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Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Commanders Preview: 3 matchups to watch

The Washington Commanders host the Dallas Cowboys

Washington Commanders v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Washington Commanders lost to the Cleveland Browns 24-10 and they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Their season is over, but they still technically have to play the last game vs the Dallas Cowboys. Head Coach Ron Rivera said they were playing to win, but he’s also shutting down a lot of starters and starting rookie QB Sam Howell for the first time. He’s made it clear that he wants to see some of the younger players on the teams who haven’t gotten opportunities this season like Howell, 7th round rookie guard Chris Paul, practice squad DT Benning Potoa’e, and others.

Washington will host the Cowboys, who are playing for a chance to win the NFC East and potentially get the #1 seed in the NFC. Dallas is favored by a touchdown, and unless they sit their starters in the 2nd half, this game could get very ugly. You can check out the odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Matchup 1: Protect Sam Howell

Rookie QB Sam Howell is getting the start vs the Cowboys, after Ron Rivera originally wanted to go back to Taylor Heinicke. Fans reacted pretty swiftly against that decision, and then Heinicke reportedly told Rivera to give the start to the rook because he earned his shot. Howell is not stepping into a good situation, and will basically be leading a preseason team vs a playoff team. Rivera said Scott Turner was tailoring a gameplan to match Howell’s skillset. Washington is missing a few offensive linemen, and plans on playing a rookie guard who’s never played an NFL snap at some point. Turner will need to help his young QB by having extra protection on the line against Dallas’s aggressive pass rush. A quick passing attack, and using whatever running backs are left on the roster to try to keep Sam Howell upright as he goes into the offseason.

Matchup 2: Avoid injuries

Washington is going to have to play some of its starters for at least parts of the game. They’ve already shut down almost 20% of the team due to injuries or just ruling them out this week. Starters like Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and others have some personal achievements they could be playing for this week, but there are plenty of other young wideouts who will get some playing time in this meaningless game.

Matchup 3: Enjoy the whiteout

The Washington Commanders will be playing in their all white jersey combination, and they are sure to see a lot of fans wearing all white in the stands. The problem with that is it will mostly be Cowboys fans wearing their colors as they take over FedEx Field again for another late season game that is meaningless for Washington. Dan Snyder has taken a team that was #1 in attendance the year after he bought the team, to dead last in the NFL this year. He is reportedly in the process of selling the team, and this should be his last game as an owner. The sight of his stadium once again filled with opposing fans is all you need to know about his disastrous two plus decades of ownership. I’ll be looking for the few Washington fans in attendance and hoping to see some Sell the Team shirts and signs.