Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: No Comfort Zone For Wentz

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Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, gives his weekly keys to the game Sunday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Commanders..

The Cowboys will win if…

The Cowboys need to stick to the formula that has helped them win back-to-back games. The team has opted for a complimentary football approach that has prioritized running the football, playing great defense, and winning the field position battle. The blue-collar game plans on each side of the ball have enabled the team to control the game and scratch out wins in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys would be wise to take a similar approach against the Commanders. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard should be the focal point of a game plan that utilizes the running game to set up an aerial attack with CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown taking turns catching balls over the middle of the field. Cooper Rush will need to make a handful of throws to sustain drives and score points in the red zone. But the journeyman must continue to avoid the big turnover. If he takes care of the football and keeps the offense on schedule, the Cowboys will eventually crack the code to put points on the board.

Dan Quinn will need to be on top of his game to give the Commanders' offensive coordinator (Scott Turner) a few different looks to decipher throughout the game. If the defense can force the play caller and quarterback (Carson Wentz) out of their comfort zone, the Cowboys will eventually produce a turnover that changes the game and seals a win.

The Commanders will win if…

The Commanders have been able to knock off the Cowboys when they have been able to dictate the terms of the game. Whether utilizing an up-tempo offense with a myriad of shifts, motions and misdirections to take advantage of an undisciplined defense or relying on an aggressive defensive plan to create chaos and turnovers, the Commanders have chalked up wins when they have been able to jump on the Cowboys early in the game.

The blueprint should be the same in this pivotal matchup with Carson Wentz and Co. needing a fast start to ensure they are able to play from ahead and without the stress of chasing points. When the Commanders' QB1 has been able to play his game as a high-end "game manager", the offense has been productive and efficient. Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel must be featured prominently in the plan with Jahan Dotson also playing a role as a designated playmaker. If the pass-catching trio gets going early, it could prevent the Cowboys from loading up to stop the run. In addition, the success of the Commanders' quick-rhythm passing game will determine whether Wentz will need to push the ball down the field into the teeth of the Cowboys' defense.

Given how well the Cowboys have been at producing turnovers, the veteran wants to avoid making risky throws at all costs.

Defensively, the Commanders must stop No.21 and No.20 to have any chance of knocking off the Cowboys. The running game must be eliminated to put the game on the shoulders of Cooper Rush. Despite his success as a starter for the Cowboys (3-0), he is a backup quarterback with limited experience in big games. The Commanders need to make him play the role of a "playmaker" from the pocket and hope the journeyman makes a critical error that changes the momentum of the game.

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