The Washington Football Team carries plenty of momentum into an all-important NFC East matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14. Ron Rivera’s squad is 6-6 after reeling off four consecutive victories. Washington just received some unsettling news, though. The Football Team will be without defensive end Montez Sweat against the Cowboys and possibly beyond.
Montez Sweat tested positive for COVID-19
The Washington Football team was excited about getting Montez Sweat back for the matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. However, the team will have to wait even longer.
Washington placed Sweat on injured reserve after suffering a fractured jaw in Week 8 against the Denver Broncos. The 25-year-old has missed the last four games due to injury. Now, he’ll miss another for a non-football reason.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Sweat tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The 2019 first-rounder is unvaccinated, so the league’s protocols require him to quarantine for at least 10 days.
Sweat will definitely miss the Cowboys game, but he could potentially return against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15.
Before going down, Sweat recorded 19 tackles, three tackles for loss, four sacks, and two forced fumbles. The Mississippi State product is a vital part of Washington’s defense. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will sorely miss him against a talented Dallas offense.
The Washington Football Team needs all hands on deck
The Washington Football Team has battled some adversity in the 2021 NFL season. It all started when starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 1. Taylor Heinicke has done an admirable job filling in, and his play in recent weeks has helped the team win games.
The Football Team recently lost tight end Logan Thomas for the season. The Virginia Tech product suffered a knee injury against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 13. The team placed him on injured reserve for the second time in 2021, which ends his season.
The biggest loss for Washington was star defensive end Chase Young. The 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year tore his ACL in the Week 10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The injury knocked Young out for the season as well.
Washington’s defense got off to a slow start and wasn’t living up to expectations early in the season. However, there’s been a drastic shift as of late. The unit does miss Young’s presence, though. The former Ohio State standout is only in his second NFL season, but he’s already become a leader on this team.
Montez Sweat, like Young, is a fierce pass-rusher. Washington desperately needs him back on the field. Unfortunately, the rest of the defense must continue to pick up the slack in his absence against the Cowboys.
How Ron Rivera’s squad can dethrone the Cowboys in the NFC East
Don’t look now, but the Washington Football Team actually has a shot at winning the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys are sitting in first place with an 8-4 record. Washington is 6-6 and two games behind Dallas.
Even though the Football Team has some ground to make up, there’s a clear path for Ron Rivera’s crew to overtake the division leader. It starts on its home turf against the Cowboys in Week 14.
Washington enters the game on a four-game winning streak. Dallas is coming off of a victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. However, Mike McCarthy’s squad doesn’t look nearly as dominant as it did in the first half of the season.
The key for Washington is to keep the momentum going. The defense has looked great over the past four games. During that stretch, opponents have averaged just 17.5 points against Jack Del Rio’s unit. It’s been an all-around team effort, led by Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Jamin Davis, and Kendall Fuller.
Once Montez Sweat returns to the fold, the defense could get even stronger down the stretch.
Washington’s offense shouldn’t be getting into any shootouts, but the defense has what it takes to keep the team competitive week in and week out.
The Cowboys have shown some red flags in recent weeks. Making a run at the NFC East crown isn’t outside the realm of possibilities for Washington.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.