Sports

2012 NFL Thanksgiving Day Preview: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys

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NFC playoff berths seem secure for Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay and San Francisco. That leaves two open spots in the bracket. One will be awarded to the winner of the NFC East, the other to a second wildcard team. At 6-4 the reeling New York Giants lead the East. The less-than-intimidating trio of Minnesota, Seattle, and Tampa Bay stand at 6-4 tied for the open wildcard berth. Neither Washington nor Dallas have played consistently but whoever wins will feast on Thanksgiving dinner firmly in the race.

The Redskins beat Philadelphia Sunday snapping a three game losing streak and improving to 4-6. Between rookie QB Robert Griffin III and first-year RB Alfred Morris the Skins boast the second best running attack in the league. Washington also defends the run. The Redskins allow fewer than 95 yards a game on the ground. Passing has been more of an issue.

While Griffin III ranks among the league leaders in QB Rating and completion percentage, his 219 yards a game through the air compare closely to fellow rookies Brandon Weeden, and Ryan Tannehill. In other words, the Redskins passing game is efficient but not potent. That's more than can be said for the Washington defense against the pass. The Skins rank ahead of only three teams in the league allowing nearly 290 yards a game through the air. Washington is last in the NFC East allowing 25.4 points per game.

As for the Cowboys, back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Cleveland improved Dallas's record to 5-5. At least for three days, two hard-fought victories have taken the pressure off of coach Jason Garrett who appeared to be as good as gone when the 'Boys were 3-4 and had lost four times in a span of five games. That being said Dallas has shown no ability to run the ball and QB Tony Romo has been uneven at best. Romo ranks among the top 10 in the NFL in passing yards and completion percentage, but his 13 interceptions are the second most in the league. The Cowboys have 20 giveaways this year and are minus nine in turnover margin.

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Dallas has had Washington's number recently winning six of the last seven meetings. The two teams will square off again during the final weekend of the season. The Cowboys have won five of their last six Thanksgiving Day games. Washington has lost to the 'Boys in each of their six Thanksgiving matchups. The Redskins lone Thanksgiving win was against Detroit in 1973. Both the winner and loser will probably eat turkey after the contest, but only the victor can realistically dream of the playoffs. A dream topped off nicely with pumpkin pie.