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Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Dallas & Washington


While the NFL has seemingly hit the pause button after Monday night's game between the Bengals and Bills, involving the injury to Damar Hamlin, all NFL teams will do its best to try and focus on the next game.

The NFL released a statement on Monday stating that no changes to the Week 18 regular-season schedule have been made. With that, the Cowboys will focus on the Commanders with a chance to still win the NFC East.

For Washington, they had unexpectedly been in the playoff hunt for the majority of the season but after the Commanders' loss at home to the Browns, the Cowboys' rival will now instead be playing spoiler.

It all comes down to this Sunday at 3:25 CT at FedEx Field. Here are the five storylines for the Cowboys and Commanders.


  • The Cowboys already locked up their playoff spot a few weeks back, but still remain very much alive in the chase for another NFC East crown with the Eagles. Dallas will place no worse than the No. 5 seed but can clinch the division with a win over the Commanders and an Eagles' loss to the Giants, who have already claimed the No. 6 seed. The Cowboys can also claim the No. 1 seed or No. 2 seed as well should the Cardinals beat the 49ers in conjunction with an Eagles' loss and a win over the Commanders.
  • On the injury front, center Tyler Biadasz will likely miss Week 18 with what was deemed a high ankle sprain but could return in time for the playoffs. In the meantime, the Cowboys will move ahead with the alignment they finished with against the Titans with Connor McGovern at center. Matt Farniok will have his 21-day practice window opened this week according to head coach Mike McCarthy after tearing his hamstring in October, giving Dallas more depth at the center spot. McCarthy also said that Tony Pollard will hit the practice field again this week after missing the Titans' game with a thigh issue.
  • With Pollard, he's just 12 yards shy from eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career with a chance to do so against the Commanders should he play. It's already been a career year for Pollard, rushing for 988 yards and nine touchdowns good for 10th best in the NFL this season. In the receiving game he's also totaled just under 400 yards to go with three scores.
  • The interception bug has continued to hit Dak Prescott all season since his return from injury in October, and it struck again with two more against the Titans. While one was a bobbled catch by rookie tight end Peyton Hendershot into the hands of safety Kevin Byard, the second Prescott interception also went to Byard on a bad read. Whatever the case, Prescott is tied for the league-lead in picks with Kirk Cousins and the since benched Derek Carr with the Raiders. The good news is that Prescott is 9-1 all time against the Commanders, including his last against them during Week 16 last season fin that 56-14 drubbing.
  • CeeDee Lamb has already had a career year in just his third season with the Cowboys and his first in the No. 1 receiver role. He's already set a career-high in receiving yards with over 1,300 and a new watermark in touchdowns with eight. Lamb sits in seventh in the league in yards and is tied for seventh in scores for receivers with a chance to creep into the top five in both categories.


  • At 7-8-1 the Commanders have been eliminated from the playoffs, and their recent stretch of play is a major factor. Washington has lost three straight games including most recently to the Brown 24-10 in a game in which they mustered all of 260 yards of offense, with 136 of those yards coming on the ground.
  • After being sat in place of Taylor Heinicke midway through the season after returning from injury, Carson Wentz was given the starting nod against the Browns for the first time since Week 6 with minimal success. Wentz passed for 143 yards and three picks with no touchdowns, and head coach Ron Rivera has yet to determine if Wentz will get the start against the Cowboys or if Washington will turn back to Heinicke.
  • In terms of injury for the Commanders, the most notable is defensive tackle Johnathan Allen who left Sunday's game early with a knee injury and is listed as questionable. Allen has 7.5 sacks on the year with 65 tackles and 16 TFLs while making up a strong front four for the Commanders alongside Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Chase Young. Elsewhere, running back Antonio Gibson is also listed as questionable after missing the Browns' game with a leg injury.
  • Even with that injury to Allen, the Commanders' defense has still ranked among the best in the league in a couple of key categories as the season draws to a close. Washington is fifth in yards allowed per game this season while also ranking fifth in passing yards per game. Despite being without their best pass rusher in Young, the Commanders have totaled 42 sacks across 16 games, good for 10th in the NFL.
  • Lastly, while the Commanders have been strongly committed to the running game this season, their receiving corps should not go unnoticed. Headlined by Terry McLaurin with over 1,100 yards and just four scores, rookie Jahan Dotson leads the team in receiving touchdowns with seven on just 32 catches and 451 yards. Curtis Samuel has been productive as well with 63 catches and over 650 yards and four scores. The Cowboys held that trio to nine catches and 53 yards and one touchdown.

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