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The last time that the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Baltimore Ravens, they entered the contest with nine wins to their name. It was December 20th, 2008... and it was the last game ever played at the historic Texas Stadium.
The Ravens would win the game and spoil the farewell, and they would do so thanks to their rookie quarterback and big-time ground game. Doesn't that sound familiar?
I remember this loss painfully, because I was there. I watched the Ravens ruin our party, and I watched the literal "party" held after the game as Cowboys legends were honored to close out one of the most storied stadiums in professional football history.
This time around the Cowboys are the ones with a rookie quarterback and elite ground game, and if there's anything that comes close to what the Texas Stadium farewell felt like... well it's surely Tony Romo's press conference this week.
Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens is about a new chapter, a new beginning. We were robbed of that opportunity eight years ago, and we're rectifying that situation this time around on our way to nine wins. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let’s roll.
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Dan Bailey And Justin Tucker Will Cover Over 200 Yards Through Successful Field Goals
An underrated element to this Sunday's game against the Ravens is the matchup of the kickers. Yes, kickers!
Dan Bailey and Justin Tucker are arguably the two best in the game today, in fact they are arguably the two best all time. Bailey and Tucker, respectively, have the best and second-best field goal percentages in NFL History. Yowza!
Considering the Ravens are bringing a top-ranked defense to town and the Cowboys will be able to limit the Ravens struggling offense, I expect there to be a fair share of field goals attempted on Sunday. When you add up all the yardage... it'll be over 200 yards. Bam.
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Dak Prescott Sheds A Would-Be Terrell Suggs Sack
This week Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
did exactly what Rex Ryan did with Julian Edelman got creative and playfully took on the persona of "Hacksaw Smithers" to interview Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Suggs has been playing fairly well in 2016, and he's a huge reason for Baltimore's top-ranked run defense. Here's the thing though, Dak Prescott isn't human. I've seen enough football games and cool superhero movies to know that the good guy always wins, and Dak Prescott is the good guy.
Close your eyes and imagine this. Suggs tears through Lance Dunbar a la Ryan Shazier (that was sad, by the way), he opens his arms, Dak Prescott shimmies his way out of it, Suggs falls to the ground with a big Lennay Kekua hug, and Dak scores. Huzzah.
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Alfred Morris Breaks Free For A 77-Yard Touchdown
You might ask yourself... why is RJ being so specific here with a 77-yard touchdown? Why Alfred Morris? I've got you, friend.
It was a 77-yard Willis McGahee touchdown that effectively sealed the deal for the Baltimore Ravens in their victory at Texas Stadium in 2008. Wills McGahee was Baltimore's back-up running back, so it stung a little bit more than usual. It's time for revenge.
Alfred Morris got the most carries (save for the Browns game, and I mean... it was the Browns) he's had this season since Cincinnati when the Cowboys won in Pittsburgh. Considering Dallas will be on a short week following Baltimore (they play Washington on Thanksgiving) it's not beyond normal reason to expect Morris to get work.
Work your way to a 77-yard touchdown, Butler. Work work work work work.
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Jason Garrett Wins A Challenge For The First Time In 2016
The 2016 Coach of the Year Jason Garrett - yes, acknowledge it now please - has only thrown that glorious red challenge flag once this season. That lone instance happened on Sunday Night Football when Dallas hosted Chicago and Jason Garrett foolishly thought Jason Witten broke the plane. It was not a good challenge to be honest. It wasn't even kind of good.
This is seemingly going to be a rough-and-tough type of game with Baltimore's feisty defense looking to try and prove itself against the league's MVP Ezekiel Elliott - yes, MVP.
There's going to be a point where Jason Garrett reaches for that red handkerchief and tosses it out to an imaginary person running a go route, and he's going to win. Huzzah.
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Gavin Escobar Gets Back In The Endzone
The Cowboys put tight end Geoff Swaim on IR earlier this week, so Gavin Escobar (who's in a contract year, mind you) will see a lot more work as this team's second tight end once again.
For some reason Gavin Escobar fell out of grace with the Cowboys and went unused for what felt like forever. Once upon a time he was a lethal redzone threat that many members of Cowboys Nation barked over and over for to be used more.
With Swaim on IR the Cowboys aren't going to have much of a choice. The Ravens are smart and they're going to pay attention to the top threats on the Cowboys offense, and that's going to free Gavin Escobar up for a chance to score. Boo-ya.
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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 bold prediction for Sunday: dad gets nicked up a little bit and Romo has to play a few plays
Rob K send a follow-up tweet to this specifying that he meant Dak and not Dad, but either way it's spicy. The Tony Romo press conference from earlier in the week was very powerful, and many Cowboys fans are still trying to deal with the aftermath.
Despite Jerry Jones' comments about Tony Romo - stop talking please, Jerry - it seems like this team has made its choice for the present and future at the quarterback position. The only way Romo is likely to get in is in fact via injury to Dak, but that's incredibly difficult to predict.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #2
Donny and I clearly park our cars in the same garage. Terrell Suggs did indeed play around with Dak Prescott, and it's going to be awesome to see Dak return the favor this Sunday.
While we're on the subject... how awesome is the word "spinnaroo"?
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Bonus Bold Prediction #3
@rjochoa bold prediction: Dak has a TD to 3 different players, and zeke breaks a long run at some point in game
Chase here thinks Dak is hitting a hat trick of aerial touchdowns, and that they're going to multiple people. Who could these receivers/tight ends be? Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Gavin Escobar maybe? Does Terrance Williams get involved? Brice Butler back in action? I like all of these options!
We saw Ezekiel Elliott take a screen pass 83 yards to the house last week, his longest play as a Dallas Cowboy. We've also seen Zeke take a handoff 60 yards for a score. This feels solid!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #4
This is awesome. The Cowboys have yet to score a touchdown via special teams or defensively this season, and it feels like the perfect time to end that drought.
Lucky Whitehead has come very close at points this season. Let's see him finish one off!
Next Day Rant: Too Many Letdown Games Under Jason Garrett
Yesterday's 23-0 shutout in Indianapolis was one of the ugliest losses the Dallas Cowboys have had during Jason Garrett's tenure as head coach. Even though it probably won't cost them a playoff spot this year, let alone the NFC East title, it still reminds us of a painful history with Garrett's teams.
It takes me back to those 8-8 seasons during Jason's first three years as head coach, when playoff hopes were dashed time and again by that inevitable letdown loss in December.
In 2011, the Cowboys were 8-6 with two games to go. The NFC East was all bunched together, with the division title and playoffs in reach. Dallas fell flat in a 20-7 home loss to the Eagles, then got walloped 31-14 in New York.
2012; Dallas is again 8-6. They lost at home, in overtime, to a Saints team that finished the year 7-9. It robbed them of the chance to make their Week 17 finale against Washington, the eventual division winner, a meaningful game.
2013; Dallas is 7-5 after Thanksgiving. They go 1-3 to finish the year, losing to two teams who finished the year with just 8 wins each.
This loss reminded me of those years, where the team just didn't look hungry or emotionally prepared to play despite having everything to play for. For as much as we've credited Jason Garrett for his work as a motivator and leader, these blemishes can't be ignored.
To be fair, yesterday's game was a recipe for a loss. The Cowboys were riding high on their five-game win streak. They knew that all they needed was one win in their next three games to clinch the NFC East.
Meanwhile, the Colts are part of a cluster of teams vying for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC. One loss could be the difference between playing football in January or preparing for the offseason.
One team was comfortable and maybe a little complacent, and the other was desperate. Throw in home field and having a better quarterback, and Indianapolis was rightly favored to win the game.
But that 3-point spread was one thing, and Dallas losing 23-0 is another.
Other than their upset win over New Orleans, the Cowboys haven't exactly been taking on the cream of the NFL crop during this win streak. Atlanta is 5-9 and the Eagles and Redskins are both just 7-7.
This Colts game was a chance for Dallas to show its mettle against a legitimate playoff contender. They'd failed throughout the year, losing to Carolina, Seattle, Houston, and Tennessee. But that was before they got hot and got Amari Cooper going.
This game needed to be different. But instead, it was very familiar.
Once again, Jason Garrett's Cowboys couldn't seal the deal. They got outclassed by a team which, by all appearances, is equal to them in talent.
Panic mode is silly when it comes to Dallas making the playoffs. If they can't get a win over the next two weeks with the Bucs and Giants on the schedule, they don't deserve to be there anyway.
The Cowboys should still win the NFC East regardless of what happened yesterday, but now the concern is if this team is really ready for the playoffs. Because a legit playoff team just made us look like hot garbage.
In the 2014 and 2016 seasons, we've taken solace in how close those games have been. If the Dez catch had been called correctly, or if Aaron Rodgers hadn't pulled that throw to Jared Cook out of his butt, the Cowboys might have very well advanced to the NFC Championship. They were contenders, and they took those games down to the wire.
But is this Dallas team a contender, or are they going to be the champions of a weak division? Will they compete in January?
That's the scary thought that yesterday's disaster leaves me with. On average, Jason Garrett has these guys motivated to play. Even when you question the X's and O's, the team almost always seems to play hard.
But they didn't in Indianapolis. They appeared to be resting on the laurels of their win streak and seemingly inevitable division title, and that's concerning with playoff games on the horizon.
Maybe this game was exactly the kind of wake-up call that this young roster needed. This isn't 2016 again; you're not rolling into the playoffs as a 13-win juggernaut.
A good coach uses a game like this to help his team learn and grow. It's actually great for them if it eradicates any potential complacency that had set in.
But that means Jason Garrett has to overcome his history. We've been let down too many times already.
Cowboys Nation, It’s Time To Take a Deep Breath
It's difficult to find the words after watching the Dallas Cowboys perform (if you can even call it that) the way they did against the Indianapolis Colts. The team's five-game winning streak came to an end in a disappointing showing in literally every phase of the game. The Cowboys walked away from this game with zero points on the board... zero. It's the first time this franchise is shutout since 2003.
And despite such a bad game, guess what? There's no need to panic. No, the Cowboys' season is not over. No, it's not the end of the world. Even if Cowboys Twitter tries to tell you otherwise. I'm here to ask you to take a deep breath...
The Dallas Cowboys are still one win away from being the 2018 NFC East Champions.
Now, granted, the loss was definitely painful and disappointing. It would've been great to watch Dallas get a statement win on the road against such a hot team. With the defense playing lights out all year, it was odd to watch them get picked apart by Andrew Luck and crushed by Marlon Mack. Tackling was disastrous as was the lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback.
On the other side of the ball, an already concerning unit managed to scare us even more. Play calling remains unbearable to watch, Dak Prescott continues to hold the ball for too long as he refuses to throw it away, and the offensive line's downfall continues With Zack Martin out, Connor Williams didn't really help much as the entire unit got consistently beat by the Colts' defense. Not even Amari Cooper, who had been owning the NFL since week 9, was able to put up a decent showing this time around.
Everything that could have gone wrong, went horribly wrong. And yet, the Cowboys control their own destiny.
They don't depend on the outcomes of any third party as they did in 2017. Sitting at 8-6, abandoning all hope on this team makes no sense. In today's NFL, every football franchise is bound to have a bad game from time to time. That's why the Seattle Seahawks (who currently have a Wild Card spot) fell this week to the 4-10 San Francisco 49ers. That's also why the New England Patriots have suffered losses in back-to-back weeks. Even the Los Angeles Rams, the second seed in the NFC at the moment, were stunned by the Nick Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles!
It's a competitive league. It's as simple as that. If there's one thing we've learned this season is that once January football is on, any given team can beat any other on the Playoffs. The New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Chargers have all proven to be beatable teams.
The Cowboys falling on the road against a very legit threat in the AFC is far from the end of the season. It's high time we learn to avoid recency bias and stop making our final judgments on teams or players based on the last game we saw.
The Dallas Cowboys can still run the football. They have an offense capable of controlling the time of possession. And their defense is still a great unit with a quality pass rush and a great set of linebackers.
So, Cowboys Nation, I invite you to take a deep breath and repeat after me: "The Cowboys are still one win away from the NFC East title and are one pretty good football team." Seriously, the season is far from over.
On to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis
In a game we all hoped would clinch the NFC East division, the Dallas Cowboys instead got shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in one of their worst performances of the season. It was a deplorable performance in every aspect of the game and something we hope to never see again.
I knew sooner or later the Dallas Cowboys self-inflicted wounds would catch up to them, and that's exactly what happened against the Colts. They had far too many penalties and mental mistakes once again and it allowed Indianapolis to take over the game. The Cowboys beat themselves plain and simple.
Before I get on a rant about yesterday's game, I better stick to the topic at hand and share with you what I believe to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
In a game where just about everything went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys it sometimes a little difficult to find any kind of silver lining. That was the case this week after the Cowboys were shut out by the Indianapolis Colts. But, the good for me is that Dallas still holds their playoff fate in their hands, despite the embarrassing loss.
Any thoughts of sitting any of the starters for the Cowboys has now gone out the window. They absolutely have to play to win to close out the 2018 regular-season, because they failed to do what needed to be done against the Colts to secure the NFC East division title. Luckily though, it didn't close the door on their playoff aspirations.
With the Buccaneers and Giants left remaining on their schedule, the Cowboys will have to find some way to get back to their winning ways. Hopefully this was just the slap in the face they needed in order to put things in perspective. They simply can't afford another showing like they had against Indianapolis at any point moving forward.
I knew exactly what I was going to put in the section as soon as it happened during the game. The bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts for me was without a doubt their banged up, patched together offensive line.
The Cowboys were forced to go with a patchwork offensive line for the majority of the game against the Colts yesterday afternoon after Xavier Su'a-flio left the game after an eye injury, forcing the Cowboys to go with their third string offensive guard Adam Redmond. Su'a-flio immediately had to leave the stadium to have his eye examined by an optometrist, suggesting that it was a pretty significant injury.
Unfortunately, another injury on the OL for the Cowboys leaves them severely thin depth wise at the most inopportune time. Hopefully a week of rest has done Zack Martin's injured knee some good and he will be able to return to the lineup as soon as possible. That would allow Connor Williams to move back to LG and hopefully solidify the offensive line once again.
Maybe I underestimated the Indianapolis Colts offense or maybe I just overrated the Dallas Cowboys defense, but something was clearly off yesterday afternoon on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. After being so good nearly all season, they were just plain ugly against Indianapolis.
The Cowboys defense didn't have an answer for the Colts offense, especially in the running game. Marlon Mack, a solid runner although not spectacular, completely gashed the Cowboys usually stout run defense. He ran for 139 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, something that's been unheard of against Dallas' run D.
I was honestly completely shocked he had so much success. There were far too many missed tackles and blown assignments to my liking and I believe the coaching staff will make sure to focus on clearing that up moving forward. This team can't afford to let opposing offenses control the clock with their rushing attack. That's the Cowboys MO.
What's your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against Indianapolis?
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