Week 14 features the first of five NFC East games to round out the regular season for the Washington Football Team, starting with a home matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys enter this contest holding the top spot in the division with an 8-4 record. Dallas is coming off a 27-17 Thursday Night victory over the New Orleans Saints. The New Orleans offense produced more yards and won the time of possession battle. However, the Cowboys capitalized on four Saints turnovers to take the win.
Washington has found a rhythm amidst a four-game win streak, the most recent victory coming against the Las Vegas Raiders. However, it will face a Dallas defense known for creating turnovers. Meanwhile, the Washington defense line will look to contain quarterback Dak Prescott and Dallas running backs.
Here's what you need to know about the Cowboys:
1. Dallas owns the top-ranked offense
The Cowboys' offense is arguably the strongest in the league. Both the run and pass game rank in the top 10 in yards per game – sixth and fourth, respectively. Additionally, Dallas holds the top spot in total yards per game averaging 416.3. On top of that, the unit ranks second in points per game with 29.4. The Dallas offense contains a plethora of offensive talent. With CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper all healthy, limiting explosive plays will be a challenge for Washington.
2. Dak Prescott is playing at a high level.
The Dallas quarterback has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season. Prescott has thrown for 3,170 yards and 23 touchdowns, has a top five completion rate with 69.% and thrown for an average 288.2 yards per game. It's been a benefit to his top targets -- Lamb and Cooper. Lamb leads all Cowboys receivers with 829 yards and six touchdowns, while Cooper tacks on another 624 yards and five touchdowns this season. Prescott and the Dallas receiving core have put up some big numbers this season. The Cowboys rank fourth in the league with 287.3 yards per game. The Washington secondary has recently turned things around, though, and is giving up 218 yards per game since the bye week.
3. A one-two punch at running back.
The Cowboys feature a solid running back duo in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Elliott has 765 yards and eight touchdowns, ranking him eighth among all running backs. Elliott has been dealing with a knee injury throughout the season but having Pollard in the backfield has been a nice backup option. Pollard isn't too far behind with 602 yards and two touchdowns on the season, which has helped Dallas average 129.0 rushing yards per game but will face a strong Washington rush defense. Washington enters this game third in the league, allowing 91.3 yards per game, so establishing dominance on the ground will be a challenge for both teams.
4. A shining positive for a struggling Dallas defense.
The Dallas defense has struggled this season, ranking 27th in the league with 372.5 yards per game. Where the Cowboys have had the most trouble is defending against the pass. The strength for the defense, however, has been its ability to produce turnovers. The Cowboys are amongst the top in the league with 19 interceptions. The unit is led by cornerback Trevon Diggs, leads the league with nine of picks, two of which have gone back for touchdowns.
Additionally, cornerback Anthony Brown has seen success in the secondary with 13 passes defended and two interceptions. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has been accurate through Washington's four game win streak recording a completion percentage of 72% or higher in each of those games -- the longest active streak in the NFL A major key for the Washington offense will be to continue playing mistake-free football, keeping Dallas' explosive offense off the field.