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Washington Vs. Cowboys Preview: A Turkey Day Rumble In Texas

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Dallas Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson (37) and cornerback Trevon Diggs (27) fail to stop Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) from scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

After taking down the Cincinnati Bengals, the Washington Football Team (3-7) will travel to AT&T Stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys (3-7) for first place in the NFC East. Here's everything you need to know ahead of the Thanksgiving Day matchup.

GAMEDAY INFORMATION:

Date: Nov. 26

Time 4:30 p.m. ET

Location: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)

WATCH: FOX

  • Joe Buck (play-by-play)
  • Troy Aikman (analyst)
  • Kristina Pink (sideline reporter)
  • Erin Andrews (sideline reporter)

LISTEN: The Team 980, ESPN 630 and WMAL 105.9

  • Julie Donaldson (host)
  • Bram Weinstein (play-by-play)
  • DeAngelo Hall (analyst)

A stream of the radio broadcast will also be available at WashingtonFootball.com and on select Washington Football Team social media platforms.

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Washington has played on Thanksgiving 11 times and are 3-8 in such games.
  • Washington's first Thanksgiving game was against the Cowboys in 1968, which ended in a 29-20 loss.
  • Washington has played the Cowboys more than any other opponent on Thanksgiving (9) and are 1-8 against them. The only win came in 2012 when Washington held on for a 38-31 victory.
  • Four of Washington's Thanksgiving games against the Cowboys have been decided by seven points or fewer.

COACHING STAFF

Washington:

  • Head coach Ron Rivera (1st season in Washington)
  • Offensive coordinator Scott Turner (1st)
  • Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (1st)
  • Special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor (2nd)

Dallas:

  • Head coach Mike McCarthy (1st season in Dallas)
  • Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore (3rd; 2nd as offensive coordinator)
  • Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan (1st)
  • Special teams coordinator John Fassel (1st)

BIGGEST STORYLINES

-- Battle for first place: The NFC East has been historically bad this season, so Washington and Dallas are within striking distance of taking first place with a win on Thanksgiving after both getting wins in Week 11.

In terms of which team has more momentum ahead of Thursday's game, it would appear that Washington has a slight advantage. The team is 2-2 in the past four games, including a 25-3 win over the Cowboys in Week 7. What's more, its two losses have come by a combined six points.

Dallas managed to stave off a comeback from the Minnesota Vikings, but that win came after a four-game losing streak against Washington, the Arizona Cardinals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dallas should have some confidence, though, after it managed to stay competitive with the Steelers in a 24-19 loss.

Head coach Ron Rivera and his players are aware of the implications surrounding the game, and a win would give the team a boost before going against tough opponents like the Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

"The biggest thing we've got to do is really focus in on the 'one game at a time' mentality. That's what we'll do, and we'll see what happens. Again, I look forward to it on Thursday. I look forward to the opportunity to see where we are."

-- Washington's offense is showing improvement: Washington entered its first matchup with the Cowboys ranked last in total offense, but it erupted with 397 yards, including 208 yards on the ground. Since then, Washington has averaged 397 yards per game, pushing it up four spots to 28th.

What's more impressive was that in its next two games, Washington improved on those numbers with 402 yards against the New York Giants and 464 yard against the Detroit Lions. In those games, Alex Smith had back-to-back 300-yard outings for the first time in his career and led the league with 715 passing yards.

Washington's production dipped with 325 yards against the Bengals, but it found the balance it had been searching for in the past two games when it was down double digits in the first half. In addition to Smith's 166 passing yards, Washington rushed the ball 34 times for 164 yards, led by Antonio Gibson's 94 on 16 carries. In addition to Smith and Washington's skill players showing growth, Rivera believes offensive coordinator Scott Turner is showing progress as a play caller.

"Well, the biggest thing is I see a few more things than the stuff we did in Carolina," Rivera said. "That just shows that he's opening the playbook. I think that, obviously, when you prepare the game for a specific quarterback, it's what they do best with the things that they're capable of doing. I think that sometimes it's about the guys around you and the way they've developed. I mean, if you look at the way the receiving corps is getting better and better and stronger and stronger, you see the way the running game is coming together, it's pretty exciting."

-- Washington's pass rush will face a healthier offensive line: Washington benefitted from a banged up Cowboys offensive line. Team sack leader Montez Sweat and the rest of Washington's pass rush feasted on Dallas' quarterbacks with six sacks resulting in a loss of 49 yards. As a result, the Cowboys managed just 59 yards passing.

Washington is tied for third in the NFL with 32 sacks, but Dallas' offensive line will be healthier with six-time Pro Bowler Zack Martin returning and playing right tackle. In Martin's first game at the position against the Minnesota Vikings, he allowed zero pressures for just the third time all season. Martin has also allowed only one sack all year.

Washington has been on a bit of a roll lately, as half of its sacks have come in the past four games. If it wants to continue that trend, it will need to rise to the challenge of finding a way around Martin, who has given up just eight sacks in his career.

INDIVIDUAL STATS LEADERS

Washington:

  • Passing Yards -- QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. (939)
  • Passing TDs -- QBs Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Kyle Allen (4)
  • Rushing Yards -- RB Antonio Gibson (530)
  • Rushing TDs -- RB Antonio Gibson (8)
  • Receiving Yards -- WR Terry McLaurin (871)
  • Receiving TDs -- TE Logan Thomas and WR Terry McLaurin (3)
  • Tackles -- LB Jon Bostic (69)
  • Sacks -- DE Montez Sweat (6.0)
  • Interceptions -- CB Kendall Fuller (4)

Dallas:

  • Passing Yards -- QB Dak Prescott (1,856)
  • Passing TDs -- QB Dak Prescott (9)
  • Rushing Yards -- RB Ezekiel Elliott (675)
  • Rushing TDs -- RB Ezekiel Elliott (5)
  • Receiving Yards -- WR Amari Cooper (736)
  • Receiving TDs -- WR CeeDee Lamb (13)
  • Tackles -- LB Jaylon Smith (96)
  • Sacks -- DE Aldon Smith (5.0)
  • Interceptions -- CB Trevon Diggs (2)

TEAM STATS LEADERS

Washington:

  • Total offense -- 28th (324.0 YPG)
  • Scoring offense -- 29th (20.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense -- 24th (224.9 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed -- 29th (32)
  • Rushing offense -- 24th (99.1 YPG)
  • Third-down offense -- 26th (38.4%)
  • Total defense -- 6th (315.8 YPG)
  • Scoring defense -- 9th (22.7 PPG)
  • Passing defense -- 1st (195.4 YPG)
  • Sacks -- 5T-3h (32)
  • Rushing defense -- 18th (120.4 YPG)
  • Third-down defense -- 9th (38.6%)
  • Time of possession -- 18yh (29:41)
  • Turnover differential -- T-28th (-6)

Dallas:

  • Total offense -- 6th (393.1 YPG)
  • Scoring offense -- T-20nd (23.5 PPG)
  • Passing offense -- 7th (276.1 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed -- T-23rd (27)
  • Rushing offense -- 13th (117.0 YPG)
  • Third-down offense -- 20th (41.2%)
  • Total defense -- 24th (386.4 YPG)
  • Scoring defense -- 32nd (31.8 PPG)
  • Passing defense -- 14th (232.6 YPG)
  • Sacks -- T-19th (19)
  • Rushing defense -- 31th (153.8 YPG)
  • Third-down defense -- 29th (49.2%)
  • Time of possession -- 27th (28:22)
  • Turnover differential -- 31st (-12)

INJURY REPORT

Check out the injury report for Washington's Week 12 game against the Dallas Cowboys, HERE.

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