In fitting Thanksgiving Day fashion, the Washington Redskins (4-6) travel to the “House that Jerry Jones Built” on Thursday afternoon to take on the Dallas Cowboys (5-5). In a suddenly interesting NFC East, this game carries major implications on how the division could play out by season’s end.
Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III might have pulled ahead of Andrew Luck and Doug Martin in the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year race with his close-to-perfect passing day (14-of-15 with 200 yards and four touchdowns) and 84 rushing yards in last week’s 31-6 throttling of the Philadelphia Eagles.
While the Cowboys feature a tougher defense than what RGIII saw with Philly, it will be very interesting to see what their game plan is in stopping the talented quarterback in their first of many meetings over the next decade-plus.
Dallas comes into this matchup looking to extend its current two-game winning streak and try to catch the struggling New York Giants, who draw the Green Bay Packers this week. But a surprising 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns—at home, no less—proves that anything is possible in this league.
A home tilt with the Eagles, followed by a road contest with the Cincinnati Bengals, could catapult the Cowboys into the thick of a clouded NFC playoff race. Quarterback Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett would do well to shake some of the recent criticism with a victory on Thanksgiving Day.
Here is one bold prediction for each team, along with fantasy football "beast or bust" candidates in Thursday’s matchup.
Encore Performance for RGIII with 350 Total Yards and 3 touchdowns (Fantasy Beast)
With Griffin III coming off his best passing performance of his young career—with close to a triple-digit rushing total to boot—all eyes will be on the dynamic signal-caller to see what he is capable of doing in his first trip back to his home state since his days as a Baylor Bear.
Though the Cowboys feature a top-10 defense—allowing just 318 yards per game—RGIII will be amped up for this one and should show well.
On paper, Dallas should be able to do what it wants against a porous Redskins defense, so the score could easily be played in the 30s for both teams.
Griffin is the type of quarterback that thrives in shootouts, so we could all be in for a nice Thanksgiving treat on Thursday afternoon.
Tony Romo Finds 3 Different Cowboys Targets in the End Zone
Though the Redskins defense has tightened up recently—only allowing 314 yards per game over its last three outings—it’s safe to assume that Romo and Co. will be able to move the ball up and down the field on Thursday.
Washington’s defense ranks 29th in the league in passing yards allowed (289.2 per game) and is tied with several teams for second-to-last in the NFL, having yielded 20 touchdown passes.
Injuries have been a huge factor in Dallas having virtually no running game in 2012, only tallying 83.1 yards on the ground through 10 games. This will make it easy for the Redskins defense to focus on the Cowboys’ passing attack.
However, actually stopping Romo from consistently hitting his targets goes beyond a sound game plan. The quarterback has proven capable of big showings in the past, and his targets should have a rather easy time finding space to work with on Thursday.
Fantasy Bust: Cowboys Running Backs
DeMarco Murray is out, and Felix Jones hasn’t practiced after hurting his knee in last week’s win over the Browns. This leaves the Cowboys’ backfield in a complete mess, with Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner sharing the load.
If your response to that was “Who?” then you would join most of everyone outside of those close to the team. Unfortunately for Dunbar and Tanner, Thursday’s game will do nothing to change that.
With the Redskins' inability to stop the pass, the Cowboys should focus on attacking the second and third levels of Washington’s defense. Though setting that up with the run would certainly help, the insecurity and inexperience in the Dallas backfield could shift to more quick hits in the passing game to set up a downfield attack.
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