At least a share of first place in the NFC East is at stake this Sunday at FedEx Field when the Cowboys (3-3) and Washington Redskins (3-2) resume their rivalry for the 117th time in the series.
The Cowboys' road woes are well-documented – 3-0 at home and 0-3 away from AT&T Stadium. Washington is coming off an impressive win over a Carolina team that handed Dallas its first road loss of the season in the Week 1 opener.
Will the Cowboys' fortunes change this Sunday? The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their 'gut feelings' about the pivotal division matchup:
Bryan Broaddus: The Cowboys defensively are one of the best in the league when it comes to three-and-outs. A big reason for that is their ability to limit yardage on first down. The Redskins are going to try to establish the run early with Adrian Peterson to get to their play-action game with Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. The Redskins are really banged up at receiver, so how well they can hold up against the run and handle both Reed and Davis down the field will be the difference in the game. With Sean Lee back in the lineup, look for this defense to continue to build on their outstanding start. The Cowboys get their first road win behind an attacking defense, 24-13.
Lindsay Draper: After last week's dominant performance against Jacksonville, there's absolutely no reason the Cowboys shouldn't win on the road Sunday. Dak Prescott communicated to the media that the offense got together and discussed the importance of communication at FedEx Field. I think this team knows the trend; they need a win on the road in a bad way. And they really, really need a win before the bye week. There's nothing worse than two full weeks with a bad taste in your mouth, paired with a sub .500 record. Through six weeks, this young team pinpoints their lack of poise on the road against the Redskins, impressively taking their NFC East record to 2-0.
Rob Phillips: The Cowboys simply have to start this road game faster. In losses at Carolina, Seattle and Houston, they totaled only nine points – three field goals – in the first half. They jumped out to a 6-0 first-quarter lead against the Texans but couldn't cash in on touchdown opportunities. Washington removed the balance from Carolina's offense last week with a big lead. If the Cowboys want to keep the run game going with Ezekiel Elliott and keep getting Prescott on the move a little more, they can't afford to get behind early. I believe this offense is due for a more efficient performance against a familiar opponent, and the defense can only benefit from Lee's return this week. Gut feeling: Dallas enters the bye week above .500 with its first two-game win streak of the season.
David Helman: I'm not interested in overthinking this. The Cowboys are a flawed team – but so is Washington. The Cowboys haven't won on the road this year – but they don't lose at FedEx Field. They're 5-0 at FedEx Field over the past five years, and they're 14-7 all-time since the building opened in 1997. Washington has a stout defensive front, but I trust the offensive line to make some room for Elliott. It's not going to be pretty, but I think he and Prescott can combine to get this team up near 150 total rushing yards. With the run game clicking, I'm thinking maybe Geoff Swaim has his best day as a pro, taking advantage of Washington's efforts to take Cole Beasley out of the game plan. Swaim finishes with 65 yards and a touchdown from Dak, and the Dallas defense harasses Alex Smith into a timely interception. Cowboys head into the bye week with a win – something like 24-20.
Nick Eatman: You know when you're looking at a winless team, or even an undefeated team, you always think at some point they're going to get that win or loss. It doesn't last forever. So at some point, you think the Redskins are finally going to beat the Cowboys at home. But, it won't be this week. Yes, Washington seems to be better than in recent years. But I think the Cowboys are a little better as well. I think we're all hoping that last week was the start of something here, and not just a one-week deal. When I think of the Redskins on offense, I have a hard time thinking they will move up and down the field. Having Jamison Crowder out is big for them. And it'll be even bigger if Chris Thompson doesn't play. I see the Cowboys scoring just enough points on offense to make a difference. Give me a touchdown by Blake Jarwin this week and another from Zeke. How about an interception from Byron Jones and somehow, you'll see a big play from the linebacker few people are talking about – Damien Wilson. All in all, the Cowboys will win another close one, beating the Redskins 21-19.
Mickey Spagnola: How fitting to come up with this saying as the Cowboys are heading into Washington D.C. to play the Redskins, the place where the U.S. Department of the Treasury is located: In Defense We Trust. As in the Dallas Cowboys' defense, now ranked fourth in the National Football League, giving up no more than 17.2 points a game. The defense held Jacksonville to seven points. It held Houston to just 16 over four quarters. Held Carolina to 16 and the Giants to just 13. Only Seattle (24) and Detroit (24) have scored more than 16 on the Cowboys over four quarters. So why can't they hold the offensively-challenged Redskins to less than 20 points? And if the defense does that, count on the Cowboys winning their first game on the road and back-to-back games for the first time since winning three straight against the Redskins, Giants and Raiders in Games 12-14 last year.