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Washington Commanders vs the Dallas Cowboys Week 12: 5 Questions with Blogging the Boys

Dallas Cowboys v Carolina Panthers Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images

Washington and Dallas are two old rivals going in different directions. Washington (4-7) has had only five winning seasons in this century, and none since 2016; it now struggles to win even against the worst teams in the NFL. Dallas is once again a contender in the NFC (7-3 this season). Can Washington pull off a Thanksgiving upset, as they have on some occasions in the past?

I asked David Halprin of Blogging the Boys some questions to see how the Cowboys are doing and how he sees this game.

1) I have been an avid Washington fan since 1964. The rivalry with the Cowboys has never faded for our fans since then. If Washington fans have a choice between winning a wild card slot and beating the Cowboys twice, most probably would go for beating the Cowboys twice. However, the Cowboys have been the better team for most of the past 25 years. Has the rivalry with Washington faded for Cowboys fans, or does it remain as intense?

It has definitely faded for Cowboys fans, especially for younger fans. I, too, come from the older school of football fandom and was raised to hate Washington with a vengeance. But it’s not that way anymore for me, and surveys we’ve done show it’s not that way for most of the fans. The rivalry now that burns for Cowboys fans is the Eagles. The Cowboys and the Eagles have done a lot of scrapping over who runs the NFC East, and there was the whole period of Jimmy Johnson versus Buddy Ryan and the Bounty Bowl that really stoked things. We still want to beat Washington more than most teams, but the passion around it is not comparable to the passion around the Eagles. And if you asked me if I wanted to beat Philly, or Washington, twice in a season or get a wild card spot, I would always take the playoffs!

Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

2) The Cowboys have played well on both offense and defense this year and are among the league leaders in most categories of team play on both sides of the ball. Their roster is loaded with stars. Yet they have lost 3 games. Is there any common denominator that explains the losses? What is their kryptonite?

The only thing the losses truly have in common is they all happened on the road. I wish we could find a common denominator among their play when they lose so that we could fix it, but the losses have had different flavors and don’t seem to boil down to one thing. Losing to the Cardinals was just a matter of taking a team too lightly and playing undisciplined football. We were over-aggressive on defense that led to some long runs and other plays that took advantage of gaps. Plus, we have this weird thing going now where we have lost to the Cardinals in seven of the last eight games.

The 49ers game was just a beatdown all around. The 49ers brand of physical football and unique scheme just befuddles the Cowboys. This game was the most upsetting so far because we have been building our team to beat them, and the gap has seemingly gotten larger. The Eagles game was just a good entertaining game where we totally blew it on the last drive in the redzone. We do have an issue with penalties sometimes, but it hasn’t been as bad this year as in the past. I guess just not playing up to our potential sometimes is our kryptonite.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

3) I’m sure Cowboys fans get tired of hearing about the team’s failure to win more than one playoff game since their last Super Bowl win almost 30 years ago. Is this the roster and coaching staff that will get them over the hump? How confident are Cowboys fans that this year will be different?

I’m not sure if you mean win more than one playoff game in a particular year’s playoffs but the Cowboys have five playoff wins since their last Super Bowl. Personally it is always a wait and see now with the Cowboys. We have had so many seasons where we look like serious contenders, only to fold late in the season or when the playoffs arrive. It is impossible to tell how Dallas will perform late in the year or in the playoffs so I’ve quit trying. I think most fans now take the approach of being a little pessimistic and hope to be surprised if things are different. So I don’t have any more confidence that this roster, or this coaching staff, will be the ones to get us back to the Super Bowl than I do any other in recent memory.

NFL: Super Bowl XXVIII RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

4) Even a roster that includes many Pro Bowl players usually has some key players that fly under the media radar. Who are two or three of the lesser known Cowboys who could have a big impact on the game?

Markquese Bell and Damone Clark are now the Cowboys starting linebackers and they have been surprisingly good in spite of where they came from. Bell is a second-year UDFA safety that was converted to linebacker before the start of the season and does really well in the mix despite being very undersized for an NFL linebacker. Damone Clark dropped to the fifth round of last year’s draft because of a severe spinal issue that needed surgery. His comeback from that has been remarkable and the two, he and Bell, have done a good job in the middle of the defense. On offense, tight end Jake Ferguson has made a real jump in his second year. He is a security blanket for Dak Prescott and has scored four touchdowns so far and has very reliable hands, as well as being a solid blocker in the run game.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

5) On paper, there is no reason to believe that Dallas will win and cover the 11-point spread. But rivalries like this can have surprising results. Who do you think will win, and what do you think will be the final margin of victory?

The Cowboys are just a different team at home lately. They have won 12 games in a row at AT&T Stadium and their offense is electric there. In 2023, Dallas has yet to score under 30 points at home and have two games where they scored over 40 points. Dak Prescott and company excel in that building and they will probably score a fair amount of points in this one. If I was betting on this I would absolutely take the Cowboys straight up, and would be tempted to also take them to cover the spread. But with this being a short week and an NFC East game, things could get a little weird, so take the Cowboys for a 10-point victory, just missing the covering the spread.

Thanks again to David Halperin for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Cowboys. You can check out his answers to our questions over at Blogging the Boys.