The Dallas Cowboys face another win-or-go-home game Sunday night when they travel to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins. This is the third Week 17 win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys in the last five seasons. They lost the previous two by a combined 55 points (44-6 to Eagles in 2008 and 31-14 to Giants in 2011).
The winner of this game will win the NFC East. The Redskins haven’t won the division since 1999; the Cowboys haven’t won the division since 2009. While the Cowboys are eliminated from the postseason with a loss, the Redskins, who last made the postseason in 2007, can clinch a wild-card spot even if they lose if the Vikings and Bears also lose.
The Cowboys lost 38-31 to the Redskins on Thanksgiving, and Dallas has been swept by Washington just once in the previous 16 seasons (2005).
Here are three other statistical areas to watch:
Robert Griffin III has shown the ability to effectively deal with the pass rush and use the deep ball to his advantage this season. Griffin has a Total QBR of 97.7 against five or more pass-rushers this season, the highest in the NFL. Griffin has completed 68.4 percent of his passes against added pressure, the second-highest percentage in the league, and is one of three quarterbacks that have not thrown an interception this season against five or more pass-rushers. Griffin was 6-for-7 for 131 yards and two touchdowns when he faced added pressure against the Cowboys in Week 12. Griffin has also completed 50.0 percent of his passes on throws more than 20 yards downfield this season, the highest rate in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks. Griffin has thrown six of his seven touchdown passes on such throws against NFC East opponents, and threw two touchdowns on throws more than 20 yards downfield against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has 14 touchdown passes on throws of at least 15 yards downfield this season, tied for the most in the NFL. Romo has 10 touchdown passes on such throws since the start of Week 9, two more than the next closest quarterback. The Redskins have allowed 13 touchdowns passes on such throw this season, the the most in the league, and 18 plays of 30-plus yards. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has six touchdown receptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield, the most in the league.
The Redskins have shown an increasing ability to put pressure on the quarterback. The Redskins had a season-high five sacks in Week 16 and over the last six weeks they rank fourth in the NFC with 16.0 sacks. Over the first 10 weeks of the season, Washington’s 14 sacks were tied for last in the conference. The Redskins average a sack every 15.3 dropbacks this season when sending five or more pass-rushers, but that rate drops to one every 27.8 dropbacks when sending standard pressure. Over the past six weeks, though, the Redskins have averaged a sack every 14.1 dropbacks with added pressure and once every 18.7 dropbacks with standard pressure.