IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys could be eliminated from the postseason this weekend if they don't beat the Redskins and the Eagles win against the Bears. So this trip to Washington D.C. is virtually a must-win game for the Cowboys, who have now lost two straight games to drop to 7-7.
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
It's really easy to hop on the negativity train, considering how the past week has gone for the Cowboys. They don't have a linebacker corps, and their secondary is held together by duct tape. I don't have much doubt Kirk Cousins is going to be the latest backup quarterback to rack up big yardage. With the season in the balance, though, I think Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray can step up and carry this team into Week 17. More importantly, I think the offensive line can step up and continue its hot streak. I see another 100-yard effort in Murray, and I think Romo can take advantage of a bad Washington secondary. Michael Spurlock is going to have a valuable return in a key situation, and Dallas is going to win by 10-14 points.
Hopes are slim right now for a reeling Dallas group after losing two straight games in awful fashion, once just getting picked apart in Chicago and the other by giving a game away to the Packers, but there's a reason the Redskins are a three-win team and have lost their last six. Their situation is worse than the Cowboys' current one. The breadth of Dallas defensive injuries make them look more and more like last year's team, so there aren't a litany of teams I'd pick them to beat, but this is still one. I think the Cowboys go back to what they trust, getting Jason Witten involved early. He'll find the end zone, but the Dallas offense will also find a way to get Cole Beasley at least five catches. The play-calling will still frustrate some, as the Cowboys work to find the best way to handle their recent rushing success, but they'll have success on the ground and through the air before Dan Bailey wins it by a field goal.
My gut for this game isn't so great. Somehow, I have a hard time seeing the Cowboys get out this place with a win. Then again, I really don't think the season and playoff hopes will be over after Sunday. Whatever the Cowboys do, I see the Eagles doing as well, setting up a showdown next week like we all expected. I think the Cowboys can definitely win this game, but I worry about the defense stopping the run, especially if it gets rainy and turns into a sloppy-field game. I don't think you can dismiss the fact Washington has just three wins. A three-win team is a bad team. And while Kirk Cousins can certainly hurt this team, there's a reason they are so bad. So I think this one is close. Somehow I have a hard time picking Dallas, but an even stronger feeling is the Cowboys have something to play for next week, too.