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Washington Vs. Cowboys Preview: Dallas' High-Powered Offense Comes To FedExField

Jimmy Moreland (32) lines up against Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup in Week 2 of the 2019 season. Garrett Campbell/Washington Football Team)
Jimmy Moreland (32) lines up against Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup in Week 2 of the 2019 season. Garrett Campbell/Washington Football Team)

The Washington Football Team is back at FedExField Sunday to face off against the Dallas Cowboys, the second of three straight NFC East opponents. Here's everything you need to know before the Week 7 divisional game:

GAMEDAY INFORMATION:

Date: Oct. 25

Time 1 p.m. ET

Location: FedExField (Landover, Maryland)

WATCH: FOX

  • Joe Davis (play-by-play)
  • Daryl Johnston (analyst)
  • Pam Oliver (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

  • Dallas leads the all-time series, 43-73-2.
  • Washington has played Dallas 118 times -- the fourth-most of any team. Their first matchup came Oct. 9, 1960, when Washington won, 26-14.
  • Washington has played Dallas in the playoffs twice and won both games. The last they met in the postseason was Jan. 22, 1983, when Washington defeated Dallas at RFK Stadium, 31-17.

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)

KEY NEW FACES

Washington:

  • QB Kyle Allen
  • RBs Peyton Barber / Antonio Gibson / J.D. McKissic
  • TEs Logan Thomas
  • DE Chase Young
  • LB Kevin Pierre-Louis
  • DBs Ronald Darby / Kendall Fuller

Dallas:

  • QB Andy Dalton
  • WR CeeDee Lamb
  • CB Trevon Diggs
  • S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

BIGGEST STORYLINES

Mike McCarthy's first season in Dallas -- Jason Garrett was Dallas' head coach for nearly a decade, but after finishing the 2019 season 8-8 and missing the playoffs, Garrett was relieved of his duties and replaced by former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.

McCarthy, who coached in Green Bay for 13 seasons, took a year off from coaching after leaving the organization in 2018. He coached Green Bay to eight winning seasons and helped the team win Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers. McCarthy has a 125-77-2 regular season record and a 10-8 postseason record as a head coach.

McCarthy helped produce nine top 10 offenses during his time in Green Bay. Now, he inherits a unit filled with talent like running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Andy Dalton's second start for the Cowboys -- Dak Prescott was statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL two weeks ago. He entered Dallas' matchup against the New York Giants leading the league with 1,690 passing yards, and his 68. 2 completion percentage was a career-high.

Then, with the Cowboys trailing the Giants, 25-24, in the third quarter, Prescott suffered a gruesome compound ankle fracture and dislocation on a scramble. Prescott was carted off the field and had a successful surgery, but his season is likely over.

That means Andy Dalton, who Dallas acquired via free agency, will line up under center for the Cowboys against Washington. He made his first start on Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals and finished 34-of-54 for 266 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in a 38-10 defeat.

Dalton has played a Ron Rivera-led team twice in his career. The first came in 2014, which ended in a 37-37 tie; the second was in Week 3 of the 2018 season, and resulted in a 31-21 loss.

A big test against a high-powered offense -- Washington has seen several talented offenses throughout the 2020 season, but few, if any of them are as stacked as Dallas. The trio of Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb have combined for 1,371 yards and five touchdowns, while Elliott is ninth among running backs with 413 yards.

Dallas has the league's No. 1 offense (464 yards per game), but that has not resulted in wins, as the team has a 2-4 record. The Cowboys have scored at least 30 points in four of six games, but they have had to compensate for their defense, which is 27th in yards allowed and gives up a league-worst 36.3 points per contest. Against the Cardinals, the Cowboys played below their averages in total offense and points with 344 yards and 10 points. Their first five drives ended in either a punt or turnover while the Cardinals put up 21 unanswered points.

While Washington's defense has struggles of its own -- the unit ranks 24th against the run -- it is statistically one of the NFL's best through six games. The passing defense is second-best, allowing 207 yards per game, and the secondary has a sixth-best Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) rate of -6.4%. Cornerback Kendall Fuller also has four interceptions, which ties him with Xavien Howard for the most in the league. Whichever team is able to control the passing game will have a strong chance of winning Sunday.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

Antonio Gibson vs. Ezekiel Elliott -- Elliott has been regarded as one of the best running backs in the NFL since being drafted by Dallas in 2016. He has led the league in rushing twice, been to the Pro Bowl three times and was voted first team All-Pro in his rookie season.

Antonio Gibson, who Washington drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, has only been a full-time running back for six games, but his talent has been apparent in every game. He is the team's leading rusher with 243 yards as well as its fifth-leading receiver with 147 yards. His 390 total yards are second only to wide receiver Terry McLaurin.

Elliott and Gibson won't directly compete against each other, but their performances will influence the outcome Sunday. Washington allows an average of 130 yards on the ground, but members of Washington's defensive line are still performing well this year. Chase Young and Montez Sweat were the third and ninth-ranked edge defender in Week 6, respectively, according to Pro Football Focus. The team has also tried to get more production out of its linebackers by getting Cole Holcomb in the rotation after the former North Carolina Tar Heel missed four weeks with a knee injury. That strategy seems to have worked, as Holcomb and free safety Deshazor Everett led the team with six tackles.

Washington's secondary vs. Dallas' wide receivers -- As previously mentioned, Dallas held the No.1 offense in total yards last year and will be a contender to claim that title again in 2020, due in part to its potent receiving corps. The position did lose Randall Cobb in free agency, but Lamb has taken over his spot in the slot.

Washington's defense ranked 18th last year in passing yards, but the secondary has been restructured with Fuller and Ronald Darby joining the team via free agency and will be part of the starting lineup. Fabian Moreau has had limited action after grabbing three interceptions last year, but he played 27% of the defensive snaps against the Giants, which could lead to more playing time later this year. Landon Collins leads the secondary with 37 tackles and has played every defensive snap in five of six games.

Jack Del Rio vs. Kellen Moore -- While individual matchups will be pivotal to both teams, the play-callers directing the units will also be trying to put their players in the best position to succeed. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is in his second season as a play-caller, but he showed promise when he took over Dallas' offense in 2019, transforming a unit that was 22nd in total offense to one of the best in the NFL.

Jack Del Rio, who returned to coaching after a three-year break, has a stellar reputation as a capable coach and defensive coordinator. He has directed top 5 defenses as a coordinator and head coach, and he has helped players like Julius Peppers and Von Miller have some of their best statistical seasons.

Dallas' offense has only matched up against one defense -- the Los Angeles Rams -- that is statistically better than Washington. The Rams, fueled in part by a sack and four quarterback hits from Aaron Donald, held the Cowboys to 17 points -- their lowest performance of the season -- and limited them to 3-of-12 on third downs. It will be intriguing to see how these coaches will try to give their respective units the upper hand.

INDIVIDUAL STATS LEADERS

Washington:

  • Passing Yards -- QB Dwayne Haskins (939)
  • Passing TDs -- QB Dwayne Haskins (4)
  • Rushing Yards -- RB Antonio Gibson (243)
  • Rushing TDs -- RB Antonio Gibson (3)
  • Receiving Yards -- WR Terry McLaurin (487)
  • Receiving TDs -- WR Dontrelle Inman and TE Logan Thomas (2)
  • Tackles -- LB Jonathan Bostic (46)
  • Sacks -- DEs Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan (3)
  • Interceptions -- CB Kendall Fuller (4)

Dallas:

  • Passing Yards -- QB Dak Prescott (1,856)
  • Passing TDs -- QB Dak Prescott (9)
  • Rushing Yards -- RB Ezekiel Elliott (413)
  • Rushing TDs -- RB Ezekiel Elliott (5)
  • Receiving Yards -- WR Amari Cooper (503)
  • Receiving TDs -- WRs Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Shultz and Cedrick Wilson (2)
  • Tackles -- LB Jaylon Smith (63)
  • Sacks -- DE Aldon Smith (4)
  • Interceptions -- CB Chidobe Awuzie (1)

TEAM STATS LEADERS

Washington:

  • Total offense -- 32nd (275.3 YPG)
  • Scoring offense -- 30th (18.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense -- 28th (193.2 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed -- 31st (24)
  • Rushing offense -- 32nd (82.2 YPG)
  • Third-down offense -- 30th (31.45%)
  • Total defense -- 6th (337.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense -- 20th (27.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense -- 2nd (207.0 YPG)
  • Sacks -- 8th (16)
  • Rushing defense -- 24th (130.0 YPG)
  • Third-down defense -- 17th (42.68%)
  • Time of possession -- 24th (28:25)
  • Turnover differential -- T-22nd (-2)

Dallas:

  • Total offense -- 1st (464.0 YPG)
  • Scoring offense -- 10th (28.8 PPG)
  • Passing offense -- 1st (359.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed -- 20th (14)
  • Rushing offense -- 23rd (105.0 YPG)
  • Third-down offense -- 12th (45.33%)
  • Total defense -- 27th (410.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense -- 32nd (36.3 PPG)
  • Passing defense -- 18h (236.7 YPG)
  • Sacks -- 18th (11)
  • Rushing defense -- 31st (173.3 YPG)
  • Third-down defense -- 27th (48.81%)
  • Time of possession -- 29th (27:37)
  • Turnover differential -- 32nd (-12)

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