Any opinions expressed in this article do no necessarily reflect the opinions of the team.
The Washington Football Team will get another shot against the Dallas Cowboys on the road in primetime. Here are some players who could have pivotal roles in Round 2.
The offensive line
Micah Parsons was a habitual menace for Washington's quarterbacks in the Week 14 matchup. He forced two sacks in the 27-20 victory; one resulted in the fumble returned for a touchdown, while another stalled a Washington drive. The offensive line will need to put together one of its best performances to bottle up Parsons.
The two sacks Parsons had against Washington is on par with how the rookie has played all year. He leads his team with 12 sacks; he has at least one in six of the last seven games. That has helped him earn the highest pass-rushing grade by Pro Football Focus for a linebacker.
Washington has allowed six sacks during its two-game losing streak, but its offensive line is still considered one of the best in terms of protecting its quarterbacks. The unit is third in the NFC in terms of pass-blocking grade, per PFF. Charles Leno is third among all tackles in pass-blocking grade.
Parsons is going to come after the quarterback. Sunday night will be a chance for the offensive line to redeem itself after allowing four sacks in Week 14.
The Washington Football Team travelled to Philadelphia to take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field and was defeated, 27-17. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Montez Sweat was sorely missed while he was out five games with a jaw injury and being on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. On Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, he reminded people why he's one of the team's best defenders.
Sweat finished with three tackles and a quarterback hit, but his impactful play came in the form of a seven-yard strip-sack on Jalen Hurts, allowing Landon Collins to return a fumble for 23 yards. The offense then turned that into a field goal to extend its lead.
The Cowboys currently have the most productive offense in the league, but they have shown that they can make mistakes at critical moments. In Week 14, Cole Holcomb turned one of those misfires into a pick-six that gave Washington a chance to come back in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Ron Rivera praised Sweat and his conditioning while he was out, and he flaunted his skills in his first game back. Sweat will need to put forth more of that against a Cowboys team that has won the last three games.
J.D. McKissic is currently on the Reserve/Injured list. Antonio Gibson is dealing with a toe injury and listed as a "did not participate" in Wednesday and Thursday's injury reports. In order to win out and give itself a chance at the playoffs, Washington must rejuvenate its running game. That's where Jaret Patterson will need to step up, if called upon.
Patterson hasn't had too many opportunities on offense; he's only had double-digit snaps in four games thus far. But the undrafted Buffalo back has made the most of his carries. He has averaged 6.1 yards per rush over the last two games, including 7.3 in the first matchup against the Cowboys. He did fumble the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he did make up for it with his first-career touchdown.
"I think he's come a long way. I think he's understanding his niche, his role," Rivera said. "Right now, because he's got opportunities to play a little bit more, you see his confidence start to build and you see his comfort level in terms of what we do and understanding exactly how to do it. It kind of shows. So that's a good thing for him and us."
Washington will be in a bind without Gibson in the backfield, if he's ruled out for Sunday night, but even if he is available, it will be a chance for Patterson to show how much he's grown in his rookie season.