The second week of the NFL season brings us a matchup between bitter NFC East rivals, as the Dallas Cowboys head to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Large portions of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Currently, the Cowboys are listed as 4.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 45.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of this week’s NFL betting odds.
After Ezekiel Elliott ended his holdout just a few days before the start of the season, the Cowboys were clicking on all cylinders against the Giants in Week 1. In truth, they didn’t need all that much from Elliott. Dak Prescott threw for over 400 yards in the 35-17 win. It was a dominant effort against the Giants, who have been known to get Dallas trouble at times.
The Cowboys are now hoping to keep it going against another NFC East rival this week. Believe it or not, Dallas has never reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons during Jason Garrett’s long tenure as head coach. But winning on Sunday and starting the season 2-0 would be a big step in the right direction toward making that happen.
Meanwhile, Washington wasn’t the disaster most people were expecting to see in Week 1. To the surprise of virtually everyone watching, the Redskins jumped out to a 17-0 lead in Philadelphia and led the Eagles 20-7 at the half. But it was all downhill from there. The Redskins were dominated in the second half, and despite beating the spread, they lost 32-27.
It doesn’t get much easier for Washington moving forward. Starting with the Cowboys in Week 2, three of their next four games are against teams that made the playoffs last year. The good news is that all three of those games are at home.
Despite a longstanding rivalry between these two teams, things have been a little one-sided in recent years. The Cowboys have won nine of the last 12 head-to-head meetings against the Redskins. On the bright side, Washington pulled off a 20-17 upset at home last year, so they’ll feel like they have a chance to beat Dallas again in front of their home fans.
We saw two different versions of the Redskins last week, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the team that blew a double-digit lead in the second half is closer to the real Redskins. Meanwhile, it was impossible not to be impressed with the Cowboys in Week 1. I know that anything can happen in a rivalry game, but I’ll eat the points and lean toward Dallas to win by at least a touchdown on the road.
As mentioned, the Dallas offense was humming last week. The thing that impressed me the most is that they didn’t rely on Elliott and the running game. They also didn’t need Dak Prescott to use his legs. It was Prescott doing damage from the pocket. Also, it’s not just Amari Cooper that can do damage. Michael Gallup had a big game in Week 1. Randall Cobb proved that he can still be a useful receiver. Plus, Jason Witten came out of retirement and scored a red-zone touchdown in his first game back. That’s a lot of weapons for the Cowboys outside of Elliott and Cooper.
On a related note, the Washington defense got worked in the second half against the Eagles. They didn’t do much to slow down Philadelphia’s trio of running backs, nor did they do anything to slow down Carson Wentz and the passing game. The Eagles scored 32 points despite a slow start to the game, so I shudder to think what the Dallas offense can accomplish if they’re clicking from the start.
To be fair, the Washington offense had their moments in the opener. Case Keenum threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over. There’s also a chance that Jordan Reed will return this week to give Keenum another good receiver. But the Redskins also got virtually nothing from their running game. On top of that, Derrius Guice is out for the foreseeable future, forcing the Redskins to go back to Adrian Peterson. Keenum hit on a couple of long passes early in last week’s game, but things dried up for the Washington offense when they couldn’t run the ball. I can foresee a similar problem this week against the Dallas defense.
Last week, the Redskins needed a garbage-time touchdown to avoid losing by double digits, and that was after dominating the first half. If the Cowboys can avoid a slow start, they should win this game going away. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t discount the Redskins making this a competitive game at home. But I can also see this game ending in a lopsided score. I’ll take my chances that Dallas can dominate and easily cover.