Dallas Cowboys Countdown to Washington

WHEN:  3:25 p.m. Central Time

WATCH: FOX (Thom Brennaman & Troy Aikman)

LISTEN: Dallas Cowboys Radio Network; Sirius 83, XM 83; Cowboys app

FOLLOW: @BobbyBeltTX@CamiAnnG@JonahTulsNFL@therealmarklane


If you aren’t getting the game, you live in Seattle.


10: Dallas’ place for fourth down conversions — With Dan Bailey missing time and Mike Nugent filling in, the Cowboys may need to consider being more aggressive with fourth down calls. Face it: Nugent makes field goals of 50-plus yards 39.3 percent of the time compared to Bailey’s 69.4 percent. Rather than try, miss, and give the opposition good field position, Dallas may as well go for it. And fret not, for the Cowboys’ 6-of-11 fourth down conversion rate is actually second-best among teams with a minimum of 10 attempts.


9: Number of wins Jason Garrett has against Washington — A win Sunday will move Garrett with Tom Landry as the only Cowboys head coaches with double-digit wins against the franchise’s arch rivals. The fact is Garrett has defeated no other team more than Washington. Not only that, but he has a 5-1 mark at FedEx Field, his best winning percentage in any away NFC East venue. Garrett knows how to get his players ready to play on the road against Old DC.


8: Dak Prescott’s yards per attempt on second down — The number is actually 8.7, but that wouldn’t make much sense to put “8.7” in a top-10 countdown. Let’s stick to integers. Anyway, it is a 0.1 improvement over his 8.6 mark in 2016 on second down. The problem is his targets. In 2016, Prescott targeted Cole Beasley the most on second down with 14 targets compared to this season where Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are tied for the most with eight apiece. After kick-starting the run game, the next key to the Cowboys offense is to spread the ball around.


7: Wins Jay Gruden has in October — The fourth-year Washington head coach has a 7-3 record in October, by far his winningest month. Not only that, but Gruden has Washington 6-0 at home in October during his tenure. The Cowboys will need to get out to an early lead, or make sure they don’t give up the one they have late. If there were ever a time that Gruden’s team were at its most potent, it is in October and it is at FedEx Field.


6: The Cowboys defense’s rank for sacks — Even though the Cowboys have the league’s second-most leading sack artist in DeMarcus Lawrence with 9.5, Dallas is tied for sixth in the league with Chicago and Minnesota with 21. Washington’s offense has done a good job limiting Cousins to just 12 sacks, ranking 10th-fewest in the league. However, with Trent Williams out and the Washington offensive line tattered for now, it might be an opportunity for the Cowboys pass rush to feast.


5: Chris Thompson’s rank for most receiving touchdowns in the NFL — The fifth-year running back leads Washington in receiving touchdowns and is tied with seven other players for fifth-most in the NFL. The Cowboys have Sean Lee healthy and Anthony Hitchens back at middle linebacker. The two best linebackers for the Dallas defense will need to keep an eye on Thompson and not let him go off the way Todd Gurley did when Jaylon Smith played more snaps than even the Cowboys brain trust wanted for 2017.


4: How many defenses are tied for 16th-best yards per carry — Washington is one of those four teams, and interestingly they both average 4.0 yards per carry. Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, the fifth-best in the NFL. The key to getting the run game going is Elliott’s production on first down. The good news is Elliott’s first down yards per carry has improved in two weeks from 2.80 to 4.80, and it has showed. The Cowboys must win on first down to get the run game going and dominate Washington.


3: Kirk Cousin’s rank for passer rating — The sixth-year veteran has a 107.2 passer rating, good for third-best in the NFL. Only Alex Smith and Tom Brady have better passer ratings at this point in the season. Cousins also has the answer against Rod Marinelli’s defenses with a 111.5 passer rating. The sad fact is he’s 1-3, but with an average stat line of 26-for-36 for 302 yards and two touchdowns against Marinelli’s defense, a gambler’s fallacy may eventually prove true.


2: Number of Dallas and Washington teams that made the playoffs after 3-3 starts — For the Cowboys, the rate is 2-of-9 with 2006 being the last team to do so. For Washington, the rate is 2-of-15 with the 2012 being the last to qualify for postseason play. Michael Irvin told our friends at ESPN San Antonio this week that Sunday’s game is a playoff game with the way the Eagles have jumped out to a 6-1 start. Whoever loses will have a very deep hole to climb out of, while the victor gets a chance to keep pace with a Philadelphia squad that is starting to take attrition.


1: The Cowboys defense’s rank for best starting point in drives against — Let’s put it this way: opposing offense’s start at their drives against the Cowboys defense at the 24.5-yard line on average, the absolute furthest back in the NFL. Washington starts at their own 28.5-yard line, good for 14th-best in the NFL. They are tied with Tennessee for the 11th-most points per drive with 1.90 while the Dallas defense is tied with New England for sixth-worst in the NFL with 2.08 points per drive surrendered. This would be a good time for the Dallas defense to bend and not break given the advantage in starting field position.

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