Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders: Week 4 Preview


Dallas Cowboys to play Washington Commanders | Image by AP

The Dallas Cowboys are at AT&T Stadium this weekend to take on the Washington Commanders.

Though Dallas and Washington have played a total of 122 regular season games since their first meeting in 1961, this will be the first meeting between the storied franchises since Washington adopted a new name this season. Dallas holds a 75-45-2 all-time record against Washington, including two wins last season.

Cowboys backup quarterback Cooper Rush will be looking for his third-consecutive victory after taking over for an injured Dak Prescott in Week 1.

Rush has done a remarkable job operating the Cowboys offense in Prescott’s absence, hitting 514 yards on 47 completions with zero interceptions and completing a touchdown pass in each of the last two outings.

Cowboys fans have continued to anticipate that Dallas would lean on the running game with Prescott out, but offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has made an effort to keep the offense balanced.

Rush has thrown passes on 59% of offensive downs this season, taking advantage of defenses that are geared to stop running backs Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott.

The addition of Jason Peters on the offensive line last week opened up several opportunities for rushing, including a 47-yarder from Pollard, the longest Cowboys run of the season.

Receiver Michael Gallup and tight end Dalton Schultz are both expected to start, giving Rush options in the passing game should the Commanders focus too much on stopping the run.

Both players were listed as limited in practice this week, but both were game-time decisions last week. Head coach Mike McCarthy said this week that it was likely they would both be available against Washington.

The Commanders offense — particularly the offensive line — has struggled to offer quarterback Carson Wentz many opportunities so far this season. Wentz was sacked nine times last week against an Eagles defense that is proving to be a monster in the NFC East.

This week, Wentz will contend with linebackers Micah Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch and defensive ends Dorance Armstrong and Demarcus Lawrence, a defensive group capable of generating sacks and tackles for loss on virtually any play.

Washington is likely to be without starting center Wes Schweitzer, who is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He will be replaced by Nick Martin if he is unable to clear protocols by Sunday.

The Commanders are also thin at left tackle, with Charles Leno Jr. currently listed as questionable with a knee injury.

Wentz will also need to contend with a Cowboys secondary that is likely to see the return of Jayron Kearse, who will provide an uptick in pass coverage. Corner Trevon Diggs will also be looking to take advantage of forced and off-target tosses after collecting his first interception last week, sealing the win over New York.

The Washington defense has been an issue this season and is a part of the reason the team enters this Week 4 match at 1-2. The unit is giving up 128.7 yards rushing per game and 274 yards passing.

Only five teams in the NFL have given up more yards per game than Washington.

The Commanders’ path to success in this game will begin and end on the offensive line. If Washington can protect Carson Wentz, the Commanders have a legitimate shot at victory.

The Cowboys will need to exploit the shaky Commanders offensive line to set the Dallas offense up with manageable field positioning. If Rush plays at the same level he has through two full games this season, the chances of a Commanders victory will be very slim.

Betting lines favor a Cowboys victory. The Cowboys hold a -165 rating on the money line with a three-point spread.

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