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Dallas Cowboys Clinch 2016 Playoff Spot!

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Clinch 2016 Playoff Spot! 1

The Dallas Cowboys are going to the playoffs! Winners of eleven straight games (an America's Team record), the Cowboys get to sit back today and watch the rest of Week 13 unfold, having secured their win in Minnesota on Thursday.

With the Cardinals 31-23 win over the Redskins at home, the Cowboys are officially going to the playoffs! The best part about all of this is that the playoffs have seemed like a given for this team over the course of this winning streak, as nothing has phased Dak Prescott nor Ezekiel Elliott.

With just the most basic of achievements hit for 2016, the Cowboys will look to lock up the NFC East in their next game at the Giants. With a Sunday Night Football win, the division will be there's again.

Also with a revenge win over the Giants, the Cowboys could look ahead to clinching a first-round bye and home field advantage for the playoffs.

With the Chiefs already defeating the Falcons today, a Panthers win against the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football will give Dallas a chance to play for this bye on the road next week.

With the Cowboys next game also coming on Sunday Night Football, they'll know before kickoff how the NFC division leaders fared once again - with two of the three losing creating the same scenario.

For a much more complete breakdown of what the Cowboys will be playing for the rest of the regular season, check out all of the scenarios on Inside The Star ✭ right here:

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/dallas-cowboys-playoff-berth-division-and-first-round-bye-clinching-scenarios/

Sit back, enjoy the rest of this week's games, and know that playoff football is back in Dallas.

How sweet it is. ✭

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Clinch 2016 Playoff Spot!" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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9 Comments
  • John Williams

    When Tony Romo was injured, I thought 2016 would become much like what 2015 was. A slow painful season leading toward elimination from playoff contention at some point in November or December. Since that week 1 performance against the Giants, the Cowboys have put together a stretch of games that haven’t all been pretty, but have all been wins. They are a special group of players and with the opportunity to clinch the NFC East in week 14, this team should no longer be doubted as a contender for the Super Bowl. Their have been a lot of firsts this season for the Dallas Cowboys and their rookie backfield, why not add first rookie quarterback to win a Super Bowl to that list.

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Spot. On. Thanks as always, John.

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Spot on as always, John. Appreciate the comment.

      • John Williams

        You’re Spot On.

    • Russ_Te

      Everyone thought Dak was a project with certain skills like strong arm, quick release and mobility. The book on him was bad pocket mechanics, which turned out to either be totally wrong, or Cowboys coaches got him out of those in 1 camp.

      1st preseason game against the Rams, before Romo was hurt the next week, Prescott was already showing a whole-package that had him looking like a 4th-round steal. Then it turned out that he had poise and maturity to go with the physical tools.

      Solving QB and RB in one draft cannot be underestimated. It shifts the balance of power in the league. Dak only gets better, and the Cowboys can load up on defense now.

  • Russ_Te

    Arctic blast across upper half of USA this week, reports to be gone by next Sunday. Normal December day around 40 is forecast for NYC. Dallas is lucky if so.

    Pierre-Paul injured his groin in the Steelers game today and did not go back in the game. Figures to either be out next week, or well less than 100%. Good news, since historically the Cowboys have not been able to block him. Makes up for Claiborne being out.

    The Giants defense did give the Steelers some problems in the 2nd half. They are the much-better 2016 unit that we also saw in Week 1. But I think the Cowboys will go in with the standard plan of beating them up with the ground game. I would actually get Morris maybe 10 1st half carries so that Elliott is entirely fresh for that second half.

    Even if they do a good coverage job on the Cowboys receivers, Dallas has 2 items they probably cannot handle: Dak’s run threat that showed up big in MN, and also this might be the week to deliberately toss it to Elliott in the flat or on a screen, etc. The Giants will be preaching run-stop all week, and a few of those hits could be back-breakers.

    The Giants kept using Beckham on short routes this week and it didn’t seem to make sense. If they show that again, my nickel DB might be Wilcox. Ka-Boom!

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Thank you so much for your comments, Russ. I agree with mostly all of this. Unfortunately, I don’t expect to see Wilcox back this week. Except Jones to have to come down a bit more if the Giants want to use their quick passing game. As we know, they may be able to get their yards, but the Dallas defense won’t break entirely. As always, will be up to Elliott and Prescott again – this time with a bit of redemption in play. Can’t wait until Sunday!

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Thank you so much for your comments, Russ. I agree with mostly all of this. Unfortunately, I don’t expect to see Wilcox back this week. Except Jones to have to come down a bit more if the Giants want to use their quick passing game. As we know, they may be able to get their yards, but the Dallas defense won’t break entirely. As always, will be up to Elliott and Prescott again – this time with a bit of redemption in play. Can’t wait until Sunday!

      • Russ_Te

        Just guessing Wilcox will be ready. 17 total days from when he got the thigh bruise to next Sunday.

        I suppose using Beckham at times like a possession receiver is what they do, but it seems idiotic to me. More hits on him & less downs in which he’s pressuring the back line of the D. They probably look at Cruz to do that, but if I’m a DB I want Beckham in front of me, and I get a chance to ding him.

        Eli threw 39 times & force fed it to Beckham about 16 of those today. Every time Beckham didn’t catch it, he complained about not getting a call. The refs totally ignored him, which was comical.

        They didn’t target Cruz once. So I don’t know if that means they will emphasize spreading it around for next week, or if they are locked on at this point to featuring Beckham regardless. But Eli is not playing his A game this year and the offensive wheels are wobbling.

        A big game from a Cowboys DL’er like Lawrence or Collins or Crawford, will go a long way towards the W.

Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.


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Dallas Cowboys

Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

Click image to view at full size.

The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!


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Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams

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A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPNAnd here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.

Ridiculous.

Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.


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