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NFL Week 16 Preview: Cowboys vs. Redskins

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys will be trying to erase their reputation as a bad December bet and secure a playoff spot this Sunday night. Standing in their way is a long-time rival which would relish the role of spoiler.

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Oddsmakers have set the Washington Redskins as 6.5-point home underdogs when they host the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.

Dallas took the first meeting between these teams this year, defeating Washington 7-6 but failing to cover as an 11-point home favorite. The Cowboys have won the last two meetings with the Redskins and are 5-5 in the last 10 games with their NFC East foe. The Redskins boast a profitable 7-2 mark against the spread in that span.

Dallas is riding high after handing the New Orleans Saints their first loss of the season on Saturday. The Cowboys played perhaps their best two-way game of the year, getting great efforts on both sides of the football. They limited the Saints to 65 yards rushing and picked off New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees once, sacked him four times, and forced the MVP candidate to fumble twice – most notably on the final drive of the game.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware forced both those fumbles on his two sacks. Ware came into that game as a questionable start after injuring his neck the week before. Also getting in on the action was pass-rush specialist Anthony Spencer, who sacked Brees twice and snuffed out short passes and running plays for five tackles.

Dallas’ defense held Washington to 324 total yards in its Week 11 victory. The Cowboys picked off Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell once and Spencer recorded a solo sack. They limited a banged up Washington rushing attack to just 78 yards on 20 carries.

The Redskins managed just 89 yards on the ground in their 45-12 loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. Washington is without starter Clinton Portis and backup Ladell Betts, leaving the carries to Marcus Mason and Quinton Ganther. The Skins ranks 25th in the NFL in rushing and have scored just eight times on the ground.

With the rushing game lacking any punch, the bulk of the offense falls on Campbell. He’s coming off a rough game against the Giants, passing for just 192 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Campbell voiced his disappointment with Monday’s loss to the media and quietly called out his teammates, questioning if some players quit. He may be pointing fingers at his offensive line, which allowed their quarterback to get sacked five times.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is playing some of the best football of his career. Last week, No. 9 lit up the Saints for 312 yards and touchdown. Romo has totaled 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns in his last four games. More importantly, Romo has not thrown an interception during that span. Against the Redskins in Week 11, he was just 15-for-27 passing for 156 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Romo’s favorite target, Miles Austin, continues to have a breakout year for Dallas. The speedy receiver had a big day against New Orleans, catching seven balls for 137 yards and a touchdown. Austin is eighth in the NFL in receiving yards, averaging more than 81 yards per game. His ability to pick up yards after the catch has helped him find the end zone 11 times.

Washington’s defense has a lot of work to do before Sunday night. The Redskins’ stop unit was run over by New York, allowing Eli Manning to pass for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns. Washington’s pass defense has been its strength all season, ranking fifth in the NFL.

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is coming off his best game since joining the Redskins, sacking Manning once and totaling six tackles in the loss. Haynesworth has a history with the Cowboys stemming back to a vicious stomping of guard Andre Gurode in 2006. Expect to see some fireworks in the trenches if these two monsters collide.

Oddsmakers have set Sunday night’s total at 42.5 points. These teams played under the 41.5-point total in Week 11 and have fallen below the number in three of their last four meetings. Dallas owns a 6-8 over/under record while Washington comes into this NFC East rivalry with an 8-6 over/under mark.

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Comments

Comments

  1. The Redskins would love nothing better than to spoil the Cowboys postseason plans, but after watching last week’s performance against the Giants it appears there is nothing left in their tank to get it done.

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