It’s Week 18 of the NFL season and the 7-8-1 Washington Commanders will be facing a 12-4 Cowboys team in Raljon.
Much to the head coach’s surprise, Washington was eliminated from the playoffs last week. With nothing but pride to play for, Coach Rivera decided to give rookie Sam Howell his first start of the season. The Cowboys, alternatively, still have a tremendous amount riding on this game, including the possibility of winning the NFC East, and even a chance to get the first seed in the NFC, which would earn them a Wild Card round bye.
I asked David Halprin of Blogging the Boys five questions about the state of the Cowboys and what to look for in this game.
1) How seriously do you expect the Cowboys to take this game? Do you think there’s a chance that they sit any of their starters?
I think the Cowboys will go all out to win with an almost zero chance of resting players, at least to start the game. The Cowboys still have something to play for in winning the NFC East, and even if it seems unlikely they will get there, they have to try. They also have a very outside chance at the top seed in the NFC so they have to go for it. If they didn’t, and then it turned out they could have gotten either of those goals but lost after resting players, it would be a nightmare. Now if the help they need seems out of reach by the second half, they could start pulling players.
2) If you could have one player on Washington’s roster playing for the Cowboys, who would it be and why?
I’ll cheat and take either of the duo of Jonathan Allen or DaRon Payne. The Cowboys could use a more active presence in the middle of their defensive line and they check the box.
3) The Cowboys defense has been very good in terms of points allowed this year, and a little less so in terms of yards allowed per game. What would you say is their biggest defensive weakness?
Playing the run has been their problem most of the year. They prioritize getting to the passer so they run stunts and move guys around and that can sometimes leave them out of position against the run. So teams have taken advantage of their run defense to move the ball effectively. Having said that, the Cowboy suffered injuries to two of their starting cornerbacks, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown, and that has been an issue. DaRon Bland has done a bang up job filling in, but the other corner spot has been more troublesome. Nahshon Wright seems to be the guy, but he is still suspect.
4) Do you think there’s a chance that the Cowboys look to try to attract Sean Payton as head coach this offseason? In the past, there’s been a lot of smoke suggesting that he was a favorite of Jerry Jones.
It all depends on what happens in the playoffs. If the Cowboys flame out again in the first round, I think that there is a pretty good possibility Jerry starts looking around. But if the Cowboys can get on a playoff run, they will likely stick with Mike McCarthy. And yes, ever since Payton was an assistant coach at Dallas before leaving for the Saints, there has been a feeling that he was the one that got away. So there would definitely be interest from Jerry if he decides to go with a new coach.
5) What are you expecting the final score of the game to be this week? DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under set at 40. How many points do you expect to be scored overall?
I think the Cowboys will win this game since they have something to play for, and the Commanders look to be protecting veterans and evaluating young guys. Dallas wins 27-10, so the game will not hit the over.
Thanks again to David for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Cowboys.
As of right now, Vegas has Dallas as 7 point favorites over Washington. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Dallas wins by 8 points of more.
Dallas wins by 7 points or less, or it’s a tie.
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 40 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
41 or more total points are scored.
39 or fewer total points are scored.