Cowboys at Commanders: A fast facts and stats game preview for Week 18

If you would have told Dallas Cowboys fans at the beginning of the year that all the team would have to do to win the NFC East in Week 18 was beat a Washington Commanders squad that was in disarray and fighting for draft position, most would have taken that. Well, that’s where we are. The Cowboys do have to go on the road to accomplish the feat, and they will be playing on natural grass, a couple of items that give them problems, Still, the overwhelming feeling is the Cowboys should handle their business. In fact, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Cowboys as 13-point favorites versus the Commanders.

Washington is about to go under a complete renovation. It feels certain that head coach Ron Rivera and his staff will be let go so the new owner can put their own regime in place. Some of the veteran players with nagging injuries have been ruled out, and there is a feeling that the Commanders front office would rather lose this game so they won’t mess up their draft position, which currently sits at number two.

The Cowboys have everything to play for – the NFC East title, the number two seed in the NFC, which leads to home playoff games. The Commanders can’t wait to finish the season.

Let’s dive into some facts and figures around the game.

Dallas won the last meeting between the two teams this past Thanksgiving. The Cowboys blew out the Commanders 45-10 and spent a lot of time celebrating in the Salvation Army kettle, including snacking on some turkey legs. Dallas has won four out of the last five meetings between the two teams, but that one loss is a cautionary tale. A superior Dallas team went to FedEx Field in last year’s regular-season finale and lost 26-6. The Cowboys should keep that in the back of their minds.

The Cowboys have destroyed the NFC East this season. Yes, they did lose a game on the road to the Philadelphia Eagles 28-23, but that was the only blemish. Overall they have a +122 point differential in their five games against NFC East opponents.

The Cowboys success this season is really about the remarkable play of Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb. That’s not to discount all the other aspects like an opportunistic defense with guys like DaRon Bland causing turnovers, or the constant pressure applied by Micah Parsons. That stuff counts. But the Prescott-to-Lamb connection has been the key to victory.

Prescott is tops in the NFL with 32 touchdown passes. If he holds that lead over Brock Purdy (31) and Jordan Love (30), he will become only the second Cowboys QB to ever lead the league in touchdown passes, joining Roger Staubach who tied for the mark in 1973. He also has made pundits who jumped on the turnover bandwagon theme from last year look silly by only throwing eight interceptions this season. His 4.0 touchdown-to-interceptions ratio only trails C.J. Stroud’s 4.2 this season.

The Cowboys quarterback has tallied a 100+ passer ratings 10 times this season, and that is tied for the most in the league this year with Brock Purdy. In Prescott’s amazing rookie year he had 11 games of 100+ passer rating, so he could match that with a stellar performance against Washington on Sunday. His rating for the season is 104.2 which is second in the NFL.

Now we come to the CeeDee Lamb appreciation time. Among receivers, Lamb is first in receptions (122), targets (168), scrimmage yards (1,757), 20+ yard receptions (29), and slot receiving yards (870). He is second in touchdowns (12) and receiving yards (1,651), and third in YAC (638). He also has a touchdown in eight straight games, the only Cowboys receiver to do that. Simply put, he has elevated himself to the point that he is in consideration for the top receiver in the league.

Fast facts:

  • Punter Bryan Anger holds the lead in the NFL for net punting at 44.9 yards and could break his own franchise record of 44.6 that he set in 2021. He also is second in gross punting yards at 51.4 which would also break his own franchise record of 48.4 (2022).
  • Mike McCarthy has 41 wins since becoming the Cowboys coach. That is the most for any Cowboys coach in his first four seasons.
  • Micah Parsons needs half a sack to reach 40 for the season. Only five players in NFL history have hit that number in their first three seasons.
  • Brandon Aubrey’s record of 35 straight field goals is tied for second for the most makes without missing a field in a season (Gary Anderson, 1998). Mike Vanderjagt holds the record at 37 in 2003. Another Aubrey fact – he has 149 kicking points, if he gets two more he would break Emmitt Smith’s franchise record of scoring points in any fashion during a season (150).

Team comparison stats:

Scoring Avg. (NFL rank): Dallas – 29.4 (3) Washington – 19.9 (23)

Opp. Scoring Avg. (NFL rank): Dallas – 19.1 (5) Washington – 30.0 (32)

Total Off. (NFL rank): Dallas – 367.3 (6) Washington – 321.1 (21)

Rushing Off. (NFL rank): Dallas – 111.8 (14) Washington – 96.4 (24)

Passing Off. (NFL rank): Dallas – 255.5 (4) Washington – 224.7 (18)

Total Def. (NFL rank): Dallas – 307.2 (8) Washington – 385.8 (32)

Rushing Def. (NFL rank): Dallas – 116.3 (20) Washington – 126.5 (25)

Passing Def. (NFL rank): Dallas – 190.9 (5) Washington – 259.3 (31)


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