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Keys to Victory

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Keys To Victory: Don't Get Too Comfortable


The Cowboys were able to jump out to a big lead over Washington, only to have to hold on for a 27-20 win just two weeks ago.

The two teams meet again but the circumstances are a bit different now that the Cowboys have all but wrapped up the NFC East and Washington is only hoping for a Wild Card spot after losing two straight.

Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Cowboys and Washington.

The Cowboys will win if…

With a playoff berth wrapped up, the Cowboys cannot allow complacency to taint their performance against WFT. This is a chance to not only win the division, but it is an opportunity to make a run at the No.1 seed. The Cowboys need to take care of business against an overmatched opponent that lacks the firepower to keep up. Dak Prescott and Co. need to come out firing from the start utilizing an efficient approach that takes advantage of the soft zones employed by WFT. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup might not have opportunities to snag deep balls against the umbrella coverage, but the trio could produce big plays on a variety of "catch-and-run" concepts at short- and intermediate distance. If the complementary passing game gets going, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard could have more room to run between the tackles.

Defensively, the Cowboys need to turn up the pressure to force Taylor Heinicke into a harried performance that could be littered with turnovers. Micah Parsons, Randy Gregory, Demarcus Lawrence, and Trevon Diggs need to set the tone with their energy and effort while producing a handful of splash plays that influence the outcome of the game. If the Cowboys take care of business utilizing a workmanlike approach, the NFC East leaders should win this game by a comfortable margin.

The WFTs will win if…

It is possible for any NFL team to chalk up a win on game day if they are able to get the game on their terms. Despite a flawed lineup, WFT has proven that they are capable of winning when they are able to control the tempo of the game with a workmanlike offense designed to milk the clock while producing a few explosive plays in the passing game. Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin must have big games as the offense's primary playmakers to keep the game within reach until the fourth quarter. If Taylor Heinicke can find his rhythm early in the game, the WFT offense has enough firepower to put on the board against an aggressive defense that features a few gamblers in the lineup.

On defense, WFT must take away the deep ball and contain the running game to win. Against a big-play offense like the Cowboys, the defense should focus on making Dak Prescott and Co. drive the length of the field on 10-plus plays to score. If WFT can force the Cowboys to nickel and dime the ball down the field, the odds of the defense coming up with a negative play or timely turnover increases, and gives them a puncher's chance of pulling off an upset on the road.

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