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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!
QB Dak Prescott Continues To Come Through In Clutch Situations
Dak Prescott is possibly the most criticized quarterback in all of football.
Of course, this comes with the territory of being the Cowboys starting quarterback, but each throw Prescott attempts is placed under an intense microscope, even by NFL standards. We analyze every snap of every game, looking to find where Dak was right or wrong with this reads.
There's no question, though, that Prescott has been inconsistent throughout his young career. Week to week, drive to drive, and even play to play, we seemingly have no gauge on just how Dak Prescott will perform.
One scenario where we can say with confidence he will come through, however, is when it matters most. Last Sunday, in yet another must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott orchestrated a game winning drive to lead his team over the favored Atlanta Falcons.
The Cowboys offense was pedestrian for much of the afternoon, but when Prescott got the ball in a tied game, I felt confident he would give Brett Maher a chance to win the game. Even on the road, and even after the offense had struggled a bit through the air all day.
Prescott got the ball late in the fourth quarter, looking to answer former NFL MVP Matt Ryan's game tying touchdown strike to Julio Jones. Dak went for it all on the first play, looking for Michael Gallup deep down the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete. After that throw, Prescott went 4/5 for 45 yards, including a huge completion to Cole Beasley, putting Dallas in game winning field goal range.
This confidence in Dak Prescott is justified, as is shown by his numbers in late game situations. Prescott now has 12 game winning drives, tying him for the league lead over the last three seasons. For comparison sake, Eagles starter Carson Wentz has just 3 game winning drives over that same stretch.
Overall the box score shows a rather quiet day for Prescott, but it was exactly the kind of Sunday they need from him. He completed over 60% of his passes, ran for a touchdown, and avoided the key turnover which could have sung this close game.
He played efficient football, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win it late. Then, he did what he does best, making plays in clutch situations and coming through in the 2 minute drill.
For all of Dak Prescott's flaws, those end-of-half and end-of-game situations have been a clear strength for the young quarterback, and continued to be this week.
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
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