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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!
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018
Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.
Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.
Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.
Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit
The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.
When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.
Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.
What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.
Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.
Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together
Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.
With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.
Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.
Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.
Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay
Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.
Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.
Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
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