NFL Thursday Night Predictions
Will The Cowboys Return To Playoff Contention?
Dallas was one of the best teams of the 2016 NFL regular season, earning a 13-3 record before Aaron Rodgers destroyed the Cowboys playoff hopes with a vintage clutch performance. America’s team hasn’t been the same this year: Dak Prescott’s in the middle of a sophomore slump, while the run struggles without Ezekiel Elliott.
Washington was expected to be a part of a three-horse race for the NFC East title, but dropped off since week six, losing four of their last six games, including a heart-breaking overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints. The ‘Skins will have a tough time knocking off Dallas in Arlington, even if the ‘Boys look like they’re in the middle of an interminable slump.
- Game: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys
- Pick: Dallas Covers +2 Spread, Over 47.0
- NFL Odds Courtesy of Sports Interaction
Redskins at Cowboys - Vital Trends
Washington Injuries Sap Team Strength
NFL football’s one of the toughest sports in North America, and Washington’s list of injuries shows how a solid lineup can become decimated beyond recognition. Sixteen players occupy the injured reserve list, including WE Terrelle Pryor, safety Su’a Cravens, and a trio of running backs. TE Jordan Reed will sit once against, while seven others remain doubtful or questionable at best. No team can survive injures to half the roster, regardless of coaching genius or quality at the pivot position.
Injuries Worsened Mediocre Washington Defense
Last season, the ‘Skins defense was mediocre, allowing 23.9 PPG – but it was enough to allow an above average offense the chance to win most games, resulting in a positive point differential. Injures have decimated the defensive squad more than the offense, plunging Washington to 25.1 PPG allowed, seventh worst in the league. As such, this has created a negative point differential in 2017, making it tough for their offense to win games.
Kirk Cousins A Bright Spot
Cousins continues to bet on himself, signing one-year contracts on a yearly basis, creating a situation where he’s motivated to perform well because every year’s a contract season. This year, he’s provided what many NFL teams desperately need: a solid pivot who doesn’t contribute to losing on a weekly basis. So far, his numbers are slightly up compared to last year, earning a 101.1 passer rating, compared to a 97.2 rating in 2016. If Washington wins, it’ll be on the strength of a strong evening from Cousins.
Key Cowboys Return
Prescott and Elliott receive most of the headlines, but the Cowboys three-game losing streak revolves around the loss of key players in the trenches. Offensive linebacker La’el Collins will return, along with tackle Tyron Smith. Dak has been sacked 14 times in three games because his protection was lacking, reducing his margin of error to slim fractions of time. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Anthony Hitchens will return, giving the team a valuable veteran boost.
Protected Prescott Has Opportunity To Break Out Of Slump
With greater protection from his offensive line, Dak Prescott will have an opportunity to break out of his three-game slump against an unimpressive Washington defense. An extra second or two makes a big difference for a pivot with the ability to run and throw from play action, and his receivers will enjoy a bit more time to break free from an underwhelming secondary. Dak won’t crush the ‘Skins, but the Cowboys should enjoy sufficient scoring to cover the spread.
NFL Thursday Night X-Factors
Washington has lost seven of their last ten meetings against the Cowboys, with a 33.3% win rate when visiting Dallas. Over their considerable history, Dallas has a 65-39 record against Washington, dominating this matchup more than any divisional rival from the NFC East.
Despite boasting a 100.0 passer rating against the Cowboys over his career, Kirk Cousins has a 1-5 record against Dallas. Cousins has a 1-3 record on Thursdays and a 4-8 mark when playing in primetime. Too many players are hurt for Washington to support their star pivot, making this game the Cowboys to lose.
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