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In the second game of the Thanksgiving tripleheader, the Washington Football Team will head to the Lone Star State to play the Dallas Cowboys. Despite both teams being just 3-7 after wins last Sunday, a victory on Thursday for one team would elevate them into first place in the lowly but up-for-grabs NFC East.
Here is a preview for Thursday's matchup between Washington and the Cowboys, complete with a free pick. Dallas has opened up as a three-point favorite in this highly-anticipated matchup.
It's been a strange year for Washington, with a new name, a new coach, and a trio of starting quarterbacks that have seen the field. But this is a team that fights hard, with wins in two of its last five and losses in that stretch by a combined seven points.
Washington seems to have found a boost from veteran quarterback Alex Smith, who made his improbable return to the field two years after a devastating leg injury. Smith has nearly 1,000 yards with a pair of touchdowns in four games, three of them starts.
Others to watch for Washington include running back J.D. McKissic and wide receiver Terry McLaurin, the latter of whom has an impressive 871 receiving yards to go with three touchdowns.
As a team, Washington still finds itself near the bottom of the league in most offensive statistics. It ranks fourth-to-last with 20 points per game and averages the sixth-fewest yards per game with just under 346.
In addition, Washington is also 24th in both average passing yards and rushing yards and just 26th on third-down conversions.
However, Ron Rivera's club has had a very respectable defense through the first 10 games of the season. They are inside the top 10 in both points allowed with 22.7 and yards allowed with 338.
While Washington has been somewhat average against the run, no team is allowing fewer passing yards per game than the 195 Washington allows. A big part of that is due to its talented pass rush, which has helped it tie for the third-most sacks in the NFL with 32.
What was once a season full of promise has been filled with disappointment and losing for America's Team. Dallas has gone through three starting quarterbacks after Dak Prescott was lost for the season in Week 5.
But last week's win against the Vikings snapped a four-game losing streak and elevated them to the thick of the division race. They received a boost from quarterback Andy Dalton, who, despite dealing with injury issues of his own, has 655 yards and four touchdowns in four games, three of them starts.
Plenty of weapons still remain, including running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
Dallas' offensive numbers as a team are a little skewed, as it was significantly better with Prescott than without him. As a result of those first few games, the Cowboys are fourth with 415 total yards per game, aided mostly by an average of 276 passing yards.
But they are just 20th with 23.5 points per game, while also sitting in the bottom half of the NFL in third-down percentage.
Defensively, the Cowboys have continued to struggle. Dallas is allowing a league-worst 31.8 points per game and the second-most rushing yards with just under 154.
The Cowboys have been decent against the pass, which is why they're only 23rd with 396 total yards allowed per game. The Cowboys also boast 19 sacks on the season but have a paltry three interceptions as a team.
Washington has struggled on the road this season, going 0-4 straight up and 1-3 against the spread. The Cowboys are 2-3 straight up at home, but just 1-4 ATS.
Washington is also 3-7 ATS in its last 10 NFC games, while Dallas is 1-7 ATS in its last eight conference games. However, Dallas has won seven of the last 10 meetings between these two teams, covering in all but one of them.
This is the second time this year these teams have played, with Washington blasting Dallas 25-3 at home about a month ago. They won that game with elite defense, earning six sacks and racking up two forced fumbles and an interception. That was also the game where Dalton suffered a concussion that sidelined him up until last weekend.
Even though Washington hasn't won away from home yet this season, I think it has the recipe to beat Dallas. A ferocious pass rush should make life difficult for Dalton and Dallas' passing game for all four quarters.
While there is a chance Elliott goes off, I don't believe the Cowboys have demonstrated the ability to stop anyone on offense, which bodes well for Smith and McLaurin. I'm picking Washington to cover and would feel comfortable betting them to win the game as well.
Pick: Washington +3