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I love the National Anthem at football games. Absolutely love it.
One of my favorite things to do when I've got a case of writer's block is to stumble down a YouTube rabbit hole of my all-time favorite renditions of this glorious song (The best version ever is Beyonce's Super Bowl XXXVIII one).
My love for this song and how it relates to the NFL was born on Christmas Day 2006 (a day in which I learned that anything can happen). Let me set the stage for you.
My Dad and I were attending a Christmas Day game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles at the storied Texas Stadium. We were at our seats and stood when the PA announcer said a few Cowboys Cheerleaders were going to sing the anthem.
I stood there, hand over my heart, and took it all in. This was the first Dallas Cowboys game that I'd ever attended in person, and it was all so beautiful. The atmosphere was unlike anything I'd ever witnessed. The way the sun peeked in through the iconic hole in the roof and kissed the sidelines was like a painting. Needless to say, my emotions were running high.
The energy in my body simply could not be contained any longer. I had to get it out. My body was like a soda can when you shake it... and I was about to crack it open.
This particular crowd was hushed over and enjoying the National Anthem, so it was shockingly quiet. The only sound in the whole stadium was the collective voice of the Cheerleaders singing. Suddenly the Cheerleaders hit the line, "O'er the Land of the Free..." and held that note. When they did, I erupted.
It was like I dropped a lit match into a Texas Stadium-sized tub of gasoline. My roar ignited the crowd and we cheered in unison as "...and the home of the Brave!" came out to finish it.
My roar was so spontaneous and so bold that my Dad actually jumped. Sometimes that happens with boldness. It's unexpected, unplanned, and one tiny bit of it can cause a fire.
The Cowboys are that fire. This is that tiny bit. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
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Jason Witten Has His Best Game Of The Season
When 'ol number 82 trots out as the starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, he'll be setting a Franchise Record.
Jason Witten is making his 204th start for the Cowboys on Sunday, which will be the most by anyone to ever wear the Star. Witten is currently tied for first with Ed "Too Tall" Jones with 203 starts, so it just feels like destiny that this would be his night.
Witten has played 25 games against the Eagles in his career. In that time he's caught 146 passes for 1,592 yards and 7 touchdowns. In 2015's two contests against Philly, Jason caught 13 passes for 99 yards.
This is a squad Jason Witten has dominated year in and year out. On this night - his night - he'll do it again.
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The Cowboys Defense Will Recover An Intended Lateral That's Ruled A Fumble
This is oddly specific, BUT THAT'S HOW WE ROLL WITH BOLD PREDICTIONS.
Look, weird things happen in division rivalries. Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz is being exposed to the bright lights that the Dallas Cowboys bring for the first time, and that's likely going to overwhelm his North Dakota roots.
Wentz, who has thrown literally three times as many career interceptions as Dak Prescott, is going to try and hit a screen pass in this game... I can smell it. It's going to fall short and whatever receiver it is is going to just assume it's incomplete, but Byron Jones is going to wisely snatch it up and score a possession for the Cowboys. Boo-ya.
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Lucky Whitehead Will Catch Two Passes
Guess how many career catches Lucky Whitehead has. Go ahead, guess.
The answer is one. Lucky Whitehead has caught a pass in an NFL regular season game only one time in the history of the world, and it happened the last time the Cowboys played (at Lambeau Field). I'm here proclaiming he's going to double that number!
Lucky is becoming a favorite toy of Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan (who is welcoming an old friend to town on Sunday). The 26 yards Whitehead picked up on a third down jet sweep at the end of the Packers game served as the catalyst for why Dallas won that game.
Linehan is going to get Lucky involved this game. Two beautiful passes are going to soar out of Dak Prescott's hand into Lucky Whitehead's ever-waiting palms.
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The Cowboys Defense Won't Allow A Single Touchdown From The Eagles Offense
The Eagles have scored four touchdowns in their last two games (at Washington and against Minnesota):
- 2 were kickoff returns.
- 1 was an interception return.
- 1 was a passing touchdown.
This team is predicated on its defense and special teams carrying it, the offense is the weakest link. That's a horrible recipe for success to have when you're facing the Dallas Cowboys who are going to dominate the time of possession.
The Philly Offense is going to be on the field sparingly, and when they are Rod Marinelli's group is going to make sure it's always in a failed attempt to score.
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Cole Beasley Will Have More Than Twice As Many Yards Than The Top Eagles Wide Receiver Does
There's a lot pomp and circumstance concerning the Dallas Cowboys Wide Receivers this week, and there should be. It's very likely that Dez Bryant will play for the first time since the last time the Cowboys were on Sunday Night Football, a Week 3 contest against the Chicago Bears.
No disrespect to Mr. Throw Up The X, but through six games the best receiver on the Dallas Cowboys is Cole Beasley. The Saucemaster has been on all kinds of fire this season, and as quarterback Dak Prescott's favorite weapon that is only going to continue in this game against the Eagles.
The Cowboys Defense is going to do a great job of limiting the Eagles playmakers throughout the contest, and Cole is going to do an even better job of doubling them up in the yardage department.
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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!
@rjochoa Wentz throws picks and two TDs. Dak three TDs no turnover. Zeke over 150 yards again. Dez makes big catch. #boldprediction
Chris here thinks that Carson Wentz is going to double up on interceptions and touchdowns, eh? Well Wentz is coming off of a game where he threw two interceptions so I like that a lot. Ezekiel Elliott has crossed 130 yards in four consecutive games (an NFL record for a rookie) so I'll sign up for 150 yards as well, and there's no way Dez Bryant is leaving the stadium without a big catch on the night. Bam.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #2
@rjochoa want to get my bold prediction in before I forget: dez 3 tds.
When the Cowboys visited Philadelphia in 2014... Dez Bryant exercised his will against the Eagles with a three touchdown performance. The win propelled Dallas over their division rivals and they never looked back.
Three touchdowns is a lot, and Dak Prescott has only thrown for as many in a single game one time through six total games. Dez is definitely going to find the endzone, a hat trick of times sure would be sweet. I know Triple X (xXx) would approve.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #3
It really is amazing that through all the incredible things Ezekiel Elliott has done that he hasn't caught a touchdown.
Zeke is far more likely to hit a hat trick of touchdowns than anyone else on the team, especially if he hauls one in as a reception. The gameplan on Sunday is going to be to ride Zeke and run him down Philadelphia's throat. If that happens into the endzone three times... so be it!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #4
@rjochoa #BoldPrediction We've all seen @tfrederick72 running routes and the sweet catches. However TD will come via fumble recovery.
This. Would. Be. INCREDIBLE.
Close your eyes and imagine the situation here for a second. Dak Prescott rolls out, he hits Terrance Williams, Terrance runs towards the endzone, Terrance is hit, the ball is jarred loose, it's spinning on the ground waiting for someone, Travis Frederick lands on top of it and everything is beautiful.
This is one of my all-time favorite bold predictions.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #5
@rjochoa BOLD PREDICTIONS dak has his first 300+yds, 3+ td passing game, Zeke goes for more than 150 and defense has 3+ take aways, 3+ sacks
Dak Prescott has yet to throw for 300 yards in a single game, but Joshua here must be hanging out with Chris because they're both anticipating Ezekiel Elliott surpassing 150 yards on the ground.
150 for Zeke seems fairly easy (how awesome is that?), but I have a hard time seeing 300 for Dak... especially if Zeke is indeed running wild. It's definitely conceivable that the defense could rally for three sacks, and boy oh boy three turnovers would be delicious.
How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore
You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.
In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.
In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.
And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.
The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.
Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.
Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.
They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.
Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.
But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.
Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.
Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.
So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3
Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.
Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.
Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.
The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.
Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.
As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.
This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.
Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.
New York Giants
The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.
Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.
Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.
Cowboys en Español: La Defensiva de Dallas es Muy Real
Después de dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, una cosa ha quedado más que clara. La defensiva del coordinador defensivo Rod Marinelli ha demostrado que es realmente buena. No como en otros años, que nos conformábamos con que la defensiva dejará avanzar y cediera tres puntos hasta que se rompía en el último cuarto.
No, ahora es diferente. Este año, los Dallas Cowboys tienen presión al QB opuesto. No sólo DeMarcus Lawrence, sino Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory y recientemente, los linebackers. Hemos visto a Jaylon Smith y Damien Wilson brindar presión y sobre todo, llegar a sus objetivos.
Los linebackers no han brillado sólo en esto, sino en otros ámbitos defensivos, como cobertura aérea y más. Incluso Joe Thomas ha logrado mantener su nivel que vimos en pretemporada cuando se le ha pedido entrar al campo.
Y en cuanto a la secundaria, no podríamos estar más agradecidos con la actuación de nuestros cornerbacks. Byron Jones está jugando a un nivel increíble. La semana pasada, Eli Manning sólo se atrevió a lanzar el balón en su dirección en cinco ocasiones. En esas cinco, consiguió sólo un pase completo para cero yardas. Chidobe Awuzie también ha tenido un gran inicio al 2018, manteniendo un nivel de juego consistente y efectivo. Estamos hablando de que el domingo pasado, estos dos cornerbacks se enfrentaron a uno de los mejores WR en la NFL, Odell Beckham Jr.
Finalmente, la posición de safety se ha visto como la unidad más débil en la defensiva. Jeff Heath es un titular promedio y Kavon Frazier tiene mucho camino por recorrer. Afortunadamente, hay esperanza de que Xavier Woods regrese de lesión este domingo.
A pesar de que en el 2016 todos veíamos a la ofensiva como nuestro futuro, es sorprendente el nivel que ha mostrado la defensiva. Es más agresiva, más efectiva y más confiable que en otros años. No podemos subestimar la llegada del coach Kris Richard al equipo.
Sobre todo después de que en el partido contra los New York Giants y los Carolina Panthers se demostró que Richard está involucrado directamente con las decisiones de las jugadas que se ejecutarán en el campo. Incluso Marinelli no tuvo problemas admitiendo que efectivamente, Richard estaba ganándose un rol en este aspecto.
Esto es muy relevante para los Dallas Cowboys, pues una de las cosas más destacadas que hemos visto las últimas semanas es el usaje de cargas o "blitzes" especiales en varias oportunidades. Incluyendo tercer down y largo.
Es algo que no habíamos visto nunca con el conservador Marinelli y que claramente es producto de Richard. Este personaje que viene de los Seattle Seahawks continua emergiendo como un candidato real al puesto de coordinador defensivo en el 2019 o quien sabe, quizá sea nombrado head coach si las cosas comienzan a ir mal para este equipo.
Sin duda alguna, la defensiva ha demostrado que es muy confiable y real. Es tiempo de que la ofensiva de Dallas responda a esto y comience a mover más las cadenas y sobre todo, aprovechar las oportunidades que tengan de anotar touchdowns. Empezar a depender de goles de campo nunca sale bien.
Sobre la llegada de Brice Butler
Increíblemente, Brice Butler regresó a los Dallas Cowboys, incluso después de todos los comentarios que hizo en ciertos programas de televisión. La primera reacción al respecto fue de confusión; ¿por qué regresar con un receptor que nunca fue tan especial y que habló tanto de Dallas?
La respuesta a esta pregunta se esclareció un poco este jueves por la noche cuando surgieron los rumores de que Terrance Williams, quien fue arrestado en el offseason por intoxicación pública, podría ser suspendido pronto por la NFL.
Esto probablemente no sucederá antes del partido de la semana 3, pero de todas maneras explica mucho sobre el último movimiento de los Cowboys.
En un partido bastante cerrado, creo que la defensiva de los Dallas Cowboys hará lo suficiente para llevarse la victoria. Es de suma importancia derribar a Russell Wilson y sobre todo, que la ofensiva tenga su mejor actuación de la campaña. La defensiva de Seahawks es bastante efectiva y no será sencillo vencerlos.
Marcador: Dallas Cowboys 21 - Seattle Seahawks 17
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