The best NFL game on Thanksgiving will take place between two NFC East rivals. The Dallas Cowboys host the Washington Redskins in a matchup between two of the conference’s top teams. The game will go a long way in determining the winner of the division.
Dallas can virtually end Washington’s chances of winning the NFC East with a victory on Thursday afternoon. Heading into Week 12, the Cowboys have a 2.5-game lead over the Redskins, whom they defeated earlier this season. It was the start of what has turned into a nine-game winning streak for Dallas, giving them the best record in the entire league.
As good as the Cowboys have been, the Redskins have played nearly as well since that Week 2 matchup. The Redskins have just one loss over the last nine weeks, defeating some of the NFC’s top teams and losing only to the first-place Detroit Lions in a last-second comeback. They concluded Sunday’s slate of games with a 42-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Washington totaled a season-high in points against Green Bay, but their offensive outburst shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. With a top running game and Kirk Cousins playing like a Pro Bowl quarterback, the Redskins have the NFL’s No.2 offense, averaging 418.5 yards per game.
Since losing in the first two weeks of the season, Washington is scoring just under 27 points per game. Cousins has 16 touchdown passes and four interceptions during that time, posting a passer rating of better than 97.0 in six of eight contests.
Dallas’ offense has been just as dominant during their winning streak, and Thursday’s contest is likely to be a high-scoring affair that has a good chance to surpass the over/under of 51. The Cowboys have scored fewer than 27 points just once since Week 2, and their rookie MVP candidates seem to get better each week.
Seizing the No. 1 quarterback role from the injured Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has been better than just about any quarterback, other than Tom Brady. He’s posted a passer rating of better than 103.0 in eight of his last nine games, and there’s little reason to believe he won’t put up impressive numbers against Washington.
The Redskins have allowed the best quarterbacks on their schedule to have success in 2016. Aaron Rodgers threw for over 350 yards and three scores on Sunday, while Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford posted passer ratings of 112.4 and 103.5, respectively, when they faced Washington.
The difference in Thursday’s contest could come in the running game. Dallas’ ability to move the ball on the ground while stopping opposing rushers makes them extremely difficult to defeat, especially when they take a lead.
Behind the best offensive line in football, Ezekiel Elliott has distanced himself from the rest of the league with 1,102 rushing yards. He totaled 127 yards from scrimmage in Sunday’s win against the Baltimore Ravens, who visited Dallas with the NFL’s No. 1 defense. In four games against run defenses that rank in the top nine, Elliott has 419 rushing yards. He hasn’t rushed for less than 92 yards in any game since Dallas faced Washington two months ago.
Only the Ravens and Carolina Panthers have surrendered fewer rushing yards than Dallas. They haven’t let any player run for more than 57 yards in each of the last three games.
The Cowboys are seven-point favorites at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks, via OddsShark. While Dallas is the better team, Thursday’s game should be a close one that goes down to the wire.
Prediction: Dallas over Washington, 31-28