At the end of the 2012 season, the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins played each other with the NFC East title on the line. As the two teams meet in Week 16 in 2013, there’s a chance both could be eliminated from playoff contention when the game is over.
The season for the Redskins has been essentially over for quite some time. At 3-11, Washington’s postseason hopes were dashed within the first few weeks. They have the worst record in the conference, but won’t even have a high draft pick in 2014. They traded their first-round selection to the St. Louis Rams for the right to take Robert Griffin III.
Dallas’s playoff hopes are very much alive. They trail the Philadelphia Eagles by one game in the division, but control their own destiny. The Cowboys are set to host the Eagles in the final regular season game, and wins in their last two contests would keep them playing into 2014. A loss for Dallas on Sunday, coupled with an Eagles victory, would knock them out of contention. The Cowboys have no chance of earning a wild card berth.
"We feel fortunate to be in a position to control our destiny," Tony Romo said. "Last year we obviously didn't [get it done]. We had to sit with the Washington feeling all offseason. This year it's a great feeling to know we can go out and be a better team than we were last week and be able to do what we want to do.”
The rivals met on "Sunday Night Football" in Week Five. The Cowboys cruised to a 31-16 victory at home. The much-maligned Cowboys secondary had one of their best games, holding Griffin to a less than a 50 percent completion rate. The quarterback threw one interception and no touchdowns.
In the second matchup, Dallas won’t face Griffin. The second-year player has been shut down for the rest of the season, in order for him to fully recover from him knee injury. Kirk Cousins took over the full-time duties last week. He put up big numbers, throwing for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but a failed two-point conversion in the final seconds gave the Redskins another defeat.
The loss made it six in a row for the Redskins, who haven't won in regulation in two months. Not only have the Redskins not been able to pick up many wins, but a lot of their games haven’t been close. As a result, they are just 4-10 against the spread, putting them one loss away from having the worst mark in the NFL.
The Cowboys are in the midst of a losing streak of their own. They’ve at least a share of first place for almost the entire season, but two losses against backup quarterbacks has taken them out of the top spot. When they face another backup quarterback in Week 16, Dallas will enter the contest as the favorites. The betting line at most Las Vegas casinos is giving three points to the home Redskins.
Cousins will look to do what Josh McCown and Matt Flynn were able to do, which is take advantage of a poor secondary. In Weeks 14 and 15, they combined to throw for 647 yards and eight scores. The two performances have put Dallas last in the pass defense rankings.
Romo did his best to keep up with the opposing offenses, but he was unable to do so. Last Sunday, he threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter that allowed Green Bay to make a comeback.
Linebacker Sean Lee could miss his second straight game with a neck injury. That will hamper the Dallas defense, but Washington’s hasn’t been any better. They’ve given up fewer than 24 points in game just one time all season long, ranking them at the bottom of the league in points allowed.
Betting Odds: Dallas-3, 53.5
Prediction: Dallas 34, Washington 28