Note: If you're looking for the 2012 Week 17 game between these two teams, please go here: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins Pick.
Washington Redskins (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (5-5 SU, 4-6 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 22nd, 2012, 4:15 p.m. EST
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Wash. +3.5/DAL -3.5
Over/Under Total: 48
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The Dallas Cowboys annual Thanksgiving Day game will have a new twist this season, when they welcome their NFC East rival Washington Redskins into Cowboys Stadium for a battle between wildcard hopefuls in the afternoon contest on Fox.
While both teams enter the Turkey Day contest fresh off of victories, the way they scored those wins were extremely different.
It was just 14 days ago when Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was talking about "evaluating talent" the rest of the regular season, following an embarrassing, 21-13, loss at home to the two-win Carolina Panthers. Following Sunday's impressive, 31-6, demolishing of the hapless Philadelphia Eagles, a game where rookie QB Robert Griffin III threw four touchdowns and looked like a future superstar, now suddenly the Redskins are back to talking about "believing" again that they have a "legitimate shot" at getting back into the NFC East race and NFC wild card hunt.
But while the Redskins were busy drilling the Eagles, the Cowboys were running for their lives against the Cleveland Browns.
Dallas pushed the game into overtime with a length of the field drive in just over a minute to tie the game at, 20-20, then took advantage of a "generous" non-fumble call on Miles Austin in overtime to sneak away with a gift-win over the Browns, 23-20. With seven more sacks Tony Romo has become a human pinball, and with starting left tackle Tyron Smith out with a bum ankle against the Browns, now the Cowboys issues along the offensive front have been upgraded to critical with a short week to prepare for the annual holiday game just a few days away.
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Oddsmakers set the opening point spread with the Cowboys as 4-point favorites at home, but within hours the betting public that just finished watching the Redskins look unbeatable and the Cowboys barely get past the two-win Browns hammered the Skins so much that the number has dropped to Dallas minus -3.5.
The over/under total opened at 46 and quickly moved up to 48 before the close of business on Sunday night.
The short week is certainly going to have a huge effect on the Cowboys offense for Thursday. Dallas has already been pulling guys off the street to fill roles along the offensive line, and now with Smith and his ankle a likely "game time" decision, who knows is Romo will be able to take advantage of the Redskins weak secondary (allowing 289 ypg - 29th) in the passing game.
Dallas has virtually stopped trying to run the ball too, and with DeMarco Murray (foot) and backup Felix Jones (knee) both questionable for Thursday, the few carries the Cowboys give to running backs these days might go to third-stringer Lance Dunbar.
Last week the Redskins offense looked tough to beat, but in reality it was all RGIII (and the Eagles crappy defense). The rookie was 14-of-15 and threw for four scores, but he is also the Skins best running back (84 yards, 7.0 ypc), and the workload wasn't a factor coming out of the bye week but that hasn't always been the case this season. Griffin will be facing a strong Dallas pass defense (211 ypg - 6th), and Demarcus Ware and his 10 sacks coming off the edge, so if the Redskins think they can get away with him being 90 percent of their offense again this week they might want to think twice.
Dallas did sweep the season series last year, which is part of the reason the Redskins wound up with RGIII in the draft. However, both games were much closer than you'd have thought, with the Cowboys winning at home in Cowboys Stadium, 18-16, in September before scoring a 27-24 win in D.C. in November.
Dallas has not been a good wager in games against the NFC East however, going 4-11 ATS in the last three seasons. Washington has been the opposite, going 10-4 ATS during the same span.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With a short week and so many issues along their offensive line, I have no idea how the Cowboys will be able to get prepared for this game. But Washington will not be as explosive as they were against the Eagles. RGIII won't carve up the Cowboys, and Romo will be running for his life again on Thursday. Take the under of 48.
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