Cowboys vs Commanders: Key matchups and X-factors with the NFC East title on the line

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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The Dallas Cowboys regular-season finale is finally here, and it just so happens to be against their bitter rival, the Washington Commanders with the NFC East title on the line. The Cowboys win and they take the division title and the second seed in the NFC Playoffs, guaranteeing them a home game. The Commanders will be looking to play spoilers and the Philadelphia Eagles will be hoping the Commanders can pull off the upset victory, like the one the Arizona Cardinals were able to do against them last week so they can win the division and get the second seed.

The Commanders coaching staff looks like they are going to be shown the door after this season, but the players sure do as they are going to want to put good game tape out for the next head coach in the hopes of staying on the team next season. So, the Cowboys can’t sleep on this team and think they are just going to see the Commanders roll over and make things easy for Dallas and they need to make sure they account for these matchups in this game if the Cowboys risk falling to a team far below .500 this season much like the Eagles did this weekend.

3 key Cowboys offensive matchups vs Commanders

T.J. Bass vs Daron Payne

The injury to Tyler Smith couldn’t have come at a worse time but luckily the Cowboys found out that the injury could allow him to play the Cowboys’ coaching staff has been very cautious with injuries this season which means the next man up is T.J. Bass. Bass has seen action throughout this season and has performed well on the field. This week he will be facing off against the best defensive tackle duo in the NFL Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen in a must-win game for the Cowboys. In this instance, he will most likely see a lot of Payne whose blend of speed and power has been effective in helping him tally five sacks and 13 pressures this season.

Bass has shown that he can handle tough matchups in the past but with the Commanders trading away their two best pass rushers they been looking to their defensive tackles to generate a push up the middle and that means Bass is in for a healthy dose of Payne with Allen sprinkled in against the rookie.

Tony Pollard vs Tony Pollard

I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen Tony Pollard run the football and run right into his offensive line’s rear ends after clear hesitation at the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys offensive line has been creating holes all season because Rico Dowdle hasn’t had any problems picking up yards on the ground. If the Cowboys want to make this game easier on Dak Prescott, then Pollard needs to become the 2022 Pollard, the running back that saw a hole and hit the gas and gashed defenses for large gains.

Right now, Pollard is rushing for 4.0 yards per carry, last season he was at 5.2 yards per carry and was running with much more confidence than he is this season. If the Cowboys want to make a push in the playoffs, they need their running game to come alive and that means Pollard needs to run with a lot less hesitation, if not the Cowboys aren’t going to get far. This final game is a get-right game for Pollard or it’s time to start Dowdle in the playoffs.

CeeDee Lamb vs Quan Martin

The Commanders' best cornerback Kendall Fuller is dealing with an injury but that’s not where I see the Cowboys attacking this secondary especially if they intend to double CeeDee Lamb in this game. To counter that the Cowboys have used Lamb in the slot, a spot he’s been highly productive in since he entered the NFL. That means that he’ll be matched up against safety/cornerback Quan Martin who’s been targeted 21 times with receivers catching 19 of those passes and an average of 13.8 yards per reception.

The Cowboys would be idiotic not to target Martin in this game with Lamb in order to make things easier for Prescott and Lamb in order to try and put this game away early in order to start resting their starters. If Prescott can get the protection he needs upfront look for him to target Martin anytime he’s covering Lamb, he might target Martin regardless of who is lined up across from him in this game.