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Washington Commanders vs Dallas Cowboys Preview: 3 matchups to watch

The Washington Commanders have their second NFC East game in a row, and travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders have lost two games in a row and now sit at the bottom of the NFC East with a 1-2 record. The team has not scored a point in the first half during those two losses, and didn't score against the Philadelphia Eagles until the 4th quarter last week.

Week 4 is another division game. Washington travels to Dallas to face the Cowboys in a game they have to win to stay in the division race. They will be facing backup QB Cooper Rush who is 3-0 as a Cowboys starter, two of those wins came over the last two weeks in relief of Dak Prescott. Washington comes in as the road underdog, but a lot of bettors are picking them to cover the 3 point spread. You can check out the odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Matchup 1: Scott Turner, Carson Wentz, and the OL vs. Dallas’s Defense

Last week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles was a disaster for the Washington Commanders offense. As I said up top, they didn’t score a point until the 4th quarter, and they looked overwhelmed by the Eagles pass rush all game. Philly ended up sacking Carson Wentz 9 times during the game, and he was under constant pressure. There were debates all week about who was more to blame for the Eagles defense being able to get to the QB so much.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner has been slow to adjust to his game plan early in games, and Carson Wentz isn’t adjusting on the fly. Wentz has been slow to get rid of the ball which doesn’t help an offensive line with new players at guard and a constant rotation of new starting centers. That all combined for a headline grabbing day for the Philadelphia defense.

Enter the Dallas Cowboys who have the most sacks in the NFL entering Week 4(followed closely by Philadelphia thanks to last week’s game). Micah Parsons leads the way for the Cowboys defense with 4 sacks, but he is everywhere during games. Parsons was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and is looking for the Defensive Player of the Year award in his 2nd season.

Washington will need to get the ball out faster, provide better protection, and call a game that takes advantage of opportunistic Cowboy’s defenders like Trevon Diggs. Antonio Gibson needs to have a big game in both pass protection and on the ground to keep Wentz off his back. If Washington can’t protect him like last week this will be another long, painful game to watch.

Matchup 2: Washington’s DL vs Cooper Rush

Cooper Rush took over for Dak Prescott after he injured his thumb in Week 1 and needed surgery. Jerry Jones has been hyping this young QB up, while also trying to speed up the return of his QB1 in the media. Dallas has been winning, but Rush is clearly a backup level QB, and that will give Washington’s defense opportunities to force mistakes.

Washington’s defensive line has been hit with injuries, but they are getting several players back this week. DEs James Smith-Williams(abdominal) and Casey Toohill(concussion) should be back this week, and Daniel Wise could also rejoin the DL rotation after suffering a high-ankle sprain. Daron Payne and Montez Sweat have been getting extra attention from offenses, and they will need other players to step up and pressure the QB.

Cooper Rush is averaging 225 passing yards and 1 TD over his two starts. He is not a running threat, with only 3 rushes for 0 yards. Rush was sacked twice in Week 1, but has only taken 1 sack over the last two weeks. He gets the ball out fast when he’s passing, and Washington’s LBs and DBs will need to be ready for it.

Matchup 3: Washington’s Secondary vs. Cowboys receiving threats

Dallas is expected to get WR Michael Gallup and TE Dalton Schultz back to help their depleted receiving group. The Cowboys current leader in receiving yards is Noah Brown. Their #1 WR CeeDee Lamb has been very hot and cold, and has been dropping passes, but then making spectacular grabs at important moments to make people forgot his mistakes. RB Tony Pollard is 4th in receiving yards for the Cowboys, and is always a threat out of the backfield or lined up wide.

Washington was missing William Jackson III(back) last week which led to some changes in the secondary. Benjamin St-Juste had been playing in the slot, but moved to the outside and had a pretty good game there. He defended multiple passes, and put himself in position to make game-changing plays. Head Coach Ron Rivera said they would discuss playing him on the outside more. Kendall Fuller has been having a pretty bad start to the season, getting burned often for big plays. Changes to the secondary with players like Fuller, Bobby McCain, and others shifting around could benefit the team as they face an inexperienced QB.

And please keep Rachad Wildgoose off the field...