The Dallas Cowboys weren’t expected to be a contender in 2014 season, following three straight years of going 8-8. But after winning six of their first seven games, the Cowboys are being recognized as one of the NFL’s best ahead of their Week 8 “Monday Night Football” matchup at AT&T Stadium with the Washington Redskins.
No team is a bigger favorite on the Week 8 schedule, as the Cowboys are giving the visiting Redskins 9.5 points, according to the betting odds at most Las Vegas casinos. Only the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers have better odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl.
Even the harshest Cowboys' critic would have to admit that the team has been as good as anyone this season. Dallas sports a top 10 scoring defense, Tony Romo is playing like a top 5 quarterback, and DeMarco Murray continues to make his case to be named the league’s MVP.
The running back’s injury history has some fearing that he won’t be able to continue his success, but he's showing no signs of slowing down. His 913 rushing yards are almost 300 more than the No.2 rusher, and he set a record by starting the season with seven 100-yard games. He’s scored in all but one contest, and never averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in a single game.
Washington doesn’t have anything close to an MVP candidate on their roster. Alfred Morris rushed for 2,888 yards in his first two seasons, but he’s struggled in 2014. He has 440 rushing yards on 3.8 yards per carry, failing to rush for 91 yards in any game.
Even more troubling for the Redskins has been their quarterback situation. Washington will likely start their third signal caller this year when they visit Dallas.
Colt McCoy replaced Kirk Cousins in Week 7, helping to lead the team in a 19-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans. He’ll get the start after he was nearly perfect in the victory, unless Robert Griffin III is cleared to play. McCoy completed 11-of-12 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
He might be the best option as Cousins struggles and Griffin continues to recover from his injury, but McCoy wasn’t the team’s third-string quarterback by accident. He went 6-15 in two years as the Cleveland Browns starter, and attempted just one pass last year.
The Redskins will be without one of their top linebackers on Monday. Brian Orakpo is set to miss the rest of the year with a torn pectoral muscle. Without Orakpo and having allowed over 31 points per game in the last five contests, the over/under for Washington’s game with Dallas is 49.5 points.
At 2-5 on the season and 0-2 in the NFC East, Washington needs a win to have any reasonable chance to compete for a playoff spot. The Redskins have been one of the league’s worst teams since Week 10 of last year, only beating the Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars during that span.
Prediction: The Cowboys are clearly the better team, but the Redskins are usually competitive with their rivals. During their 13-loss 2013 season, the Redskins lost by just one point against Dallas without Griffin at quarterback. The Redskins have allowed a running back to total more than 72 yards on the ground just once this year, and if they can limit Murray at all, they might be able to keep the game within 10 points.
Predicted Score: Dallas over Washington, 27-20