Who says you can’t find a franchise quarterback in the fourth round of the NFL Draft? The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys both have found one in that round, and Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott, respectively, will face off for the second time this season on Thanksgiving Thursday’s middle game in Dallas. If Washington has any shot to repeat as NFC East champion, it has to win this one, but the Cowboys are solid favourites on Sports Interaction NFL odds.
NFL Thanksgiving: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Point spread: Cowboys -7
Date: Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov. 24, 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Washington (6-3-1) are currently third in the division they surprisingly won a season ago. If they playoffs started today they’d be the NFC’s final wild-card team. The division-rival New York Giants (7-3) would be the other wild card.
Washington has just one loss (and a tie) in its past eight games. It impressively beat visiting Green Bay 42-24 on Sunday. Cousins, the 102nd pick of the 2012 draft from Michigan State, had his best game of the season in throwing for 375 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against an injury-depleted Packers defense. Cousins had a breakout season in 2015, but they wanted to see him prove it again before giving him a huge long-term deal so they slapped the franchise tag on Cousins. He’s going to cash in big this offseason as Cousins is third in the NFL in passing yards (3,091).
They also appear to have found their breakout star of 2016 and that’s undrafted rookie free-agent running back Robert Kelley. Buried on the depth chart early in the season, Kelley has emerged as the clear No. 1 guy in the backfield. He rushed 24 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers, his third straight game with at least 87 yards.
Receiver DeSean Jackson returned from a one-game injury absence vs. the Pack with four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. But Washington remains without one of the best left tackles in the NFL, Trent Williams, as he’s serving a four-game suspension.
Coach Jay Gruden has been outspoken this week that the NFL schedule is stacked against Washington with this really quick turnaround game after having to play Sunday night against the Packers. That game didn’t end until around midnight ET. The Cowboys played at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday and obviously don’t have to travel. Washington is 7-3 ATS this season and 8-2 over/under.
The Cowboys (9-1) have the best record in football and have won nine consecutive games, the longest single-season winning streak in franchise history. They are now the +200 favourites to win the NFC title and -625 to take the NFC East. A win here would give Dallas the tiebreaker over Washington, but it currently doesn’t hold that against the second-place Giants, as they are the only team to beat the Cowboys. Those two play Sunday night in New Jersey in Week 14.
This past Sunday, Dallas beat visiting Baltimore 27-17. Prescott, the 135th overall pick out of Mississippi State in this year’s draft, had another stellar game in completing 75 percent of his passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards and multiple TDs with no interceptions in consecutive games. His QB rating of 108.6 is third in the NFL.
Prescott would be an easy choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in any other season, but he’s not even the favourite on his own team. That’s running back Ezekiel Elliott. He rushed for 97 yards against Baltimore and leads the league with 1,102 yards on the ground. That’s the third-most in league history in a player’s first 10 games.
As if the Cowboys need another weapon, receiver Dez Bryant is really coming on. He had six catches for 80 yards and two scores against the Ravens. Dallas has put up at least 400 yards of offense in eight straight games, tied for the NFL record for the longest single-season streak.
The only weakness I see would be that Dallas defense, but it has been overachieving in ranking 13th in yards per game (347.9) and fifth in scoring (18.7 ppg). That unit remains without top cornerback Morris Claiborne due to a groin injury, but he might be back in a few weeks. Dallas is 9-1 ATS this season and 4-6 over/under.
Redskins vs. Cowboys Prediction
These teams played Week 2 at Washington and the Cowboys won 27-23, Prescott’s first NFL victory. Cousins was largely to blame for that loss. The Redskins were up 23-20 with a little over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Cousins forced a pass into the Dallas end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the 6. It was picked off, and Dallas would march down the field on the following possession for the winning touchdown. Prescott didn’t throw for a TD but ran for one. So did Elliott. Cousins threw for 364 yards and a TD. Kelley didn’t see the field that day. I like Dallas here but not right on that potential push number of 7. Give 6.5 points at -128 and go over the total.
For more Thanksgiving Thursday football coverage, check out our detailed previews and predictions for the Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game and our coverage of the Detroit Lions vs. the Minnesota Vikings point spread and predictions.