NFL Thanksgiving Day Football: Cowboys/Football Team Preview

by Big Al Staff

The traditional Thanksgiving Day game on Fox features the Dallas Cowboys hosting the Washington Football Team at 4:30 PM ET. First place is on the line, even with both these teams owning 3-7 records. The winner of this game will take a 1/2 game lead in the NFC East over Philadelphia with their 3-6-1 record heading into the games on Sunday.

Dallas snapped a four-game losing streak on Sunday with their 31-28 upset victory at Minnesota as a 7-point underdog. The Cowboys got their ground game going with the return to the Pro Bowl guard Zach Martin back onto the field as they rushed for 180 yards against the Vikings. The effective running game helped quarterback Andy Dalton complete 22 of 32 passes for 203 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Dalton is completing 63.2% of his passes for 655 yards but with just a 5.6 yards-per-attempt average. The veteran has passed for four touchdowns, but he has also thrown four interceptions.

The Cowboys are last in the NFL by allowing 31.8 points-per-game. Dallas has allowed 24 passing touchdowns, which is the most in the league. They have only accrued three interceptions. Their defense is allowing a touchdown pass once in every 13.5 pass attempts but only picking off a pass in every 108 throws. Dallas’ pass rush has not helped their cause as they are sacking the quarterback once in every 18 dropbacks. The Cowboys’ run defense has not been much better as they are second-to-last in the NFL by allowing 153.8 rushing yards-per-game. Dallas has improved in this area by holding their last three opponents to 96.7 rushing yards-per-game.

The Football Team snapped a two-game losing streak with a 20-9 victory against Cincinnati as a 2-point favorite last week. Quarterback Alex Smith completed 17 of 25 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. Smith is completing 68.2% of his passes for 918 yards in his four games (three starts) this season. He has only thrown two touchdown passes while getting picked off four times. Smith had thrown for 325 and 390 yards before his efficient performance against the Bengals last week.

The Washington defense produced four sacks with three hits on the quarterback (including the one that ended Joe Burrow’s season). The Football Team ha 32 sacks on the season, tied for third in the league. This pass rush has helped Washington own the stingiest pass defense in the NFL by holding their opponents to just 195 yards-per-game. The Football Team’s run defense has been another matter as they are allowing their opponents to average 138.8 yards-per-game, which is 27th.

Washington generated six sacks while compiling eight sacks on the quarterback in the first meeting between these two teams. They dominated that game in a 25-3 victory. Andy Dalton made his first start for the Cowboys in that game after Dak Prescott suffered his season-ending injury the week prior but got knocked out with a concussion.

Dallas will not have the services of starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins along with tight end Blake Jarwin and Prescott, who have all suffered season-ending injuries. Placekicker Greg Zuerlein is questionable with his back injury.

Washington has lost strong safety to a season-ending Achilles’ injury along with quarterback Kyle Allen which created the opportunity for Smith under center. The Football Team has four starters listed as questionable: left tackle Cornelius Lucas III (ankle); wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle); running back Antonio Gibson (ankle); placekicker Dustin Hopkins (groin).

The Cowboys will be playing this game with a heavy heart with the sudden passing of their longtime strength and conditioning coach on Wednesday. The 54-year old was rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning for a medical emergency.

BetOnline lists Dallas as a 3-point favorite with the total set at 46.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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