1. SECOND-STRING SECONDARY

None of four Washington’s opening-day starters in the secondary are expected to play significant snaps today. Former All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman has been benched, and Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau are out with injuries. So are starting safeties Landon Collins and Montae Nicholson. That means a group of corners and safeties who weren’t even employed in D.C. a month ago will have to cover Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Jason Witten in a game the Cowboys have to win to sustain their faint playoff hopes. It’s a good day to have Dak Prescott on your fantasy team.

2. CAN HE MAKE HIS CASE?

Case Keenum began the season as Washington’s starting quarterback and might have kept the job all season had he remained healthy. His concussion opened the door for rookie Dwayne Haskins, who performed inconsistently before suffering a high ankle sprain that will sideline him today. Keenum is unlikely to return to D.C. next season, but today’s game against a team that still harbors faint playoff hopes gives him one more chance to give one of the NFL’s many QB-needy teams reason to bring him in to compete for a starting job in 2020.

3. WINNING BY LOSING

Long eliminated from playoff contention, Washington’s long-term future seems brighter with short-term failure. A loss today would not only keep Dallas in the playoff hunt, but ensure the visitors the No. 2 overall pick behind Cincinnati in next spring’s draft. That pick could ensure Washington a potential impact player at one of two positions of great need: pass rush (Ohio State’s Chase Young) or pass blocking (Georgia’s Andrew Thomas). We should know the outcome by halftime: Dallas is 7–0 when leading at the break, 0–8 when trailing after 30 minutes.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE:

Dallas 38, Washington 17

—Steve DeShazo

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