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Sunday, December 13th, 2015. You remember that day, even if you don't know it.
The Cowboys were in Green Bay for a date against the Packers, the final score of which isn't important, and it was their first visit to Lambeau Field since Dez Bryant heroically caught a brilliant pass from Tony Romo near the end of a game 11 months earlier.
There would be no Tony Romo this time, only Matt Cassel. There would also be Inside The Star Staff Writer RJ Ochoa (hey I know him!) in attendance, that's me! That's right. My Dad, some friends, and I ventured to one of the NFL's most iconic venues last December to watch America's Team (a trip that I wrote about here).
On gameday we decided that we needed breakfast so we went to IHOP. We feasted, in the middle of tons of Cowboys and Packers fans, and headed to the car so we could head to Lambeau. On the way we passed some little kids playing a friendly game of "Simon Says."
My Dad's best friend David was feeling good about this game, and he felt like letting the world know how good he felt. One of the kids began a new command, "Simon Says..." and David interrupted him.
"SIMON SAYS 'GO COWBOYS!'"
The kids screamed out, "NO!" but the damage was done. The world knew. The Cowboys are the best.
The world will be reminded this Sunday of that same sentiment. Simon Said the Cowboys had no shot this season, but here they are at 4-1... and they want more.
Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let’s roll.
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Ezekiel Elliott Catches DeMarco Murray's 2014 Performance Through Six Games
The Dallas Cowboys enter Week 6 of the NFL season with the league's leading rusher at their disposal. This statement is as true today as it was two years ago at this exact same time.
When DeMarco Murray finished his sixth game in 2014 (a contest the Cowboys won in Seattle) he had 785 yards to his name. As it currently stands rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott has 546. It's no secret that the Packers Offense has the ability to put points up, and the Cowboys will look to neutralize that with their best defense - their offense.
Ezekiel Elliott is the key to beating Green Bay, both offensively and defensively. This means that he's going to have a huge day on the ground. 240 yards, the last time an NFL RB had this many in a game was Doug Martin in 2012 with 251, would put Zeke ahead of DeMarco's 2014 through this point. It's happening.
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Dak Prescott Will Have A Better Performance Than Brett Favre's Last One At Lambeau Field
In August we celebrated the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016, and among its members was legendary quarterback Brett Favre.
The career of "The Gunslinger" is quite the tale, but he's pretty relevant this week. First off, he came out and said that Tony Romo should let Dak Prescott keep playing. This
makes sense since this is the exact thing Brett Favre did with Aaron Rodgers is as stupid as it sounds. Stay classy, Favre.
Brett Favre is also extremely relevant this week because at halftime of this game he'll receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring. Good for you, Brett; however, the last time Favre was on this field as an actual player was not so good.
He was 16/29 for 212 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. Dak Prescott is going to easily top that.
Also, it should be noted that the only stadium Brett Favre never won in was Texas Stadium. Huzzah.
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Dan Bailey Amasses More Yards Via Field Goals Than Eddie Lacy Does Rushing
So much is made about the "Dez Catch" from 2015's Divisional Round at Lambeau, but there is another Cowboy besides Bryant that has a score to settle from that day - Dan Bailey.
That day Dan Bailey attempted the only field goal that he's ever kicked at the historic Lambeau Field, and he missed. That's right. Just like Favre never won at Texas Stadium, Bailey's never hit a 3-pointer in Green Bay.
Cowboys Nation held their breaths regarding Bailey last week because his back tightened up just before the San Francisco game. All signs at this point are positive, and he's going to be a big factor on Sunday... bigger than Eddie Lacy.
I've written before here at Inside The Star about how Eddie Lacy completely owns the Cowboys, and I believe that trend is going to halt. Eddie is going to have such a low day on the ground that the yardage added up from Dan Bailey's field goals are going to be more impressive. How do you like them apples, Eddie?
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Lucky Whitehead Takes A Jet Sweep Over 20 Yards
Death, taxes, and one Lucky Whitehead jet sweep play every Cowboys game.
Lucky has had a jet sweep in each of the last three games and they've gone for 3, 8, and 9 yards respectively. The Packers know this, but they also know that Ezekiel Elliott plays for the Cowboys and are far more concerned with that threat.
While Whitehead has yet to hit even the double-digit yardage mark when it comes to the jet sweeps he runs, he's going to double that with a run to the outside of at least 20 yards due to the lack of attention there since the bulk of it will be focused on Zeke. Vamonos!
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Rookie DT Maliek Collins Gets His First Career Sack
Three of the most impressive members on the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Roster are rookies: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Anthony Brown. Only one other rookie has even played snaps on the season - DT Maliek Collins.
Collins has played well so far, just not to the elite level of his rookie classmates. This is going to change on Sunday in Lambeau Field. The Cowboys Defense has been all about surprises this season as far as who steps up, and while that man has been Collins at times it's going to happen in a collision with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #1
Remember, if you want YOUR Bold Prediction featured here, tweet it at me! It’s that simple! Here are this week’s contributions, thanks to all those who shared!
Donny is a fantastic guy and long-time contributor to our weekly Bold Predictions, so kudos to him on that.
Here we're saying that Dez Bryant is not only going to play, but he's going to hit a hat trick of touchdowns and that one of them wins the game. Goodness, this is spicy! Additionally the Cowboys Defense has six sacks on Rodgers, two interceptions from him, and Ezekiel Elliott crosses the 200-yard mark.
This is quite the hodgepodge of Bold Predictions. At this point it's not too farfetched to say that Dez plays, and Zeke crossing 200 amazingly seems so easy these days. If the Cowboys Defense balls out to this level then we need to make some more room around here because the bandwagon is going to be trying to join us in full force!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #2
@rjochoa Bold Prediction: Jason Garrett goes for a 2pt conversion when it is not necessary #AgainstTheOdds #GamblinGarrett
I love this, and it makes a lot of sense when you really think about it.
Jason Garrett has shown a new sense of boldness in 2016, and he hasn't played that hand in the last two games... mostly because he hasn't had to.
The Packers present a tough test for the Cowboys, and that might require something different. Thankfully it appears Coach Garrett is willing to be different.
Bonus Bold Prediction #3
@rjochoa Bryon Jones gets a pick of tip ball. Dez get a TD. Dak runs it in to for TD. #BOLDpredictions
Dez Bryant catching a touchdown isn't the strangest sight in the world, although it's been a while since it happened on a consistent basis, and obviously this is contingent on him playing. Should Dez suit up then I have no doubt that he hauls one in for six.
Dak Prescott has a rushing touchdown in three games this season, that's 60% of the time. Those are pretty good odds on anything in life so I like where Chris' head is at! In terms of Byron Jones... we've been looking for The Senator to snag an interception ever since he first put on the Cowboys uniform as he has zero for his career. He's due. It's time. Bring it!
Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next
Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.
The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.
However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.
As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.
Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.
The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.
The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.
The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.
Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.
If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.
Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.
Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.
Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.
I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.
In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.
Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.
Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.
In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.
If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.
If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.
What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 2
The usually competitive NFC East got off to a shaky start last week, with half the division winning their season opener and the other half falling short.
Now entering week 2, the Eagles and Redskins have a chance to begin to distance themselves from the loser of the Cowboys/Giants game, and both of those 0-1 teams are looking to "save" their season. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but a home loss within the division to fall to 0-2 could be debilitating for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward.
Regardless, let's go around the division and see what each team has on tap for this Sunday.
The defending champs opened up their 2018 campaign just as we expected: with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta sort of gave that game away last Thursday night, but if the Eagles can stack Nick Foles-led wins on top of each other they'll put themselves in a great spot to win the East when Carson Wentz returns.
The Eagles will be on the road this week for the first time, traveling to Tampa Bay to play the 1-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs pulled the upset of the weekend last week, defeating New Orleans 48-40. It's hard to imagine that "Fitzmagic" continuing against the vaunted Eagles defense, though.
Philly is a three point road favorite against Tampa Bay this Sunday.
My "sleeper" team in the NFC East, and pick to finish second in the division, looked rather impressive in their week one drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Arizona isn't a very good team, and will probably be picking top 5 in the draft next April. Still, it was a good showing for the Redskins to open the season.
Washington got Adrian Peterson going on the ground for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Thompson helped keep them on schedule offensively as well. Washington hasn't been talked about much this offseason, but is sitting at 1-0 with a game against the 0-1 Colts on the horizon.
Washington is a 6 point favorite against Indianapolis this Sunday, and has a good chance of starting 2-0 on the year.
New York Giants
Though we are just one week into the 2018 regular season, an important matchup is brewing within the NFC East. After falling to 0-1 with a home loss in their season opener, the Giants will travel to Texas to face the Cowboys on Sunday night football this week.
With both teams sitting at 0-1, neither can afford to put themselves into a nearly-insurmountable hole with a second straight loss. Since the merger 90% of teams who fall to 0-2 fail to make the playoffs, and it would be back-to-back seasons of missing out for both the Cowboys and Giants.
New York is a three point road underdog on Sunday, and it seems like most of the football world is leaning towards them and their weapons coming away with the victory.
Either way, this game will have massive implications on the 2018 season.
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