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I want you to focus on two numbers for a second... 0-8.
2008 was the year that I graduated from high school, and before my freshman year at Texas A&M University my Dad and I took a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. You know... "OH" kind of looks like "08", don't you think? If you just closed the top/bottom of the H it would totally work!
Another city in the state of "08IO" is Cleveland (sorry Indians fans). "The Land", as LeBron James has dubbed it recently, is home to much more than just the self-proclaimed King. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, and so are the most lovable losers known to the National Football League - The Browns.
We decided to devote part of our trip to these Cleveland Browns and their Training Camp, we wanted to see how the franchise that gave us the Cardiac Kids prepared for a season. Browns Training Camp literally happens in a tiny neighborhood in Berea, OH... and I seriously mean neighborhood. It's right out of a Disney movie.
We're walking about Training Camp, right? Kellen Winslow (K2) was there, and things were pretty interesting. In the middle of experience were two fans who stood out above the rest. They were an older couple... and I mean they really stood out.
The man wore a Joe Thomas Pro Bowl jersey, Browns shorts, and had a fairly bright goatee. The woman had a standard Thomas Browns jersey, a matching skirt, oh and she had a bright orange mohawk. They were very friendly and obviously loved football. Papa Ocho and I struck up a conversation with the duo, exchanged pleasantries, and I snagged a photo with them.
Who is this lovely couple? Only Joe Thomas' Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom. Yes, that Joe Thomas. The 9-Time Pro Bowler, 6-Time First-Team All-Pro, stud Left Tackle for the Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas! That dude!
Look how bold these two young kids are... and they're Browns fans! If they can be bold, anyone can be bold. That's this week's lesson as the Cowboys take on the 0-8 Cleveland Browns. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let’s roll.
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The Cowboys Win By The Exact Same Score From The Last Time They Were In Cleveland
Sunday, September 7th, 2008 was 2,982 days before this game. What's the significance of that day? It was the last time the Dallas Cowboys visited the Cleveland Browns (no big deal but right after I met Joe Thomas' Aunt and Uncle).
For what it's worth 2 + 9 + 8 + 2 = 21 so Ezekiel Elliott is obviously going to go off, but he'll be doing his damage in the Cowboys "cursed" navy jerseys. That's right, America's Team will be donning their away uniforms when they visit the Factory of Sadness... just like they did almost three thousand days ago.
That day the Cowboys won 28-10. It's happening again. Shabooya.
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"3-1" Plays A Role In The Form Of A Big Play From Byron Jones
Did you know that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers? Did you also know that the Cleveland Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series to the Chicago Cubs? Good.
3-1 has been everywhere in sports throughout 2016. The Cowboys are bringing one of the best 31's there is to the city well-versed in the number's magic - Byron Jones.
"The Senator" is one of the better Cowboy defenders, and shockingly has never recorded an interception in his young career. I'm not saying that Byron hauls in an interception here, but he's going to have an impactful play. 3-1 is freaky like that, just like Byron's athleticism.
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Orlando Scandrick Records Two Sacks
In the interest of keeping things chronological, I have jumped from #31 to #32 - Orlando Scandrick.
The Cowboys may be 6-1 in 2016, but Orlando Scandrick has only been present for three games. The Philadelphia win marked his first return since Week 2.
Two is a funny number for Mr. Thirty-Two. That's the week he last played before leaving for injury, and it's the number of sacks he currently has on the season... thanks to an epic one he had near the end of last week's overtime thrilling victory against the Eagles.
Orlando wrapped up the opposing quarterback once last week, but he's going to double (another two) that digit. Whatever you're going to bet, double it.
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Dan Bailey Attempts Extra Points From Opposite Hash Marks
The greatest kicking mind that roams the internet is none other than Inside The Pylon's Chuck Zodda. I spoke with Chuck on their Quick Kicks Podcast - concerning the current state of the Cowboys - and of course the subject of kickers came up.
Chuck is more than a fantastic football follow, he's an astute observer. There isn't a football that's kicked, a lace that's not out, or a squib that isn't seen by him.
In fact, Chuck Zodda was the first person to notice something absolutely incredible about Dan Bailey.
Dan Bailey is literally toying with kicking now - moving his location on XP from kick to kick to get some practice in despite no misses
How absurd is it that Dan Bailey is so clutch at extra points that he uses them as opportunities to get better for field goals? Also, how sick is it that Dan knows he has a lot of extra point attempts to use as practice?
I want to imagine that Dan is doing this out of smug arrogance as opposed to precision and detail, but that just wouldn't make sense. Love you, Danny boy.
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Ezekiel Elliott Triples His Last Performance In The State Of Ohio
The last time young Zeke toted the rock in the 'ol O-H-I-O was November 21st, 2015 when The Ohio State Buckeyes hosted the Michigan State Spartans. It wasn't exactly Zeke's finest day as he only rushed 12 times for 33 yards and a single touchdown.
How many games did the Cubs win in a row to dethrone the Indians? Three. Zeke is going to multiply that performance by three on Sunday. 36 carries, 99 yards, and a hat trick of touchdowns await the Offensive Rookie of the Month.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
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Bonus Bold Predictions
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 zeke with 200 yards dez with 2 tds and Anthony brown with a pick 6 for my bold predictions.
@rjochoa Bold Prediction right here. JJ WILCOX will have 3 sacks with a Pick Six. #BOLDPrediction #RJsfavplayer
@rjochoa Bold Prediction: @EzekielElliott runs for close to, if not over, 200 yards in his return to Ohio!
@rjochoa @AlexGelhar Zeke will get over 160 yds this week in his homecoming to Ohio. Book it
The latest Tweets and replies from Jones (@aj_bryant5188).
@rjochoa #bold prediction Zeke gets his first 200+ yd game & scores 3 TDs. Dez gets 2 TDs & we get our first 40+ point game ☺
Well, well, well. We have quite the list of contributions this week, don't we?!
The love seems to heavily favor Ezekiel Elliott so I think it's fair to say the class is of the belief that Zeke is going to fare well in his return to The Buckeye State. Also our pal Gene thinks JJ Wilcox is going to have himself a game, my oh my that would be tasty.
Basically Zeke is going to go bananas and JJ Wilcox is going to eat them. They eat, you eat, I eat, we all eat. Huzzah.
Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?
Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.
Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.
Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.
The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."
Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?
Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.
No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.
The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.
All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.
After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.
Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?
Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.
It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.
I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.
I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.
Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.
Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.
The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?
Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern
What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.
Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.
The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.
That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.
With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.
There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.
The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.
Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance
A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.
It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.
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