ASHBURN, Va. - It's a Thanksgiving 2020 clash between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team, and while we all might be turkeys for hoping and wanting this game to be good, we can't deny that it is meaningful for both clubs.
Two three-win teams going in ... and the winner will be in first place at 8 p.m. Thursday night.
The WFT destroyed the Cowboys in Week 7, by a score of 25-3, before the Washington bye. But things have changed for both teams since that game. Odds are it will not be anywhere close to being that easy on Thursday.
From a Washington perspective, they have a new quarterback (Alex Smith), a new left tackle (expected to be Morgan Moses) and Landon Collins was lost for the season in that particular game.
The Cowboys are different too. Andy Dalton is still the starter, but remember he was knocked out of the game by Jon Bostic on a dirty hit. Zack Martin played right tackle last week in a win over Minnesota instead of right guard and he didn't even play in the first game between the two. Randy Gregory has been added to the mix for Dallas and they've lost corner Trevon Diggs, who went at it with Terry McLaurin and lost badly ... while adding back fellow corner Chidobe Awuzie. '
Let's dig deeper into how the Cowboys are shaping up recently and for the season.
The Cowboys - for a three-win team - are fairly decent in most statistical categories on offense. They are averaging more than 33 passing yards per game above and compared to the NFL average.
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The only area that they are well behind is in goal-to-go % conversions, which is important because if Washington can bend but not break, you extend the game.
On defense, after a very rough start, Dallas' numbers are starting to come down at least in passing yards per game, but make no mistake about it, the Washington Football Team is going to have opportunities to score with Dallas allowing almost 32 points per game on average.
However, over the last four games (at Washington, at Philadelphia, home for Pittsburgh and at Minnesota), they've only a 25.0 points per game average, which is just a hair above the league mark of 24.9.
Also over that span, despite getting gashed by the WFT for over 200 yards on the ground, they've allowed an average of 124.5 rushing yards per game, way down from their season average of 153.8.
The Cowboys also seem to be feast or famine on third down the last four games. They allowed 60% in two games (Washington, Minnesota) or in the high 30's (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh)
Not good, but not as awful as they were.
The bottom line for the Cowboys is this: They have more talent at receiver, running back and at defensive end, it's probably a draw with the WFT.
The Cowboys, on paper, should win this game. They are coming off a surprise victory and play at home with some fans behind them. Dallas is the favorite and it would be a slight surprise if Washington is able to put it together for near 60 minutes to win.