By Shawn Lealos
Football is an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys played on Thanksgiving for the first time in 1970, and have played on the holiday every year since, with the exception of 1975 and 1977. In Thanksgiving Day games, Dallas has a .615 record and will put that on the line against their most hated division rival, the Washington Redskins, who the Cowboys have feuded with since their debut season in 1960. Here is a look at the Washington Redskins team profile heading into this big holiday game.
In Week 11, the Washington Redskins surprised many people when they beat the Green Bay Packers to extend their record for the season to 6-3-1. The Redskins currently sit in third place in the NFC East and have a 2-1 division record; their only division loss was to the Cowboys in Week 2. Washington knows they need a win here to stay in the race for both the NFC East and the wildcard playoff race.
Washington Redskins On Offense
As it seems to happen every year in Washington, a new running back has turned heads. The Redskins have a new star in the backfield on offense in Robert Kelley, an undrafted rookie running back from Tulane. The team’s official starter is Matt Jones, but he’s out with an injury and Kelley has really stepped up. He has run for 321 yards in three starts, and had three rushing touchdowns against Green Bay.
Kirk Cousins is still the starting quarterback after accepting the franchise tag prior to the season and is trying to prove he’s a superstar rather than a game manager on the Redskins offense. After 10 games, Cousins ranks in the top 10 with a 98.8 QBR—which is very good. He is one of only three quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards so far this season. Cousins has thrown seven interceptions but also has 17 touchdown passes.
One big positive this year is that Cousins has a lot of targets for a change. There are two wide receivers and one tight end with over 40 receptions in Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, and Jordan Reed. Also on the team is the always explosive DeSean Jackson, right behind them with 34 catches. Keeping these receivers healthy always makes Washington a threat.
Washington Redskins On Defense
The one thing that is holding the Washington Redskins back this season is their defense. They rank 23rd overall in total defense on the year, sitting at 19th against the pass and 23rd against the run. With Ezekiel Elliott coming up, they will have their hands full and the Cowboys have proven they can dominate the clock when a team can’t stop their running game. The Redskins did a great job in stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week, but Green Bay can’t run the ball and that could be the difference when facing the Cowboys.
Washington Redskins Players To Watch
Kirk Cousins– When the two teams played in Week 2, Dak Prescott was still trying to find his feet. That made the game a close one because he had to match up to Cousins, who threw for 364 yards in the game. It wasn’t until Dallas intercepted Cousins late in the game that they were able to win. Dallas has to limit what Cousins does this week, but he is good enough to beat them if they can’t control the clock.
Trent Murphy – In the Week 2 game between the Cowboys and Redskins, Trent Murphy sacked Dak Prescott twice with three quarterback hits and four tackles for a loss. That is what Washington needs to accomplish on defense if they want to stop the Cowboys this week.
The Dallas Cowboys have won nine games in a row, and that all started with a win over the Washington Redskins in Week 2. Both teams are playing well, and they both look like playoff teams, but the Cowboys seem almost unbeatable right now. This should be a Cowboys win on Thanksgiving Day, but as long-time fans know, the Redskins can beat Dallas no matter how good either team is in any given year.