Washington Football Team vs. Dallas Cowboys Prediction: Can Washington Score Against the Cowboys' Fearsome Defense?

Washington Football Team vs. Dallas Cowboys prediction and pick from handicapper Ben Gretch. A healthier Dallas defensive line has dominated over the past few weeks. Here's how to play the latest trends that have them as double-digit favorites for Sunday Night Football.
Ben Gretch |
Sat, December 25, 2:19 PM EST | 8 min read
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Micah Parsons Dallas Cowboys

Washington Football Team vs. Dallas Cowboys Prediction: Can Washington Score Against the Cowboys' Fearsome Defense?

  • Key Stat: Dallas ranks 21st in offensive success rate over the past six weeks, but their pass defense ranks first in the NFL in success rate against over that same span
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Washington Football Team vs. Dallas Cowboys Prediction

Click here for the latest WFT vs. Cowboys odds

Washington heads to Dallas for a rematch of the Cowboys’ seven-point win from two weeks ago that was closer than it appeared on paper. The Cowboys led 27-8 before Washington scored with about five minutes left on what appeared to be a garbage-time touchdown. Unfortunately, Dak Prescott would throw an inexplicable pick-six deep in his own territory less than a minute later, and help Washington pull within a single score. Washington even got the ball back late with a chance to tie the game, but Dallas’s fearsome pass rush, which had been instrumental in building their big lead, forced Washington’s fourth turnover of the game to seal it. 

Dallas’s pass rush has been electric lately since they got DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory back to pair with rookie phenom Micah Parsons. Fueled by some impressive performances in recent games, Dallas now ranks first in the NFL in passing success rate against, a key metric for determining overall defensive strength. That’s been huge, because their offense has somewhat inexplicably taken a nosedive recently despite finally getting all three of their top wide receivers on the field together. 

Over the past six weeks, Dallas ranks 21st in offensive success rate. They have been better while passing than on the ground, which is a positive note, but Dak Prescott has had his share of questionable plays lately after looking like a potential MVP candidate for much of the first half of the season. With the defense playing at the level it is, I’m expecting Dallas have some games down the stretch where they try to develop a more effective running game, particularly in games they lead, in preparation for the playoffs. 

That could come into play here, in a game Dallas is favored by double digits. Washington is ravaged by COVID-19, plus star running back Antonio Gibson looks on the doubtful side of questionable with a toe injury. Washington should get quarterback Taylor Heinicke back this week after starting Garrett Gilbert in Week 15, but an already thin skill-position group is further limited with role players J.D. McKissic and Logan Thomas on IR, and Gibson potentially out. Add in that Terry McLaurin has not been his usually-effective self — going for more than 60 receiving yards just twice since Week 5 — and Washington isn’t an offense to bet on right now against a defense like this. 

One of the truisms of NFL games is closer contests lead to more scoring, as teams are more likely to throw and create extra possessions late when a back-and-forth element exists. I don’t expect that in this one, and the large spread gives us an indication that the market doesn’t, either. Dallas leaned into their strong defense in a lower-scoring 21-6 win over the Giants last week, and their win over Washington two weeks ago frankly should have been lower-scoring than the 27-20 final. The way to play Dallas dominating this game is on the under, where if they cover this spread, it’s likely because they’ve limited Washington to well below 20 points.

Washington Football Team vs. Dallas Cowboys Pick

Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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