Dak Prescott and the Cowboys look for a second NFC East win to open the season
The Dallas Cowboys will be traveling to FedEx Field on Sunday to take on the Washington Redskins. It will be the second consecutive week to start the season that each team will be playing a divisional foe.
In Week 1, the Cowboys got off to a strong start against the New York Giants, winning 35-17.
The Redskins, on the other hand, were not so fortunate. Heading into halftime against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jay Gruden's team held a stout 20-7 lead. But that first half success wasn't sustainable for a team that lacks depth. Ultimately, they fell 32-27.
Dallas has won five of the past six meetings between these longtime divisional foes.
Dallas at Washington
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Dallas -5
Three Things to Watch
1. Terry McLaurin: Washington's new WR1
McLaurin was a relative unknown to a lot of people outside of Washington. After not being targeted during preseason games, the rookie third-round pick out of Ohio State came out strong in Week 1 against the Eagles.
On the day, McLaurin finished with five catches for 125 yards a touchdown. The decision to release former first-round pick Josh Doctson, who is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, seems to be making a lot more sense now, as McLaurin has taken over as the team’s starting X-receiver.
More than likely, the 6-foot, 210-pound rookie will receive extra attention against the Cowboys. But don't expect that to prevent him from making an impact for the second week in a row. Washington is far too desperate for playmakers on offense.
2. Dak Prescott's search for a new contract
The Cowboys have already locked up star running back Ezekiel Elliott, starting middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence for the foreseeable future. But Prescott and Amari Cooper are still looking for new contracts.
Those desires for extensions led to monster Week 1 performances from the quarterback-receiver duo.
Prescott completed 25 of his 32 pass attempts (78.1 percent) for 405 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the game with a perfect (158.3) passer rating. Six of those completions were to Cooper, who turned them into 106 yards and a score.
Washington made a significant upgrade to its secondary with the addition of safety Landon Collins, but his impact against Dallas' high-powered passing attack could be minimum, especially with defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (MCL sprain) being out.
3. Derrius Guice out, Adrian Peterson in
Coaches, fans and teammates were more than excited to see Guice back from last year's torn ACL. Unfortunately, he was only able to turn his 10 carries in 18 yards behind a struggling offensive line.
To make matters worse, Guice suffered yet another knee injury, a meniscus issue with his right knee. He had surgery on Thursday to repair it and is expected to be out six to eight weeks. This means that veteran Adrian Peterson, who was inactive in Week 1 against the Eagles, will be the lead back once again on Sunday and moving forward.
Peterson was the starter for the Redskins last season following Guice's injury, as he posted his eighth 1,000-yard rushing season (1,042 yards, 7 TDs) of his career. After sitting on the sidelines last week, the 34-year-old will get a chance to show he has plenty of gas left in the tank against a defense that gave up 151 rushing yards in Week 1 to the Giants with Saquon Barkley (120 on 11 carries) doing most of the damage.
The Redskins surprised everyone with their hot start against the Eagles last Sunday. Case Keenum looked surprisingly efficient while the defense held Philadelphia's high-powered offense in check — at least until halftime.
The Cowboys are not as talented across the board as Philadelphia, but they have plenty of players, on both sides of the football, who are capable of providing big plays.
At the end of the day, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Jay Gruden and company are able to hang with Dallas for four quarters, even if they have a strong start for the second consecutive week.
Prediction: Cowboys 30, Redskins 17
— Written by Clint Lamb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.