After a Thanksgiving Day loss, it appeared any chance the Dallas Cowboys had of winning the NFC East would have included a Week 17 road win against the Washington Redskins. But after three straight victories, combined with three straight losses by Philadelphia, Dallas enters Sunday's matchup with the division crown already locked up. Still, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett expects his healthy starters to play in the regular-season finale.
“Our football team — we need to play,” Garrett said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We need to go play and play well. It starts with practice. It starts with our preparation, and then when the game starts go play as well as you can play.” The Cowboys, who have averaged 40.3 points during their winning streak, can still get a first-round bye, although the scenarios are fairly unlikely. The Redskins, meanwhile, are wrapping up their fifth losing season in the last six years.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cowboys -6.5. O/U: 49.5
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (11-4): Last Sunday's 42-7 rout of Indianapolis featured big performances from Tony Romo (18-of-20, four touchdowns) and Jason Witten (seven catches, 90 yards, TD). During the three-game winning streak, Romo has 10 touchdowns without an interception and has completed 79 percent of his passes. "He's the MVP," said receiver Dez Bryant, who caught his league-leading 14th touchdown last weekend. "Look at the performance. He's giving 'em hell in December. Icing on the cake. Give it to him. He's doing a hell of a job." Playing with a surgically-repaired left hand, DeMarco Murray ran for a season-low 58 yards and managed 2.6 yards per carry for the second straight week, although he did find the end zone for the fifth time in his last four games.
ABOUT THE REDSKINS (4-11): Washington did Dallas a big favor last Saturday by defeating Philadelphia, snapping a six-game skid to win its first game since Oct. 27, when it defeated Dallas 20-17 in overtime. DeSean Jackson had 136 receiving yards in that contest and is coming off another big game, having racked up 126 yards against his former team last weekend. Robert Griffin III, despite a mildly sprained shoulder, will get one final start to audition for 2015 as he enters Week 17 with three touchdowns and four interceptions during another injury-plagued season. “I think it’s obvious I have a great respect for Robert and what he does,” coach Jay Gruden said. “I think everybody has a genuine respect for what he does as a football player and what he’s gone through. He’s just got to continue to build off his performance.”
1. With a win, Dallas will go undefeated in December for the first time since 1993.
2. The Cowboys allowed one rushing yard on 10 carries last week and rank ninth in the NFL against the run.
3. Murray needs 29 yards to break Emmitt Smith's franchise record of 1,773 rushing yards set in 1995.
PREDICTION: Redskins 23, Cowboys 21