If you’re still on the fence about who to bet for the Week 13 finale, Covers enlists the help of expert NFL bloggers to make a pitch for their favorite team. K.D. Drummond of Cowboys blog Cowboys HQ, and Ken Meringolo, of Redskins blog Hogs Haven, strap on the pads and butt heads over which team will cover the spread Monday: Dallas or Washington?
WHY DALLAS WILL COVER
K.D. Drummond is a senior columnist for Cowboys HQ. He can be followed on Twitter @KDDrummondNFL.
Law of Averages
The Cowboys have now lost nine straight games with someone other than Tony Romo at quarterback. Matt Cassel is back at the helm and he looked good coming in for Dallas when Romo went down again, albeit in a blowout loss situation. Cassel has been hit or miss on the season, but having a chance to watch how Romo conducted an offense that is completely tailored to his strengths, might have given Cassel the insight needed to function more appropriately in this game.
The turnovers are coming
Kirk Cousins has been on a ridiculous streak that betrays his true reality; he hasn’t thrown an interception at home since throwing two in the opening game of the season. In his five road games, he’s thrown eight picks, and has been a turnover machine his entire career. Thus, regression to the mean in home games is coming, it’s just a matter of when. The return of Mo Claiborne from his hamstring injury means that Dallas will be able to use rookie sensation Byron Jones in the preferred role of TE stopper. Putting the clamps on Jordan Reed will render the Washington offense reliant on a DeAngelo Hall big play, and Dallas rarely gives those up on the season.
The Big Play
Washington has been bad at the big play game in general in 2015. Toxic Differentials look at the totality of turnover differential and big play differential. It’s been a bad year for Dallas, who is woefully behind in the turnover battle, but they still rank much better than the Redskins. Washington is an insane -25 in Big Play Differential; meaning that they’ve given up 25 more passing plays over 25 yards or run plays over 10 yards. That’s a difference of over two per game. Dallas being able to limit another team’s big plays has been essential in the games they’ve won this year.
WHY WASHINGTON WILL COVER
Ken Meringolo is a writer for Hog Haven. He can be followed on Twitter @ItsRainingKen.
The Redskins are scoring roughly 10 more points per game at FedEx Field than they are on the road, and they are giving up almost 10 points less at home, leading to quite a large swing on the scoreboard when the Redskins play in front of their fans. This is reflected in their 5-1 home record compared to 0-5 on the road.
Kirk Cousins has not been the reason for the Redskins woes this season (except, you know, when he has been). He has gathered confidence in recent weeks and doesn’t appear to be destined for a letdown on national television like so many Redskins quarterbacks before him. Piggy-backing on the point above, Kirk Cousins has performed like the ghost of Sammy Baugh at home this season. His completion percentage jumps up by double digits and his interceptions go down. At this point in the 2015 campaign, the Redskins are solidly Kirk’s team, and he appears to have built up the kind of momentum that makes a brother think he can lead the Redskins to yet another memorable win against their rivals on Monday Night Football.
The Rivalry/No Romo
I know that Emmitt Smith famously said, “What rivalry?!?” when asked about the history behind the Redskins and Cowboys. He certainly knew how to ruffle the feathers of Redskins fans, but more than that, we all know how little he cared for Dan Snyder (and of course there was the matter of his dominance over us…SERENITY NOW!!!). Records aside, when these two teams get together, NFL fans are in for a treat. It is a shame that Tony Romo will miss both chapters of this year’s addition to the Redskins vs. Cowboys saga–a shame for supporters of big D that is! The combination of the pride that is always on the line when we play Dallas and the absence of an elite quarterback to defend on the other side of the ball should add up to a victory for the burgundy and gold. If the Redskins can limit early mistakes and put the pressure on Dallas’ backup signal caller, this game should result in a victory for the burgundy and gold.