Dallas Cowboys (3-8 SU, 3-8 ATS) vs. Washington Redskins (5-6 SU, 5-6 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: December 7/8:30pm ET
Where: FedEx Field
by Evergreen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL +4.5/WASH -4.5
Over/Under Total: 42
If you like to root for parity in the NFL or simply mediocre football, make sure you tune into Monday Night Football this week to see the Dallas Cowboys take on the Washington Redskins. Dallas, at 3-8, is still alive in the NFC East and a win against the division leading Skins will plunge that division further down the road to some truly bizarre playoff scenarios. Washington has been one of most up-and-down squads of this season, winning every home game and losing each road contest so the quick glance has you liking the Redskins to improve to 6-6, especially as the Boys are without Tony Romo again.
Dallas has not been good without Romo so it is no surprise to see Washington listed at a 4.5 point favorite for Monday Night. The Cowboys have won six of the last ten games in this series straight up but that stretch has seen the Redskins go 8-2 against the spread. Washington is 4-1 ATS in their last five at FedEx Field and Dallas is riding a five game ATS losing streak on Monday Night Football.
So, how good has Washington been at home? The simple answer is much better when it comes to record but with the exception of a 47-14 win against New Orleans, the Redskins have won their other four home games by an average of just six points. Those wins havent come against stiff competition either as Tampa, Philly and St. Louis have been among the teams to visit Washington. Kirk Cousins has been significantly better at FedEx however, throwing for at least 290 yards in each home game since Week 2 with 9 touchdowns and zero picks over that span. He has thrown multiple interceptions in 5-of-6 road games for comparison. As a whole, Washington is a bottom-10 offense averaging 21.9 points per game but they rack up 29 per contest at home.
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Obviously, Dallas would have preferred to have Romo at the helm but they have a extensive gameplan in place to play without him. Problem is, that gameplan has not netted a single win and Dallas will not put Romo on the IR just in case the Cowboys remain playoff relevant for a few more weeks. There have been games that Dallas should have won over that initial Romo injury span, most notably a 10-6 loss to Tampa and a 13-12 defeat at home to Seattle. Even one win over that stretch would have the Cowboys in position to make a playoff move but as it is, Matt Cassel is back driving a ship that is quickly headed for a wreck. Thanksgiving was probably the low point of the season as Dallas fell 33-14 to Carolina and would have lost that game even if Romo didnt re-injure his collarbone so the Boys have a tall test ahead of them to get back up off the mat.
In a matchup of two pretty flawed teams, Dallas has the best individual unit as their defense is top-10 in total yards and passing yards allowed. Washington is bottom half in yards gained on offense so it looks like this game could be a big of a slug-fest. What happens with the Dallas offense versus the Washington D might be the swing matchup here. The Redskins arent lighting the world on fire on defense but they defend the pass pretty well and have given up just 17.5 points per game at home. Cassel and the passing game have been underwhelming for Dallas but there has been some success on the ground behind Darren McFadden. Much of that running production has come by a result of volume when the Boys were without Romo and Dez Bryant but look for Dallas to attack Washingtons 28th ranked run defense even with Dez back in the lineup.
DeSean Jackson has been his usual self since his return from a nasty hamstring injury. D-Jax is averaging 17.7 yards per carry in his limited action and gives Cousins an over-the-top threat to draw the defense. Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder have worked well under that coverage and Cousins have hit the Reed, Crowder, Pierre Garcon trio for 9 of his 16 passing touchdowns. Alfred Morris and Matt Jones have been pretty ineffective with both averaging 3.6 yards per carry, further putting the offense on Cousins shoulders. For Dallas, the passing game weapons are present with Dez leading a capable unit that includes Jason Witten and slot-whiz Cole Beasley. It will be key for Cassel to open up the passing game and keep the Redskin defense from stacking the box.
Ultimately, the limitations of the Cowboys due to injury and their past performance without Romo leads you to think they are going to 3-9. If the Redskins really do have some magic at home, the 4.5 should not be too much to cover. The offensive playmakers for Washington are tougher to guard and Dallas will struggle to limit both Jackson deep and Reed underneath. Washington will move the ball better and put the points on the board. That will lead the Cowboys away from using McFadden and the run to control the game and Cassel hasnt proven he can lead Dallas with the pass. Look for a 24-16 Washington win as they remain in the drivers seat in the division.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Washington
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