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Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys Point Spread - Pick

Washington Redskins (6-4 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (5-5 SU, 5-5 ATS)
Week 12 NFL
Date/Time: Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018 at 4:30PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: WAS +8/DAL -8
Over/Under Total: 40

The Washington Redskins battle the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving in a big NFC East battle. Right now, the Redskins are leading the division, but the Cowboys could pull right into the division race. The Redskins have seen a surge with a lot of things coming together on both sides of the ball, as they've taken a big step forward this season with control of the NFC East. But the loss of Alex Smith to a disastrous leg injury means they will be rolling with Colt McCoy from here on out—not the rosiest scenario. Everything went wrong for the Redskins on Sunday in the 23-21 loss to the Texans. Dallas, meanwhile, has seen some good signs here and there, without the results to go along with it. But on Sunday, they got a big boost and are now within reach after beating Atlanta on the road, 22-19.

These division rivals last played on October 28, giving us a recent point-of-reference in which to draw some conclusions. With Smith now out of commission, it makes it all a bit foggy how much it matters. Still, at FedEx Field, the Redskins won narrowly, 20-17. It was a close game, with a couple late-scores drawing the Cowboys close. Both offenses struggled to some extent. Dallas relied on Dak Prescott, who ran and threw for a score. He did, however, lose two fumbles, which were critical. Washington was able to stifle the Dallas run-game, holding Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards on 15 carries. Meanwhile, Alex Smith wasn't electric, but did enough and got a good game from Adrian Peterson to carry the Redskins to the win.

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The Washington offense had made some gains, first with the acquisition of Alex Smith who blessed this team with his efficient ball-control ways, not to mention him simply being a proven winner. Losing him is a big setback. The Washington aerial attack hasn't been that explosive perhaps, but they wield a lot of different weapons at defenses—ball-catchers with different abilities, speed, and size. Their run-game has gotten a big boost by Adrian Peterson finding another gear in his aging legs and now they really need him to deliver in a big way. The line has been playing well and they also need to band together to give McCoy a chance. And nothing against McCoy, but his time behind center has been miniscule over the last several years. On one hand, this is his fourth season with the team, making him very familiar with what's going on, but with just 11 attempts before Sunday in the last three seasons, he will need to get up-to-speed soon.

Really helping the Redskins make a leap this season has been the defense. We have seen this for most of the season and definitely the first time these teams met. Elliott was bottled up for most of the game and the Cowboys only scored 7 points until they were into the fourth quarter the first time these teams played. Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks, with other members of the Redskins' defense getting after Prescott. With Josh Norman, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DJ Swearinger, and others, they have a lot of playmaking on that part of their team. They're not always the stingiest in terms of yardage, but make up for it in other ways. There have been a few weird games this season where they were torched, but they have otherwise allowed very little in most of their games.

The Cowboys were seeing another season getting away from them, making Sunday's win big. They are not out of it, especially in a conference where no one is flying high and the leading team just suffered a setback. Still, a wild card spot seems unlikely, meaning winning games like this are big if they want to put themselves in position to win the NFC East. They alternated wins and losses for the first 7 games of the season, showing how it's been up one week and down the other this season for the Cowboys. Prescott and Elliott aren't quite what they were as rookies a few seasons ago, even as both had good games last week. No one else in the offense is really stepping up consistently. They have made gains with a defense that is pretty good—just not good enough to camouflage all the shortcomings on the other side of the ball.

Point blank—the offense isn't carrying its share of the load. The thing is that they have very little spark. Making it worse is when they need a positive development really badly within a game; they never seem to rise to the occasion. Prescott had a decent game against the Redskins in terms of overall production, though his turnovers were undermining. The O-line wasn't what it once was and that has hurt the whole offense. Getting Amari Cooper could offer some relief, but at no point this season did it seem like plugging Cooper in there would be a cure-all.

The interesting thing is that Dallas' defense has been significantly better this season—a balanced unit that has been among the stingiest in the league this season. Even with Sean Lee out, their middle has made big gains with Jaylon Smith and rookie Leighton Vander Esch. DeMarcus Lawrence is getting after quarterbacks. And while their secondary has been rigid for long stretches this season, they haven't really been making a lot of plays, with just two lousy picks on the season. But let's be fair and mention that it would be looking even bleaker if not for the fine play at times from this side of the ball.

This game has the feel of being a potentially-competitive affair. The first game was, but beyond that, the Cowboys are at home on Thanksgiving with this being a fork-in-the-road moment where they either fade in the night or maybe show signs of a late-season run. For the Redskins, it's a chance to punctuate their NFC East supremacy and create more separation from one of their main division competitors. Even without Smith, I see the Redskins being right in this game. I'll take the Redskins.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Washington Redskins plus 8 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Redskins vs. Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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