Football Team

Don't expect a repeat of Washington's Week 7 blowout vs. Dallas

Football Team

The Washington Football Team's best effort of the 2020 season thus far came in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys, where they dominated on both sides of the ball for a 25-3 blowout victory.

One month and a day later, the NFC East rivals clash once again on Thanksgiving, with first place in the division at stake. 

And while Washington took care of business at home against Dallas earlier this season, expect its path to a victory to be much tougher come Thursday afternoon in JerryWorld.

Dallas is a different team than it was one month ago. The 'Boys are coming off their first victory since Dak Prescott went down with a season-ending injury, an impressive road victory over the Minnesota Vikings -- who entered Sunday's game winners of three straight.

In that victory over Minnesota, star running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries, marking the first time he's topped the century mark this season. Elliott was a non-factor in the matchup against Washington in Week 7, finishing with just 45 yards on 12 carries.

Elliott reverting to his vintage form comes at a brutal time for Washington.

The running back has faced the Burgundy and Gold eight times in his career, with the Cowboys winning six of them. In the six victories, No. 21 has averaged 114 yards per game on the ground with four 100-plus-yard performances. He's also found the end zone at least once in every Dallas victory over Washington since 2016.

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In each of Washington's two wins over Dallas since Elliott entered the league, the running back has been a non-factor. In those two contests, Elliott notched 33 and 45 rushing yards, respectively, and did not score in either matchup.

Washington will need to keep Elliott in check once again on Thursday, and the Burgundy and Gold have struggled to stop the run as of late. To their credit, they didn't allow Cincinnati to muster much on the ground this past weekend, but both the Lions and Giants had success running the ball the two weeks prior.

While Elliott looked back as his old self versus Minnesota, so did Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton. The veteran signal-caller threw for three touchdowns in his first game back from a concussion and the COVID-19 list in his best game of the season for Dallas.

Dalton was unimpressive in Week 7 against Washington before getting knocked out of the game with a concussion, but it was just his second start in a new offense. He looked much more in control this past week, showing why Dallas originally brought him in to be Prescott's backup.

It's not just Dallas' performance against Minnesota that shows it's been playing a lot more inspired football as of late. Two weeks earlier, the Cowboys -- led by Garrett Gilbert at quarterback -- went toe-to-toe with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers literally to the final play. 

Simply put, the Cowboys look like a different team than they were a month ago. And with the division title as much in reach for them as anyone else in the NFC East, you have to figure the message in the Big D right now is 'Why not us?'

Dallas has had Washington's number on Thanksgiving, too. Historically, the Cowboys are 8-1 against their NFC East rival on Turkey Day and have won the last three contests between the two on the holiday. Washington's lone Thanksgiving victory over Dallas came in 2012 behind a four-TD performance from Robert Griffin III.

The Cowboys enter Thursday's game as three-point favorites, per PointsBet USA, and it makes sense. Washington might have blown out Dallas earlier this season, but a close game this time around is a lot more likely.

Buckle up.