Unless you’re the Jacksonville Jaguars or Carolina Panthers, Thursday games always favor the home team. A short week to prepare, fatigue, and travel form a difficult combination for road teams to overcome. With the exception of a blowout by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Minnesota, home teams have received a notable boost on Thursdays in the NFL. The more talented roster usually prevails at home on Thursday, and the Dallas Cowboys (loosely) fit that trend.
After barely defeating the Cleveland Browns last week, however, the Cowboys are an ugly 2-2 at home. The Dallas Cowboys are struggling, and another mediocre effort from Dallas likely won’t be enough to beat a Washington Redskins team that is far more talented than their record. Will the Cowboys’ struggles at home continue, or will their Thanksgiving dominance on a short week carry them past a divisional foe?
Robert Griffin III could cause serious problems for a Cowboys defense ranked seventh in fewest yards allowed this year. A depleted linebacking corps could have issues stopping a quarterback this mobile. Additionally, poor safety play makes Dallas a liability to give up big plays. Still, Michael Vick didn’t hold up very well against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago, and I expect a similar fate for a similar type of quarterback in RGIII. The Cowboys will come after the rookie, and I don’t think he’s ready.
On the other side of the ball, the enigmatic Dallas Cowboys offense will decide the game. Dez Bryant finally had a big week against the Browns, but the Cowboys still only produced 20 points in regulation against one of the league’s worst teams. Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Washington Redskins are the second-worst defense in the NFL in terms of points allowed – behind only the historically bad New Orleans Saints. Establishing the run, as always, will be crucial for the Cowboys this week. Given all of Washington’s injuries, I expect the Cowboys offense to be relatively efficient. That said, talent advantages at the skill positions haven’t been enough to overcome a weak offensive line and a plethora of turnovers this year.
The Dallas Cowboys certainly didn’t destroy the Cleveland Browns as predicted last week, but they found a way to win a close game. They’re .500 on the year, and, considering the New York Giants‘ tough matchup with the Green Bay Packers this week, it’s possible the Cowboys could be tied atop the division to start December. Against a divisional rival on a holiday that Dallas has dominated, expect the best the Cowboys have to offer. Despite their many struggles, it’s time the Dallas Cowboys finally put it all together to live up to the lofty expectations they set for themselves each year. As unlikely as this looked two weeks ago, a win can put Dallas at the top of the NFC East. In a must-win game, I like Dallas to play well and win.
This is America’s Team on Thanksgiving. This is tradition. I simply cannot bet against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Dallas Cowboys 28 – Washington Redskins 24