The Washington Football Team picked up a much-needed win over the Dallas Cowboys and looked like the better team in the process. In one month, the teams will meet again on Thanksgiving. Based on how the season has gone so far, the Week 12 matchup should still have major implications for the NFC East.
It would be easy to look at Dallas' recent stretch of porous performances and the injury to Andy Dalton and conclude that Washington should have no problem beating the Cowboys once again. Yet if the NFL -- especially in 2020 -- has shown us anything, it's that nothing is guaranteed and things can change rapidly.
In the next four weeks, plenty can happen for Dallas that will make the holiday matchup look different than what was seen in October. Here are a few factors to consider:
Players returning from injury
Dallas entered Week 7 decimated with injuries, especially on the offensive line. Neither side of the ball had the ability to do much right, but some big names could be back in action in the coming weeks. Sean Lee, a leader on the defense, is expected to return as early as Week 8 giving the Cowboys a much-needed steady tackler in the middle of the field. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is slated to come off Injured Reserve soon as well, and the secondary needs as much help as it can get.
On the offensive side of the ball, guard Zach Martin was missing in action due to a concussion. While he needs to pass protocol before returning, he has a month to do so in order to play against Washington. The offensive line as a whole needs help, but Martin is a major piece of the puzzle.
The Cowboys need better play all-around, but the return of some important names will make things different on Thanksgiving.
Trade Deadline Reinforcements
It's no guarantee that Dallas will buy at the deadline next week, but if the team truly believes it still has a chance in the division, they should be doing just that. Almost every position on the field other than running back and wide receiver could use an upgrade, so there are a plethora of players on the marker for the team to evaluate.
Team owner Jerry Jones has remained optimistic despite all the struggles, and that means Washington could be facing off with some new additions come Week 12.
A New QB?
Speaking of new additions, this would be the biggest so it gets its own section.
The timetable for Andy Dalton's return after he took a scary hit on Sunday is unclear, but even if he does come back soon, Dallas still needs to evaluate the position. When he was on the field against Washington, Dalton didn't look good. Even with all the weapons the Cowboys have, the offense was predictable, inefficient and sloppy. The veteran was 9-for-19 for 75 yards and an interception.
That won't get the job done, and backup Ben DiNiucci probably won't either. Like everyone else in the NFC East, Dallas isn't out of it yet. But in order to stay in the hunt, they'll need way more out of the man under center. With the trade deadline approaching, maybe Dallas looks for another option. Ryan Fitzpatrick seems pretty enticing, or maybe Dwayne Haskins?
Okay, the second one seems very out there, but still, Dallas trying something else at quarterback shouldn't be out of the equation moving forward.
In a month, Dallas will still be similar to the team that took the field in Week 7. Dak Prescott will still be gone and we'll all be watching what Mike McCarthy's status is with the team after reports last week that his hold on the team was shaky, but there should also be moves that will point them in a better direction considering a division title is still in reach and the team is dealing with numerous injuries.
Maybe the Cowboys implode even more, but it's too early to tell. Like always, the NFL changes on a week-to-week basis.