their record indicates. They beat the Seahawks in Seattle and then almost beat the Saints. The Cowboys on the other hand have looked awful minus Ezekiel Elliot. Dak Prescott looks much more pedestrian, the defense can’t stop anyone, and Dez Bryant can’t get separation. The Cowboys have been surprisingly bad at home this year. The Cowboys are currently 2-4 at home and appear to be in a funk. I think the Redskins play just well enough to beat Dallas on Thursday.