It doesn’t get much bigger than this. That is a lie. It gets a lot bigger. Let’s face facts here this is a 5-5 Cowboys team taking on a 4-6 Redskins team for second place in a bad division. Whichever team wins this game will be given a little bit of false hope that they can win the division, and while possible for both either would need some help from the Giants. The Cowboys at 6-5 would be closer than the Redskins at 5-6, but either way the winner of this game will be in second place in a weak division with five games left in the season. Realistically the Redskins would have to win today and go 4-1 the rest of the way to have an outside shot at the playoffs.
While this game isn’t for the division crown, a playoff spot, or anything meaningful it is the Redskins vs. Cowboys on Thanksgiving day. No matter the number of people that argue that this is no longer a rivalry it is still one of the storied rivalries of sports. If you are old enough to remember when both teams were good at the same time this is an important match-up, but both teams in recent years have been hurt by overactive ownership. The Cowboys get more of the attention and are more of a disappointment because, for some reason, people keep expecting them to be good.
Tony Romo is the perfect example of a Cowboy with more name value than talent. Romo throws for a lot of yards and is mobile in the pocket, but is nothing more than an average quarterback. He ranks eighth in total yardage with 2916, but his 13 interceptions are second highest in the NFL. Romo will get the Cowboys into a position to score, but it isn’t enough to overcome his propensity for turning the ball over. The Cowboys have dangerous receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, but it is tough for them to do their jobs when a defender is running the other way down the field.
The talent gap between the Redskins and Cowboys is what one would expect from a 4-6 team to a 5-5 team. The Cowboys have good players in Bryant, Austin, Ware, and Jason Witten, but overall the rest of the talent is underwhelming. The Redskins meanwhile have RGIII, Alfred Morris, and Ryan Kerrigan. The true weakness of the Redskins is their secondary and if they are to lose today it will be because they were unable to limit the big play ability of Bryant or Austin. As good as though two receivers are the real threat to the Redskins is Jason Witten. Without a safety to cover him they are going to be forced to cover him with a corner he will be able to out muscle or a linebacker he will be able to out run.
The Cowboys have to worry about the running game of the Redskins. The Cowboys rank thirteenth in the NFL in rushing defense having allowed 106.6 yards a game. The Redskins running game is dangerous because teams don’t know who is going to run the ball. Morris has been a nice surprise as a six round pick in the 2012 draft and RGIII has been as dynamic as expected. Add in RGIII accurate passing and the Redskins running game becomes more versatile as they can disguise the run with draw plays and passing plays with play action.
The run game for the Redskins is going to have to be their strength today as the Cowboys pass defense ranks sixth in the NFL having allowed 211.4 yards a game. The Redskins should be able to get yardage by keeping the ball on the ground and the more the Cowboys have to worry about the run game more passing lanes will open. This is a game between two teams that aren’t that far off talent-wise and could go either way. For the Redskins to win it though they have to find a way to stop the Cowboys play making receivers on defense and run the ball on offense.