December 26th means different things for different people.
Some people are headed home after visiting family. Others lay in their pajamas and watch college bowl games or movies. Of course there are those that rush to their local retail stores to exchange whatever gifts they opened under their tree the day before. The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles are using this day to play a game of football.
Some people spend the day tearing down all of the lights, tinsel, and novelty Santa Clauses that adorn their house throughout December. I am not one of those people.
Just like there is a rule as to when you can start listening to Christmas music (the day after Thanksgiving you're in the clear) there is a rule about how long you can have your decorations up.
It's still a festive time of year and there is still one big holiday left for us all to celebrate. I choose to leave my decorations up until after New Year's.
"But RJ, it doesn't make sense! Why do you have Christmas decorations up after Christmas?!"
It makes my heart happy. It's still great to enjoy the spirit of Christmas even though the actual day itself is over.
I view the Dallas Cowboys the same way.
A week ago tonight America's Team was officially, mathematically, and heartbreakingly eliminated from playoff contention for this season. The day is done.
That doesn't mean that we still can't enjoy the spirit of the season for just a little bit longer.
We here at Inside The Star all hope that you had the Merriest of Christmases and we wish you the Happiest of New Years.
Here are this week's 5 Bold Predictions.
There Will Be Over 10 References To The Cowboys/Bills Super Bowl Days
The Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills made NFL History in the early 90s when they squared off against one another in back-to-back Super Bowls.
The Cowboys won both of those contests in convincing fashion, helping to establish them as the team of the decade. The Buffalo Bills actually lost the two Super Bowls prior to the two they played against us, both of which they lost, giving them four losses in the biggest game possible in a row.
The Cowboys and Bills only play once every four years thanks to being in separate conferences. It's always a great matchup and there is no place to watch a game like Ralph Wilson Stadium.
This is one of the better matchups in terms of NFL lore, and we're going to be reminded of that all day long.
Terrance Mitchell Will Record Another Interception
A little over a week ago the Cowboys shocked all those who follow them closely when they released cornerback Tyler Patmon. In terms of roster adjustment they called up Terrance Mitchell in his place.
Mitchell made them look like geniuses a week ago when he intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick. This was the first interception recorded by a Dallas Cowboys cornerback since December 4th, 2014. Wowza.
The secondary has been a point of weakness for the Cowboys for quite some time, so it was really nice to see the team get something positive out of it.
I've called for rookie standout Byron Jones to get an interception in these Bold Predictions before, but after lots of food over the Christmas Holiday my gut is feeling Terrance Mitchell.
Always go with your gut.
Darren McFadden Will Have Over 100 Yards On The Ground
Alright class, who can tell me who has the most 100-yard rushing games this season in the NFL?
You! In the back!
That is correct! Now can anyone tell me who is tied with Todd Gurley for second on this list with just one less than Peterson?
The answer is Run DMC aka Darren McFadden aka He Continues To Surprise.
Darren McFadden has, amazingly, been the most stable part of the Dallas Cowboys offense this season. He's pulled off some big runs and five 100-yard games... all despite the defense knowing that he's getting the ball.
DMC getting 100 yards is money in the bank at this point. I'm just writing the check, he's going to cash it.
Brice Butler Will Have A 30+ Yard Touchdown
When Dez Bryant went down with a foot injury after the Week 1 victory over the New York Giants, the Cowboys traded for a receiver to give them some depth at the position in Dez's absence.
Brice Butler of the Oakland Raiders was that man and he's looked pretty good in the few opportunities that he's been given. Many members of Cowboys Nation actually believe that he could/should overtake Terrance Williams for the #2 role on the Cowboys giving them an attack of Dez, Brice, and Beasley.
Dez Bryant will not be playing in this game, so Brice is going to have a larger volume of work against the Bills. This is a great opportunity for him to showcase his talent and his lethal speed.
That speed is going to have him flying during this game and Kellen Moore is going to look his way for a score over 30 yards. Book it.
Kellen Moore Will Have A Rushing Touchdown
There has been quite a carousel of quarterbacks for the Dallas Cowboys this season.
At different times we have seen Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore. Yes, those are real people.
Moore is just the latest person to take snaps from Travis Frederick as he took over mid-game for Matt Cassel last week against the Jets. Kellen will be the one getting the start in Buffalo.
I liked what I saw from Kellen. He has an electricity about him that seems to get the team energized when he's at the helm.
I can see it now...
Kellen snaps the ball. He rolls right. He doesn't like what he sees. He comes back left. He's motioning for someone to cut back in. It's not there. The Bills defensive linemen are coming. Kellen takes off. Kellen scores. Everyone is jubilant!
Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern
Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.
2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.
As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.
Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.
Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.
Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.
Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.
The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.
Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.
We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
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