We need to start with a thank you to A to Z Nashville. After the Titans win over the 49ers on Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys are in the playoffs for the 1st time since 2018!
Next up, the NFC East title.
With 3 games left, the Cowboys will face the Washington (???) for the 2nd time in 14 days. Not much has changed since the last time these 2 played, but who could be available will have plenty of variance on how this will end up.
Washington has a number of key players back for this game, but will be without many others. Despite the return of QB Taylor Henickie and DE Montez Sweat, defensive backs Landon Collins and William Jackson are both out with injuries. On top of that, starting running back Antonio Gibson hasn’t practiced all week and is listed as Questionable.
There are many similar things to win this game as before, but no team’s run the same game plan twice. This time around, expect more of the same from the defense, and hopefully a return to form from the offense.
Create Pressure on the Passing Game
Same as before. Taylor Heinicke is a much different QB under pressure than he is with a clean pocket. Under pressure, he’s 20% less likely to complete passes, and when blitzed by less than 5 defenders, is more likely to get sacked.
— Dallas Cowboys Collaboration (@mailman_phil) December 25, 2021
Washington got reinforcements with the return of starting right tackle Sam Cosmi, but struggled against the Eagles pass rush upon return. The entire offensive line has taken an even bigger hit with Brandon Scherff still on the Reserve/COIVD list.
Whether it’s Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory or pressure from inside, this pass rush will get in the backfield.
Continue to Run the Ball
The Dallas Cowboys continue to run the ball well as a team, despite not having a 100-yard rusher since week 5. Despite that, Dallas has rushed for over 100 yards in each game of their 3-game win streak, including 122 yards against this same Football Team.
On the other side, the Washington defense has allowed 403 rushing yards in their last 2 games. Both against NFC East opponents.
While Dak Prescott and the passing attack continue to fix their issues, the running game is looking much more to how it looked earlier in the season. While not as dominant, moving the ball on the ground effectively continues to put the Cowboys in scoring position, and take them away from opposing offenses.
Washington Wil Take Shots Downfield
When Washington lost Terry MacLaurin in their first meeting, the offense was forced to take shots, including an impressive catch by Cam Sims.
CAM SIMS JUST MOSSED TREVON DIGGS 😳pic.twitter.com/YPgVet13TE
— PFF (@PFF) December 12, 2021
The Dallas Cowboys defense has played coverage well this season against the short game. This has forced teams to throw passes 10+ yards down the field. As a result, it has created more opportunities to force turnovers.
Dallas leads the league in interceptions and turnover differential. Forcing the Washington offense to throw it deep will likely widen the gap between themselves and the offense in the turnover vs touchdown bet.
Be More Creative in the Passing Game
Last week the Cowboys passing offense looked better in areas. Dak didn’t force passes where they didn’t need to go and had his most accurate game since the Atlanta game.
A good sign is that the struggles he’s having with the wide receivers is taken seriously. They’re all putting in extra work to correct the mishaps.
From @NFLGameDay: #Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has been spending extra time individually with his WRs to work on timing and communication for an offense that looks primed to break out (again). pic.twitter.com/sWhnrymcp0
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 26, 2021
Dak Prescott is one of the more accurate QBs in the game, so seeing him struggle has been odd. Whether it’s forcing passes into double coverages, receivers not catching passes or the game speeding up, the passing game hasn’t been itself like it had.
A similar game plan of easy passes will create mismatches down the field. Amari Cooper might be frustrated with the lack creativity in down-field plays, but this will need to do for the passing game to return in time for the playoffs.
As the passing game progresses, so will the big plays. The offense will return to normalcy. Possibly even versus Washington.