“Both teams right now still are battling, trying to keep their hopes alive,” Redskins linebacker London Fletcher
said this week. “Regardless of what the teams’ records were, if we were both 10-0 or 5-5, it wouldn’t matter. It’s a Cowboys-Redskins game. So it’ll be a hard-fought game. There’s always a lot of intensity in the game, a very competitive game. So the fact that we’re still just battling in a Thanksgiving Day game, it just adds to it.”
The Redskins have won only once since Oct. 14. That was last Sunday’s 31-6 triumph at home over the reeling Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys barely scraped by against the two-win Cleveland Browns last Sunday at Cowboys Stadium, winning on a field goal in overtime, and they’re on their first two-game winning streak of the season.
But in the current NFC East, that is enough to fancy one’s self a contender. The Giants are 6-4, the worst record of any NFL division leader, and are on a two-game losing streak. They have a demanding schedule down the stretch that includes a matchup Sunday with the Green Bay Packers and games later against the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens.
So if the Redskins win in Arlington, Tex., on Thursday and the Giants lose Sunday night to the Packers, the Redskins would be playing for a share of first place when they host the Giants in a Monday night game on Dec. 3.
“Both teams are very much in the playoff hunt and this game is a very pivotal game in both of our seasons,” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. “So I would call it a must-win for both teams. The short week just adds to the anxiety of the game. . . . There’s a lot of game-planning [but] not much time to practice the game plan. So it’s going to be a very, very tough game but I look forward to it.”
The Cowboys have some built-in advantages. The conventional thinking is that playing a game on such a quick turnaround favors a team with a veteran quarterback and the home team. The Cowboys, with Tony Romo, have the experience edge at quarterback, with Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III playing his first Thanksgiving game in the NFL as he returns to the state where he starred in high school and college.
The Cowboys have won five of their last six Thanksgiving games in their role as one of the traditional host teams on the holiday. They’re 28-15-1 on Thanksgiving, including 6-0 against the Redskins. The Redskins haven’t won on Thanksgiving since beating the Detroit Lions in 1973.