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Dallas Cowboys and the Playoffs: Just Play Saturday For Saturday

Bryson Treece

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See, there it is. That’s just the kind of statement that I’m tired of seeing when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. “The Cowboys must win on Saturday to make last week’s win meaningful …” As if to say that blowing out the Eagles last week wasn’t an accomplishment, a great game, a big win, or a stellar defensive effort if the Cowboys can’t win this coming week?

Last I checked, we didn’t take any gambles against Philly in week 17. It’s not like we’re the Colts who said, “Hey, we’re going to sit our starters for the final two games because we need them around to win the Super Bowl when we get there.” That’s the kind of situation where a later event can define the meaning of a past decision.

If the Colts don’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, then they will be looked at as chumps – honestly. Them winning the Super Bowl is going to be the difference between being thought to have made a good decision resting starters and preventing injuries, and choking any chance they had of winning, disgracing the sport by not playing to win.

The Cowboys didn’t do that. Even when we had that game in hand last week, we still sent Romo, Barber, Adams, Austin, and every other starter back onto the field until Romo took a knee to run the clock out with under 2 minutes remaining.

It’s not like with the Patriots who decided to play hard in week 17 and ended up losing their star wide receiver to an injury that would’ve meant IR for him even if it happened in the preseason. They did what they always do and went full throttle for 60 minutes on Sunday, just like any other Sunday before it.

You could argue that they made a choice to keep themselves in a rhythm and try to maintain some momentum heading into the playoffs. Well now if they don’t win the Super Bowl, they’ll be thought less of for not being more cautious with such an important player as Welker going down.

It all comes down to the gambles that a team makes this time of year – if they lose then a firestorm ensues, but if they win, they’re geniuses.

The Cowboys simply went out and played some good football. No lasting injuries, no promises or game plans for Super Bowl glory in a month – they just played some good, hard, NFC East football against a good football team.

Leading up to week 17 it was clear to everyone involved that it was a virtually meaningless game and a big game, all at the same time. Both teams had already been assured a spot in the playoffs after week 16, so there was no type of win-and-you’re-in scenario to be played out.

The Eagles did have something pretty large to play for though as they eyed the shot at a first round bye and the #2 seed in the NFC, which would come with an NFC East Division Championship if they had beaten the Cowboys.

The Cowboys started their day out with those same accolades in sight, that is until Minnesota beat the Giants in the noon game. Then it became a shot at the #3 seed and home-field advantage for the wild card round, as well as the NFC East title.

To the Eagles, who were riding a six game winning streak, that game, aside from all playoff scenarios, just didn’t mean that much more than another game against a long time foe. But for Dallas it was more than that. After having lost nine season finales in a row, going more than a decade since winning a playoff game, and adorning one of the most repugnant December swoons in league history; and after handing the Saints their first loss of the season followed by a shutout against another NFC East rival, albeit one in sad shape and merely a week away from firing their head coach, this game was a chance to go out and show everybody something we hadn’t seen since players numbered 8, 22, and 88 marched us down the field time and time again.

This was a big game for Dallas, and a huge win. It put the NFL on notice that the Cowboys were playing strong, and the shutout simply added the brief message, “Fear Us.

But that game was that game – just a week 17 regular season finale. It wasn’t a heat race, and it wasn’t a qualifier. It was a brilliant win against a tough Eagles team.

This Saturday at 7pm will be the start of another game against a tough NFC East rival, and this time there are no silly scenarios to work out, no small consolations such as a bye week or home-field advantage to play for – this time it’s for the whole season.

Lose and you go home. Win and you move on to the next round.

And then, just as now, the game preceding will not be made any less important or well played because of this week’s performance. It simply will be another game won, or lost.



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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Game Notes

#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Wishlist Christmas Edition: Seahawks @ Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.

Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.

The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.

Dallas Cowboys

After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.

Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.

Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.

Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.

The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.

Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.

Trends

  • The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
  • Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
  • Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
  • The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.

Prediction

While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.

This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.

I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.



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Dallas Cowboys

Kris Richard, the Cowboys X-Factor Against the Seahawks

Brian Martin

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Top 5 Storylines to Watch in Cowboys 2018 Season Opener 1
(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

In the NFL, wins are hard to come by. That is why teams do their due diligence each and every week to try to come up with some advantage, however slight. This week, the Dallas Cowboys may have the biggest advantage they could possibly hope for over their opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, and he goes by the name of Kris Richard.

The hiring of Kris Richard may have been Dallas' biggest offseason move. We have already seen in the first couple of games of the 2018 season the impact he's had on the Cowboys defense. The entire defensive unit has been playing possessed and has pretty much dominated their opponents. I believe Richard deserves the majority of the credit.

But this week is different. The Dallas Cowboys travel to Seattle for a Sunday afternoon game against the Seahawks, who are a tough opponent when playing at home. History hasn't always been kind to the Cowboys when playing on the road in Seattle.

In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Tony Romo doesn't still have nightmares about playing in Seattle. A mishandled snap on a routine 19 yard field goal attempt ended up costing the Cowboys a playoff victory in 2007. Then he sustained the back injury that would ultimately end his career in a meaningless preseason game against the Seahawks in 2016.

To say history hasn't been kind to the Cowboys in Seattle would probably be an understatement. But still, that's where they're heading for this Week 3 matchup.

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coach Kris Richard

Luckily, I believe the Dallas Cowboys have an ace in the hole in 2018. I think their new Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach, Kris Richard, is going to be the X-Factor. Who could give you more inside information than someone who spent the last eight years with Seattle as both a coach and a player than Richard?

Kris Richard should know just about all of the ins and outs about the Seattle Seahawks, especially on the defensive side of the ball since he served as their Defensive Coordinator the previous two seasons before joining the Cowboys. But, his knowledge of their offense could prove to be invaluable as well.

Richard has seen the Seahawks offense and Russell Wilson on a daily basis in practice firsthand. He should have a very good understanding of not only their tendencies, but what types of plays they run out of different formations. It should be just like having a spy within their own huddle.

Now, having inside information is one thing, but executing the game plan is something different entirely. Kris Richard can possibly predict with high probability exactly what the Seahawks plan on doing, but it falls on the Cowboys players as to execute the game plan.

In the end, this game will ultimately come down to which team executes better on the field Sunday afternoon. The Dallas Cowboys may have an X-Factor in Kris Richard, but he's not the one suiting up against the Seahawks. It all falls on the player's shoulders, as it always has.

Do you think Kris Richard can be the Cowboys X-Factor against the Seahawks?



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Cowboys Reunion with WR Brice Butler Makes No Sense

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Does Brice Butler Deserve A Bigger Offensive Role?

The Dallas Cowboys have brought back Wide Receiver Brice Butler, who was with the team from 2015-2017. The reunion is a head-scratching move given the team's current stockpile of receivers, and especially given Butler's lack of impact during his previous run in Dallas.

There's no question that Dallas could use some more juice in the passing game. So far the post-Witten, post-Bryant era has only seen 165 yards-per-game out of Dak Prescott and his current receiving options.

I can understand the Cowboys getting antsy about this low production. I can understand the feeling that waiting for chemistry to develop between Dak and new faces like Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup, or any one of these young tight ends, could be damaging to the season.

But when you need a spark in the offense, it seems odd to turn to a guy who was in your system for three years and never had a huge game.

Let's just look at Butler's top five statistical performances as a Cowboy:

  • 5 catches, 41 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 4, 2016)
  • 2 catches, 90 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 3, 2017)
  • 2 catches, 50 yards, 1 touchdown (Week 17, 2017)
  • 4 catches, 74 yards (Week 16, 2015)
  • 4 catches, 60 yards (Week 17, 2015)

No games with over 100 yards. No games with more than five catches. No games with more than one touchdown.

I'm not trying to slam Brice here. He is what he is. This is all about trying to understand the logic of the Cowboys' front office in making this move.

Cowboys Blog - Terrance Williams Tuesday: #TWillTuesday 2

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

If the idea was to bring in a guy who Dak Prescott had more familiarity with, then why not give Terrance Williams more playing time? He's already on the roster and buried on the depth chart, getting the fewest snaps of all the WRs last week.

If you've followed my work for long, you know I'm no fan of Williams. But even I can admit that he's been more productive and effective in this offense than Brice Butler ever was.

If you're bringing in Butler to be a vertical threat, isn't that what you signed veteran Deonte Thompson for? Last year, playing for two different teams with shaky QB situations, Thompson had 38 catches for 555 yards. Brice hasn't had a single season close to that.

What about Tavon Austin? Just three days ago, Austin had a 64-yard touchdown. Did we really need another guy for field stretching? And even if so, what in Butler's history indicates he can do something that Thompson or Austin can't?

Don't forget about Hurns, Gallup, or Cole Beasley either. They're not vertical receivers, but they're still the top three guys in the offense.

If you're a Brice Butler fan, you've likely argued that his lack of production in Dallas was from a lack of opportunities. That may be true, but how has that changed in 2018? There are more mouths to feed than ever at WR.

What is Butler going to do now, that he didn't for three years, to earn more looks?

Should The Cowboys Consider Adding Troubled WR Josh Gordon?

Former Browns WR Josh Gordon, now with the Patriots

If Dallas was really concerned about adding an offensive spark, the opportunity was out there this week with Josh Gordon. The Patriots got him for a conditional 5th-round pick from Cleveland just yesterday.

I can understand why Dallas, given recent issues with Randy Gregory and David Irving, were reluctant to add a player with such a notorious history of substance abuse. But if the no-nonsense Patriots were willing to give him a shot, why not the far more liberal Cowboys?

If Gordon was one problem child too many, what about Jordan Matthews? The former 2nd-round pick is still just 26 (Butler is 28) and had over 800 yards in each year from 2014-2016. He had a down year in Buffalo in 2017, as anyone would, and then didn't make the Patriots squad this year due to an injury.

Whether it's on your own roster or out in the open market, there seem to be profitable options than Brice Butler. The chance for him to be the next Laurent Robinson came and went; the same QB and the same Offensive Coordinator are here.

Is there really some juice left to squeeze here?

There's an old saying that, "if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any." I think the same logic applies to having seven wide receivers. There was already a logjam, and Dallas didn't even cut one of them to make room for Butler.

So yeah, I don't get it. I'm perplexed why they added anyone at all, this early in the year, while their current receivers are all healthy and still trying to find their role in the offense.

And if the Cowboys really felt that had to make a move, why the heck did they bring back this guy?



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