WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-6) AT DALLAS COWBOYS (5-6)
KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, AT&T Stadium, TV: NBC, NFLN, Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox (field reporter)
SERIES HISTORY: 114th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 69-42-2 and have won five of the last six meetings. Dallas won 33-19 at Washington on Oct. 29. The Redskins have won both postseason games against the Cowboys.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Pivotal game with the loser becoming more of a longshot to make the playoffs. The Redskins can't just assume because Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is still suspended that the Cowboys won't run the ball on them. Washington was torn apart in the 33-19 loss on Oct. 19 when Elliott ran for a season-high 150 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns. Without Elliott the past three games, Dallas still managed 68 carries for 298 yards (4.4 yards per carry). The Redskins are limited at linebacker and on the defensive line, where injuries have hit the hardest.
The Cowboys managed even with injuries on the offensive line to left tackle Tyron Smith. Right tackle La'el Collins (back) hasn't practiced this week, while Smith (back/groin) and right guard Zack Martin (concussion) have been limited.
The Redskins' pass rush is good with outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan leading the way. They need a big night from outside linebacker Preston Smith, who has been quiet lately without a sack since Week 6.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has been awful the past three weeks (zero touchdowns, five interceptions) and the Cowboys were outscored 92-22. Get on top early and the Redskins could quickly turn AT&T Stadium against the home team. But where Washington has a big advantage is on offense. Kirk Cousins has managed to make do with the weapons he has left. Washington has scored 81 points its past three games, including narrow losses to first-place teams New Orleans (34-31) and Minnesota (38-30).
Wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson are performing as expected now and rookie running back Samaje Perine has had three consecutive strong games (56 carries, 252 yards, one touchdown) with no fumbles. Add in tight end Vernon Davis (33 catches, 527 yards) filling in for an injured Jordan Reed and Washington can still put up points.
And unlike the home loss to Dallas, this time left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff, both Pro Bowlers in 2016, should play. Williams remains iffy, but has returned to practice.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Redskins CB Josh Norman. This is normally must-see TV during this matchup. Certainly, Norman will match up with Bryant. But Bryant has been a non-factor for the Cowboys. He does lead the team with 53 catches on a whopping 102 targets. Bryant is averaging just 10.9 yards per reception with a long of 36 yards. He remains a red-zone threat with four touchdowns, but Bryant has not been an impact player
--Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence vs. Redskins RT Morgan Moses. Lawrence is second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks, but has just one sack in the last four games. There is a chance he could get well against the Redskins and Moses, who has been struggling with knee and two ankle injuries. The Cowboys must find a way to get to Kirk Cousins and Lawrence is the key.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Redskins linebacker Zach Vigil. Looking for his second consecutive game as the Redskins seek a solution at inside linebacker, where former starters Mason Foster (shoulder) and Will Compton (Lisfranc sprain) are on IR and Martrell Spaight (ankle) has been limited in practice this week. Vigil had four tackles in a 20-10 victory over the Giants on Thursday playing next to 2016 Pro Bowler Zach Brown. Vigil spent training camp with the Redskins, was cut on Sept. 2, spent eight weeks on the Buffalo Bills practice squad and was re-signed by Washington on Nov. 14.
FAST FACTS: Redskins QB Kirk Cousins ranks 2nd in NFL with 3,038 yards passing and is one of only three with 3,000-plus yards passing and 100+ rating (101.1). In past 2 games at Dallas, totaled 625 yards passing, 6 TDs & 0 INTs for 134.4 rating. Rookie RB Samaje Perine had career-high 130 scrimmage yards (100 rush, 30 rec.) in Week 12. WR Jamison Crowder collected career-high 141 yards receiving and TD last week. TE Vernon Davis scored two TDS in last two visits to Dallas. LB Ryan Kerrigan made three sacks in last two games and 4.5 sacks in past four games vs. Dallas. LB Zach Brown leads NFL with 110 tackles. CB Josh Norman defensed four passes and added a FF and FR in last four meetings ... Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw 16 TDs vs. 7 INTs for 97.6 rating in past 10 home games ... RB Alfred Morris spent 4 seasons with Washington (2012-15) & had 4,713 yards rushing, 29 TD. Since 2012, ranks 6th in NFL with 5,252 yards rushing. WR Dez Bryant caught three TD passes in last 4 home games against Washington and has 65 TD catches since 2011, tied for most in NFL. DE DeMarcus Lawrence is tied for third in NFL with 11.5 sacks ... Safety Byron Jones had 21-yard INT-TD in last meeting, his only career TD. LB Jaylon Smith led team with 8 tackles in Week 12 and leads team with 66 tackles.
PREDICTION: Tension should be high as both teams, and both quarterbacks, want to prove they are worthy of playoff consideration. This is a tough one to call especially considering the home team may be confronted by a hostile crowd if dem Cowboys don't do well early in the game.
OUR PICK: Redskins, 34-28