The Washington Redskins look to cap off a busy week with another victory when they take on the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Owners of a 6-3-1 record, the Redskins enter this game as seven-point underdogs against the 9-1 Cowboys. The Redskins have won their past two games at Dallas, and three of their past four. Now, they aim to avenge a 27-23 loss to Dallas at FedEx Field in Week 2 of this season.
Here are some of the key matchups to follow in this game:
Washington ILBs Mason Foster and Will Compton vs. Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott
The Redskins did one of the better jobs against the Cowboys’ talented rookie rusher this season, holding Elliott to 83 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in their first meeting. Elliott didn’t get a lot of yards after contact, which is something that he has excelled at. Of his 1,102 rushing yards, 649 have come after contact, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Elliott, who has four games of 130 or more yards this season, has gotten better since Week 2, Redskins defenders say. He has a better feel and understanding for the game and knows how to use his blend of speed and power more effectively.
“He’s a complete back,” says Foster, who ranks second on the team in tackles behind Compton. “He’s really strong. Powerful back. You’ve really got to bring your arms and get everybody to the party.”
The Redskins hope to take away the run game and put more pressure on Dallas rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who with his 17 touchdown passes, two interceptions and 2,640 passing yards, owns the third-best passer rating in the league (108.6) behind Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.
Washington WR Jamison Crowder vs. Dallas DB Orlando Scandrick
In his last meeting with the Cowboys, Crowder had six catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. His production has increased as the season has progressed. Crowder has 100-yard games in three of his past four outings, and he has scored touchdowns in three straight. Scandrick has battled some nagging injuries, but now has regained full strength. He and a Cowboys defense that ranks 13th against the pass will have their work cut out for them against Crowder, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins, who boast the third-most-prolific passing attack in the league.
Washington CB Josh Norman vs. Dallas WR Dez Bryant
Bryant had one of his better games of the season (seven catches, 102 yards) the last time he played the Redskins. He put up those numbers through three quarters. Then defensive coordinator Joe Barry put Josh Norman on the receiver in the final frame. Norman neutralized Bryant, but the damage was done. It’s expected that this time around, Norman will follow Bryant around and try to eliminate Prescott’s most impactful target.
Washington LG Shawn Lauvao vs. Dallas DT Tyrone Crawford
The Cowboys this season don’t have a premier edge rusher. But Crawford leads the way as the most disruptive force in the trenches with a team-high 3½ sacks to go with 22 tackles. Lauvao had struggled at times last week against the Packers and looks to rebound this week. Washington’s line has done a good job of protecting Cousins and paving the way for Rob Kelley in the run game. Maintaining the same level of play and balance will go a long way to ensuring success for Washington.
Washington DB Kendall Fuller vs. Dallas WR Cole Beasley
The rookie corner boasts promise, but Fuller has had his share of struggles, particularly in the past two weeks. Now the third-round pick draws another tough assignment: matching up with the shifty Beasley, who has developed into a great safety net for Prescott. Bryant is the big-play receiver, but it’s Beasley who leads the Cowboys in every receiving category (53 catches for 591 yards, five touchdowns and 35 first downs).
Washington QB Kirk Cousins vs. Dallas DC Rod Marinelli
Cousins put up numbers on Marinelli’s defense the last time they faced off in Week 2, completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 346 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the Cowboys’ 27-23 win. But the quarterback and his unit couldn’t cash in fully, having to settle for three field goals rather than touchdowns. Cousins’s early-season struggles now seem to have ended. In the past three games, he has thrown for 1,095 yards, seven touchdowns and only one interception. Now coming off of Sunday’s three-touchdown performance, Cousins aims to remain hot and give his team a chance to hand the Cowboys their first loss since Week 1.
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