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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.
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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