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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!
Could a Former Division Rival be Cowboys’ LG Solution?
When it comes to prioritizing the Dallas Cowboys offseason needs, offensive guard is definitely near the top of the list. Opinions will certainly vary, but for me, solidifying the offensive line with a new starting left guard is the top priority for the Cowboys.
I know many of you will disagree and believe the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to upgrade their defense. But, this teams success or failure will be determined by how their offensive line performs. That's just the way the Cowboys are built, which is why they have invested so heavily putting this unit together.
Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive line is set in stone, but there is currently no one on the roster to step into the vacant left guard position unless you want to see the coaching staff give Chaz Green another try.
No, I didn't think so.
With the start of the 2018 free agency just a few weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys have certainly narrowed down some of the potential free agents they would be interested in bringing aboard if the price is right. Remember, they have turned into "bargain shoppers".
There are a few intriguing free agent options who I believe could step in to upgrade the LG position for the Cowboys next season, and not break the bank. One such option is a former division rival of the New York Giants, Justin Pugh.
The former 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has spent five years in New York while playing out his rookie contract, but that time has come to an end. The Giants aren't likely to re-sign him, which means he will get his first taste of free agency.
Justin Pugh could step in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at the left guard position in 2017. He has exceptional mobility. He reaches the second level with ease and plays with good body control and footwork. He is a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme like the Cowboys employ.
Pugh is also versatile. He has played both right tackle and offensive guard for the Giants. He of course would be asked to play between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at LG with the Cowboys, but versatility to play another position is never a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Pugh doesn't come without baggage. He has missed a total of 13 games over the last two seasons with the Giants, including eight last season due to a back injury. This is definitely a huge red flag, especially for the Cowboys after dealing with the same issue with Tyron Smith.
But, this is why Justin Pugh will likely be in the Cowboys price range. Sportrac currently estimates his contract at 4 years at $23,983,847, which equates to $5,995,968 annually. I personally think that's a little low for someone of Pugh's caliber and versatility, but it certainly understandable when you take into account his recent injury history.
I personally think this is a longshot to happen because the Cowboys would prefer to go younger and cheaper, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think Justin Pugh makes sense for the Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Sadly, we can't wake up on Sundays to NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are not on TV every week for us to watch them play. To make matters worse, we'll have to wait until September to get real football from our favorite team.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about until then! For the die-hard Cowboys fan, the offseason should be quite entertaining. Free agency will begin in March, and it should be an intense one for Dallas.
They need to handle a tight salary cap while trying to add a bit of help for this football team. Recently, Inside The Star Contributor John Williams wrote an in-depth piece about the Cowboys' cap situation and how they can manage to get things done, despite having little cap space right now.
Last season, I wrote a weekly Cowboys Wishlist about things I wanted to see for each game. Now there are no games, but I decided to write a special edition for this upcoming free agency.
Wish #1: Keep The Rushmen
The front office will have one hell of a challenge trying to retain all of its free agents. The two most important ones may be their two defensive linemen. If they can keep them, DL won't be a top need heading to the Draft.
Lawrence is one of the biggest names in free agency this 2018, but the Cowboys should find a way to keep him from ever being available.
If they're able to franchise tag him, that'd be the way to go since he's only had one elite season in his four-year career and they may not want to sign him to a huge long-term deal and risk not seeing the same guy next season.
David Irving is a more polarizing player, with off-the-field issues. However, he's been a very disruptive guy and he has the chance to be a unique player. His talent is really out of this world. Keeping him and Irving would give this franchise a top defensive line for the first time in many years.
Wish #2: Pay Anthony Hitchens
When healthy, Sean Lee is one of the NFL's top linebackers. He is simply an outstanding player who's always around the ball and seems to know where the ball is going before the opposing coach even calls the play.
The problem is, he has a lot of trouble remaining available. Anthony Hitchens is a guy who's found the way to step up every time the General is out, and he's shown a great progression as a player year after year.
Lee will be 32 by the time the season starts, giving Dallas something to think about. Hitchens is a guy capable of starting and competing in the NFL. If the front office finds a way to keep him, they'll be getting closer to being less "Sean Lee-dependent."
Wish #3: Get Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas
When we talk about a potential big name addition to the Dallas Cowboys, we're usually a bit pessimistic. This team isn't one that makes splashes like this, but Earl Thomas to Dallas makes a ton of sense. Former Seahawks' defensive coordinator is now the Cowboys' defensive backs' coach.
With Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis (and maybe Byron Jones moving to CB), this team will have a promising secondary. Add Earl Thomas, and it will go from "promising" to "great" in a heartbeat.
The Cowboys could not only have a top DL, but a top secondary if they're able to get this veteran.
Let's hope the Cowboys listen to Thomas and they go get him.
Wish #4: Get Dez Bryant to Take a Pay Cut
When I started writing this, I wanted to add a "get this wide receiver in FA"... but I won't. A few weeks ago, I wrote a case in favor and one against Dez Bryant remaining a Cowboy in 2018. Personally, I would be fine with him parting ways with the team.
However, I'm aware of how hard it can be finding a replacement for a guy like #88. The biggest issue with Dez is definitely his cap hit. He hasn't justified the money he's being paid on the field as he should be.
If they can get him to take a pay cut, it may end up being the ideal scenario for the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be a very interesting offseason, and here at Inside The Star we'll continue to provide you with content about it all.
Switzer and Beasley: A Dilemma for Cowboys’ 2018 Offseason
When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ryan Switzer in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Cowboys Nation rejoiced. By some, including myself, the product out of North Carolina was considered a steal by America's Team. Taking a guy who could contribute from day one for special teams and for the offense was something to be happy about.
At the time, WR didn't look like much of a need. Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley were staying in Dallas and Terrance Williams had just been re-signed (little did we know he'd fail to score a single touchdown in 2017) pushing the receiver position down the team needs list.
But the front office had landed a very productive slot receiver from North Carolina. On top of that, they found a guy to replace Lucky Whitehead as a return specialist. However, offseason hype took over a large amount of Cowboys' fans, writers and analysts and the expectations for Switzer were very big.
Naturally, he was compared to Cole Beasley since people started talking about him as an NFL prospect. His height, skills and playing style were similar and with the Cowboy veteran coming off from a big year in 2016, people were excited for what Switzer could do as a professional football player.
But it wasn't just about the rookie returning punts and kickoffs, it was about him contributing to an offense that already had a great slot receiver. Cowboys Nation was excited to see Switzer and Beasley on the field at the same time.
That never happened.
Switzer barely saw playing time in 2017 and when he was on the field as a WR, he was limited to running or faking jet sweeps. The coaching staff misused him and we didn't get to see him get a lot of snaps until the final week of the season, when #11 was injured.
And it was that same week when we saw what he was capable of. Switz showed how talented he is and how he can beat NFL defensive backs when he was asked to do so.
With a busy offseason and a tight salary cap, the Dallas Cowboys' front office will be considering a lot of possibilities. One of them will be the future of Cole Beasley. Releasing him would free up more than $3M in cap space.
I know a large amount of Cowboys' fans prefer to see Dez Bryant gone over him, but we can't deny that there's already a clear replacement for Beasley in Switzer.
The Cowboys wanted Switzer to be a returner and a receiver for them, but if they're going to use him just as a gadget player on offense... was the fourth-round pick worth it? If you're not going to use one of them, why have two players who are very similar on your roster?
Cowboys Nation loves Cole Beasley, as they should. I for one wouldn't want to see #11 on another team. Even still, it's only fair to admit that it would make sense for Dallas if they were to say goodbye to one of their most beloved players.
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