Can Ezekiel Elliott lead the Cowboys past Washington and into first place? – NFL Nation


4:30 p.m. ET | Fox

Matchup rating: 12.9 | Spread: DAL -2.5 (46.5)

What to watch for: With first place in the NFC East on the line — at least until Sunday — which team will make fewer mistakes? The Cowboys have had at least one turnover in every game since the season opener and have 21 on the season, second most in the league. Washington has 17 giveaways, which is tied for fifth most. While the teams’ 3-7 records indicate how poorly the season has gone, there is still a chance to make the playoffs by winning the division. Taking care of the ball matters even more when the margin for error is so small. — Todd Archer

Bold prediction: In three home games against Washington, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has averaged 113.3 yards and 1.3 touchdowns. So naturally, he will rush for 113 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. Washington’s run defense has been inconsistent at best, partly because some of its linemen continue to use two-gap techniques in a one-gap system and then the linebackers don’t attack often enough. Quarterback Alex Smith will keep Washington in this game, but when Elliott cracks 100 yards, Dallas is 23-4. — John Keim

Stat to know: Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin has 120 receptions in 24 career games. McLaurin needs 11 against Dallas to have the most through 25 games in Washington franchise history. The Ohio State product is currently third on the list behind Jordan Reed (130) and Gary Clark (122).

Injuries: Washington | Cowboys

What to know for fantasy: Over the past three weeks, Washington’s Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic are both top-10 running backs. See Week 12 rankings.

Betting nugget: Dallas is 1-8 ATS in its past nine Thanksgiving games. Read more.

Keim’s pick: Cowboys 27, Washington 24

Archer’s pick: Cowboys 27, Washington 17

FPI prediction: WSH, 54.8% (by an average of 1.7 points)

Thanksgiving Day throwback: In 1974, backup quarterback Clint Longley entered for an injured Roger Staubach with the Cowboys trailing Washington 16-3. Longley rallied Dallas to a victory, completing 11 passes for 203 yards. He capped off the comeback with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds left, and the extra point kick gave the Cowboys a 24-23 victory.

Matchup must-reads: Smith’s calming influence gives Washington hopeMcCarthy inspired Cowboys by smashing watermelons



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