Washington is in a position they haven’t been in the last few seasons… a chance to seize control of the NFC East.
There’s a lot of football still to be played but if you haven’t noticed, no one in the NFC East have been dominant. The defending Super Bowl champs are 3-3 with injuries in the backfield. The Dallas Cowboys are 3-3 but can’t win a game on the road (0-3). That leaves the Giants who are just awful.
So Washington (3-2) could get a little breathing room is they can beat the rival Cowboys at home. It must start with being able to win back-to-back games. That hasn’t been easy for a team that hovers around .500.
“It’s been a minute since I’ve had back-to-back wins,” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. “It’s very important for this team, for the confidence of this team.” Washington Post
Washington is coming off a 23-17 win over the Carolina Panthers while the Cowboys dominated Jacksonville, 40-7.
The focus this week will be on stopping Ezekiel Elliott. This has been an issue for Washington. In his last four games against the Nation’s Capital’s team, Elliott has averaged 110 yards a game. The return of Stacy McGee from injury should help a defensive line that has had some injuries. But the key will be getting a push from Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen setting the perimeter and forcing Elliott back into the teeth of the defense.
On offense, establishing Adrian Peterson is a must. If Peterson is effective, it will open up play-action for Alex Smith. Smith is the wildcard in this game because he’s a dual threat quarterback but there’s no doubt that Washington needs more plays in the passing game. He’s been sacked 12 times this season. Coach Jay Gruden feels like it’s not all on the offensive line.
“Sometimes he gets stuck on a guy a little bit too long right now.” – Jay Gruden Washington Times
A lot has been made of the wide receivers not making plays, something that must change if Washington wants to stave off the Cowboys and Eagles. Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson leads the team in targets (31). With Josh Doctson a game time decision, it’s Paul Richardson who will need to make more plays down field.
Over the next three weeks, Washington has two division games (Dallas and at NY Giants) and the explosive Atlanta Falcons. So the old adage of “take it one game at a time” is definitely in play. But with the top three teams being bunched at the top of the division, if Washington wants to win a division title, they’ll need to seize the moment.