Two NFL franchises that have a tradition and history as ingrained in the football world as the holidays they are often featured on, meet on Sunday in Dallas when the Cowboys host the Washington Redskins. These two teams did meet last Thanksgiving, and while Dallas was on their way to a playoff berth the Redskins were just beginning their recovery from losing starting quarterback Alex Smith.
On November 18, the quarterback the Redskins had acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs while that team made room for Patrick Mahomes to take over their starting job, suffered a gruesome injury against the Houston Texans. The Redskins appeared on their way to a playoff berth before Smith went down, but their season fizzled after that including a loss on Thanksgiving to the Cowboys.
Smith is still recovering from that injury, and the Redskins are still looking for a quarterback to take Jay Gruden’s team to the playoffs. This season, Washington is relying on veteran signal caller Case Keenum. They also spent their first draft choice on Dwayne Haskins. The 22-year-old signal caller out of Ohio State appears on course to be the Redskins signal caller of the future, but Keenum is one of those players that produces more than advertised everywhere he goes.
Two years ago he guided the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, and last week, staked the Redskins to a 17-0 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The highly regarded Eagles were able to come-from-behind to take the lead, but Keenum still brought the Redskins closer with a late TD that cut the Eagles winning margin to five points, 32-27.
While the Redskins were losing on the road, the Cowboys were dominating the New York Giants in Dallas. Ending his contract holdout, runningback Ezekiel Elliott arrived in time to start in the Cowboys backfield last week. He led Dallas rushers with 53 yards, while the Cowboys win was much more pinned to the 405 passing yards put up by Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys quarterback connected on four touchdown tosses and didn’t surrender a pick in Dallas’ easy win, 35-14.
So, in an old fashioned game of Cowboys and Indians, these two long time NFL rivals square off on Sunday at FedExField. The Cowboys are favored on the point spread, but not by my numbers.
Washington gave the Eagles all they could handle on their home field last Sunday, and while Philadelphia was able to scorch the Redskins defense for the come-from-behind win, Washington was, if this is possible, impressive in the loss.
Gruden is beginning his sixth season as the Redskins head coach, more than any other mentor during Daniel Snyder’s reign as team owner. Since buying the Washington franchise in 1999, Snyder has cycled through seven other coaches who have had varying degrees of success without ever adding a Super Bowl to the Redskins collection.
So, what do we have here when these two tangle on Sunday?
We’ve got the Cowboys coming off an impressive home win over a division rival, and the Redskins in dire need of a win here to avoid being eliminated from serious playoff contention so early in the season. What that does is put the Cowboys in a want mode and the Redskins in a need mode.
Need over want every time.
Qoxhi Picks: Washington Redskins (+6) over Dallas Cowboys