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Let me start by saying that I'm very blessed.
I've been very fortunate to have attended 12 Dallas Cowboys games in my life. Four of them took place at Texas Stadium, six of them have happened at AT&T Stadium, one was at Soldier Field in Chicago, and the most recent four quarters of Cowboys action I saw live happened at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Where I haven't necessarily been so fortunate has been in my quest for victory. The Chicago game happened in 2014 and was a nice dubayoo on Thursday Night Football, but the only other victory happened in 2008 at Texas Stadium.
I am 2-10 all-time at Cowboys games. 1-9 at home, and 1-1 on the road. It's been tough cookies.
When the Cowboys host the Bengals this Sunday, like Michael Jackson once beautifully sang... I'll be there.
The good news? My lone victory in the Lone Star State happened on October 5th, 2008. It was Week 5, the Cowboys were 3-1, and the opponent they bested was the Cincinnati Bengals.
That's right. I own this team!
Thanks to the 2002 Divisional Realignment opposite conference teams meet once every four years, which means the Bengals travel to Dallas only once every eight years. Eight in Spanish is ocho. I am RJ Ochoa, host of OchoLive, and I am obviously the boldness needed for the Cowboys to win at home against the Bengals.
The score on October 5th, 2008 was 31-22 in favor of the Cowboys. So consider this a Bold Prediction that precedes my Bold Predictions... the Cowboys will beat the Bengals on Sunday.
How's that for bold?
Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
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Jason Witten Will "Scamper" In For A Touchdown From More Than 15 Yards Out
There are few things in life that age as finely as Jason Witten. Old Man #82 is seemingly as efficient as he's always been, although it does seem as though he's averaging one weird penalty per game. Hey, no one's perfect.
Another thing that's glaringly obvious about Jason Witten is that he is... so... slow. It's actually kind of adorable.
A point in time existed where a 15-yard score from Witten wouldn't be that surprising, but now it is. Not only is Witten going to score his first touchdown on Sunday, but he's going to do it while moving ever so slowly into the endzone from at least 15 yards out.
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The Cowboys Defensive Line Will Out Sack The Bengals Defensive Line
Rod Marinelli's group of Defensive Linemen typically refers to themselves as the "rushmen." They've accumulated four sacks through as many games, and that is actually not as bad as Cowboys Nation expected. The Cincinnati Bengals "rushmen" come into town with nine sacks to their name. That's only 125% more than the Cowboys, no big deal.
There's a lot to consider here. Dak Prescott is far more mobile than Andy Dalton, and Ezekiel Elliott is far better in pass protection than either Gio Bernard or Jeremy Hill. Additionally the Cowboys are getting their best pass-rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence, back. This is going to make things particularly spicy, hopefully for Andy Dalton.
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David Irving Will Block A Field Goal
It was another game that I attended, last season's home contest against the Seattle Seahawks, when David Irving made his newfound presence on the Cowboys felt by blocking a Seattle Field Goal attempt.
We've already gone over how I'll be at the game this Sunday, but what we need to discuss is how David Irving has already come close to batting down a Field Goal attempt this season.
Take a look at 'ol #95 here. He is dangerously close to getting his mitt on that football. Are you paying attention, Cincinnati? This is happening!
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Dak Prescott Will Hit Brice Butler For A 40+ Yard Gain
The Bengals boast one of the finer defensive units in the NFL, but it seems to have a pretty obvious and glaring weakness... the deep ball.
Two weeks ago Denver's Emmanuel Sanders scored on a 41-yard play. His teammate Demaryius Thomas scored from 55 yards out. Last Thursday night Miami's Kenny Stills housed a deep bomb from Ryan Tannehill for a 74-yard score. Cincy can be had through the air in this regard.
It's made too much sense for Dak Prescott and Brice Butler to connect deep for a while now. We saw it happen in the Dolphins preseason game, for crying out loud. Butler's speed and athleticism are certainly on par with Sanders, Thomas, and Stills... couple that with Dak's big arm and we've got the recipe for a big-time gain in the air.
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Dak Prescott And Ezekiel Elliott Will Tame The Tigers By Gaining More Yards Than Any Other QB/RB Combo This Week
First of all, Sig and Roy do a great job (generally) of taming tigers. Bengals are tigers. Bam! Secondly, Sig and Roy do what they do where a big show is common - Las Vegas. Dak and Zeke are a Vegas-level show as far as the NFL is concerned.
The show is going to be filled with lights and action this week, folks. Dak, thanks to his big gain to Brice we predicted, and Zeke - currently leading the league in rushing - will combine for more yards than any other quarterback and running back duo across the NFL in Week 5. Lock it up and put it in a box. Siegfried and Roy are about to do a magic trick.
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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!
Donny is a very loyal Inside The Star reader and Bold Prediction submitter. 1,000 points to Donny! Also shout out to Donny's Uncle who is, hard to tell here, quite the fan of Ezekiel Elliott. 180 seems surprisingly doable, especially considering Zeke had 138 last week and is only getting revved up. As for Byron Jones - love the numerical detail to this by the way - Late Night Ice Cream as I've dubbed him is certainly due for a big play. Let's make it happen!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #2
The latest Tweets and replies from Diana Villalon (@villalon2009). Program Director~Christian~Sports Fan~Football~Basketball~Baseball~Boxing~ Olympic Sports~Marching Band Competitions. Texas
This falls right in line with our Rushmen logic! I love it when things just fall into place.
It sure is asking a lot for DeMarcus Lawrence, who is also dealing with back injury fallout on top of coming off suspension, to just show up and dominate. It should be noted that when last season's top pass-rusher Greg Hardy saw his first snaps in Week 5, a home game against New England, he put together a two-sack day. It's possible.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #3
Our Austin friend here has put together quite the Bold Prediction combo.
This is like one of those things in robbery movies where you have to dance through the maze of laser things or whatever. Is @ATXCowboysFan really Tom Cruise?
If all of these things happen we need to have a group hug and go in on some lotto tickets together. I'd say the most likely to happen here is the hundred yards for Zeke, and the least likely in this smorgasbord is a two-touchdown day for Cole Beasley. Byron is still looking for that first career interception, and Tyrone Crawford is coming off of a sack last week... I dig this!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #4
@rjochoa btw my bold prediction I got the Cowboys creating 3 turnovers at Andy daltons expense
Turnovers are obviously all the rage when it comes to bold predictions, and I can certainly get on board with that.
Assuming the Rushmen do get some work in, maybe thanks to Crawford and Lawrence, then Andy Dalton is indeed going to be flustered. Tyler Eifert very likely won't play, which means that Morris Claiborne will likely have help on AJ Green. We built Pick City, we built Pick City on Andy Dalton's tears!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #5
@rjochoa Morris Claiborne has 2 interceptions. And the defense gets 3 sacks.
Miguel read our mind! Morris Claiborne, ladies and gentlemen!
I wrote here at Inside The Star on Thursday that this game is perhaps the biggest challenge Mo has faced yet, that's a pretty fair statement in my opinion. Claiborne is going to need help whether over the top or from those Rushmen we've been so high on to truly shut down AJ Green, and that's all good. This defense plays team ball which means that the sum is greater than the parts. The sum is going to be impressive on Sunday, and two Mo picks as a cherry on top of three sacks sounds good to me!
Xavier Woods Among Cowboys with Something to Prove in Seattle
The Earl Thomas trade rumors have been relentless this offseason. We've heard about them. I've written about them, and for better or worse, they just won't stop. No doubt Dallas Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods has heard them as well.
When Woods went down with his hamstring injury and as Earl Thomas continued his hold out, the clamor for Thomas grew louder and louder.
Per reports, it looks like Woods is set to make his 2018 debut. With a good game against the Seattle Seahawks, he can put a silence to the trade rumors.
I've been a proponent of making the deal for Earl Thomas all offseason. From the time he came running down the tunnel toward the Dallas Cowboys locker room, I've been all aboard the Earl Thomas hype train. Opportunities to add All-Pro players don't come along very often and if you're hoping to win football games in the short term, like the Dallas Cowboys are, you make the move.
My opinion isn't a knock on Xavier Woods, who was good as a rookie last year. He was especially good when asked to play in the slot early in the 2017 season. It has more to do with Woods still being a bit of an unknown and Thomas being a known quantity.
Xavier Woods has shown potential to be a really good safety in this league. In college, he played a lot of single high safety and played it very well. He has a knack for making plays on the football and can be a game changer for the Dallas Cowboys.
If the Dallas Cowboys can come away with a victory in Seattle, facing the player that the Dallas Cowboys have been linked to for months, and Woods has a good game in the process, then all of this will go away.
Heading into Sunday, Xavier Woods isn't the only player on the Dallas Cowboys roster who has something to prove.
Two Wide Receivers
The Cowboys added another wide receiver this week when they resigned free agent Brice Butler. I agree with Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie that adding Butler doesn't make a ton of sense, but it definitely adds question marks to the wide receiver room, in particular wide receivers Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns.
These two wide receivers were expected to be the starters on the outside and the primary targets, aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, and yet, they've failed to have much of an impact in either of the two games in the 2018 season.
Take a look at their stat lines.
- Allen Hurns: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, 0 touchdowns, on 55% of the team's offensive snaps.
- Terrance Williams: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards, 0 touchdowns on 25% of the snaps.
Those two are tied for fifth in receptions through two weeks of the season. Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson has found himself as a favorite target of Quarterback Dak Prescott through the first two games and has seven receptions for 60 yards.
With now seven wide receivers on the roster, there are less snaps to go around and with the increase in playing time for Tavon Austin and Michael Gallup, Terrance Williams may have already found himself as the odd man out. Brice Butler complicates things further for Williams and may eat into Allen Hurns snap count as well.
Now it looks like Terrance Williams is facing a suspension. If the suspension comes down before Sunday, he's going to really have a hard time finding a role on this team when he comes back.
Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/of11Xlb7wD via @sportsdaydfw
If he comes back.
Defensive End Making a Comeback
Things started out really well for returning Defensive End Randy Gregory. During the preseason he flashed the tools that made him a highly coveted player before his failed drug test at the NFL Combine.
Unfortunately the start of his 2018 season was derailed due to a concussion early in the Carolina Panthers game forcing him to miss week two.
In his place, Taco Charlton emerged as an impact player on the right side of the defensive line. Charlton has played the most defensive snaps of any defensive end through the first two games of the season; DeMarcus Lawrence included. Taco went from a 73% snap share in week one to an 83% snap share in week two. It's obvious that he's earned his snaps and the coaching staff wants to get him on the field.
This doesn't even begin to mention the contributions by rookie fourth round pick Dorance Armstrong, who like Charlton, saw a 10% snap increase from week one to week two and played really well when in the game.
This is a bit of a problem for Randy Gregory. Yes, he flashed in the preseason and early in the Carolina game, but the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and Gregory hasn't done much of anything in the regular season, yet.
Coming into the Seahawks game, Gregory is going to have to earn back some of those snaps. By all accounts he has a chance to be an elite defensive end on the right side of the Dallas Cowboys defense, but he has to prove that he can stay on the field and effective when on it.
He needs to shine in week three.
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Who are your players with something to prove heading into the week three matchup with the Seattle Seahawks? Let us know in the comment section.
How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore
You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.
In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.
In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.
And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.
The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.
Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.
Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.
They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.
Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.
But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.
Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.
Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.
So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3
Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.
Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.
Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.
The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.
Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.
As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.
This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.
Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.
New York Giants
The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.
Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.
Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.
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