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'Twas the Night before Kickoff, the season's been flyin'
Here we are, Christmas Day, about to tame the Lions
Since this team last felt joy, it sure has been a while
Yet here we are celebrating an NFC East title
The Cowboys have rookies, of the type you'd never believe
Dak and Zeke have taken us, to the number one seed
Coach Garrett is the man, I will continue to say
A red-haired coaching genius, who takes things day by day
Get to 13 wins, in this means to an end
During Monday Night Football on ESPN
This is a time for the best, you cannot be meek
Run, score, and fight, don't forget to feed Zeke
We've learned a lot of lessons, especially never to settle
Fight till the end, and jump into a red kettle
If you need an epic win, one man can answer the call
His name is Prescott, and he can sure Dak the Halls
It's now time to begin, some interesting premonitions
Welcome to a Christmas Edition, of my 5 Bold Predictions
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The Lions Game Is A Culmination Of 9-4
When the Cowboys welcome the Detroit Football Club on Monday Night Football they'll be doing so with a player that hasn't seen the field in almost a full calendar year - Randy Gregory. While the expectations from young Gregory shouldn't be too high - and his status is very ambiguous thanks to the NFL - he's going to play and we should be thankful for that.
Upon being drafted by America's Team, Randy Gregory was given the iconic #94 jersey that once belonged to Dallas Cowboys Legends Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware. This is a tactic that worked out well with Dez Bryant after he slipped the spectacular #88 over his rookie shoulders, recognizing the number and team's legacy.
Dak is the firmly-anointed starter so that's not shocking, but given the events from around the NFL on Christmas Eve you can sense that Romo might be given one quarter of work potentially in this game. 9-4!
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Byron Jones Starts A Streak Of Interceptions
Last week the Cowboys secured a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a more important achievement was made - Byron Jones' first career interception!
"Late Night Ice Cream" - as I have dubbed him - wrapped his hands around an opposing quarterback's pass for the first time ever during a last-second play at the end of the first half. This is something that Cowboys fans have been longing for for quite some time, so it was great to see it finally happen.
Get the spoons ready, because Late Night Ice Cream is starting a streak of consecutive games with an interception. Late Night Ice Cream!
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Every Active Cowboys Running Back Gets At Least 5 Carries
The NFC East Champions find themselves in an interesting predicament that will, as it currently is even in this same article, be discussed a lot - how much should they rest their starters?
The next game of importance for this football team will come, at the earliest, on Saturday, January 14th. That's quite a ways away. Given that this team has one of the most dynamic players in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, it's fair to assume that some tolerance will be made for the notion of resting him.
Look for Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar - or whoever the other active running backs are - to get some work in an effort to alleviate Zeke's workload. Five carries apiece, Santa!
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Zeke And The Offensive Line Are Compared To Santa And His Reindeer
If you've made it this far into this then you really deserve one of these - Merry Christmas!
As it is Christmas season, Christmas magic and decorations and treats and presents are in the air! These presents are so prominent that even Ezekiel Elliott got into the mood when he gave his offensive line ATVs on Friday.
There's a comparison considering the time of year concerning Zeke and his Offensive Line that's just too easy to make, Zeke is Santa and the linemen are his reindeer. Any seasoned pro in the broadcast booth is going to see that and run (or fly) away with it.
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Don Meredith's Famous "Turn Out The Lights" Is Referenced
From their inception in 1960 through 1968, the Dallas Cowboys boasted one of the best and most iconic figures in their long-standing history at the all-important quarterback position - Don Meredith.
"Dandy" Don was as legendary as they come, and he furthered that legend after his playing career in the broadcast booth. Meredith became a staple on Monday Night Football and developed a signature catchphrase of sorts by singing a Willie Nelson line, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."
The Cowboys/Lions game will serve as 2016's Monday Night Football finale - can you believe that?! - and therefore will call for an essence of good-bye. ESPN will still have some playoff coverage, but it won't be the same. The moment is too perfect to not drop Dandy Don's signature line as the MNF season comes to a close.
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Bonus Bold Predictions
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 Predictions - Escobar TD catch, Irving sack/fumble, and the home crowd goes wild when Tony Romo trots onto the field.
RANDY Gregory is gonna get 2 sacks against the Lions. AND one of them is to win the game, 2014 playoffs DLaw style.
@rjochoa got that link to the article the other day? And my bold prediction is that Romo throws a touchdown Monday
Also on Facebook, Tyler Spence says:
- Byron Jones not only has his 2nd career INT, but it's a pick 6
- Terrance Williams also goes for a 65 yard TD in this one, similar to how he dominated Detroit in the playoff game 2 years ago
I like the callbacks to the 2014 Wild Card win over Detroit here! Santa is obviously an Inside The Star reader, so these will undoubtedly come true.
Merry Christmas from all of us here at Inside The Star to you and yours. Go Cowboys!
Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army
It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overreaction in the NFL, and fans and the media alike can be very fickle. Thus, when the Dallas Cowboys were beaten by the Carolina Panthers in week one the discussions surrounding their title credentials began, and even more so because Dak Prescott and his Cowboys offense was only able to score 8 points. He left the stadium still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season and wondering what went wrong.
By all accounts, Prescott wasn’t great, and his quarterback rating of 81.1 reflects that. His performance left the fans concerned and some asserting there were no shades of the Prescott of 2016. Nonetheless, a quarterback has to be helped by his offensive line, and allowing him to get sacked six times shows that improvement is needed up front.
In week 2, against the New York Giants, Prescott started the game with a booming 64-yard touchdown pass to WR Tavon Austin on the first series of the game. It was a play four whole quarters of football in the making and made fans explode in celebration following the lackluster performance against CAR. Prescott's rating jumped to 95.4 and he wasn't sacked during the contest. Even still, he threw the ball for 10 fewer yards than in week 1 and was 1.5% less on his completion percentage too.
Prescott’s best defense is the Cowboys' lack of stand-out wide receivers. The loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – neither of whom has adequately been replaced – is the biggest cause of this perceived fall from grace. Those departures have undeniably created a problem, but one that many great quarterbacks over the years have managed to overcome.
While the doom and gloom felt by Cowboys Nation after week 1 has abated some with a victory over New York, for a franchise that has enjoyed the often wow-worthy play of Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has a way to go yet, to say the least.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
The current situation is difficult for the Cowboys, but there are also psychological mitigations. One of these is their presence in a division with the reigning Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles.
This has long since put the Cowboys on the back foot in the futures betting markets, with an average moneyline price of +210 that makes them the least likely team to win the NFC East division. Unlike betting on individual games themselves, the futures market is a starker reflection of a team's form, rather than the more reactionary moneyline prices on individual games.
Criticism, from experts and fans alike, always intensifies after a defeat, and starting the season off at 1-1 isn't always enough to overcome said criticism. So too will the moneyline price of the Cowboys besting the Eagles lengthen, although the rewards for keeping faith in the Cowboys to do that – if they somehow do – will be all the more greater if they proceed to underachieve.
On this episode, we are joined by Jon Cassel, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, to discuss each team in the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles) going into the 2018 season. SUBSCRIBE to T2F for more football content! SUPPORT us through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Time2Football Follow us on social media!
Dak Prescott Needs Support Like Never Before
The likes of Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be reaching the Hall of Fame, but they are more than capable of helping Dallas score more than 8 points in a game. Take away the opening-drive shot from week 2, the only TD pass Dak has thrown in 2018, and the Cowboys scored just 13 points against the Giants. It's hardly confidence inspiring, yet.
There have been numerous points so far where the Prescott of 2016 would have found the receiver, but for whatever reason, those throws just aren’t being made with any consistency right now. That is especially bad considering the breathing room that is given by an elite level running back, which can be found in the form of Ezekiel Elliott.
Zeke got the ball 15 times for 69 yards against CAR and 17 times for 78 yards against NYG, both of which have to be less than he would have liked. Yet, the Panthers were out to stop him, specifically, and the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t cope, which allowed Elliott to lack effectiveness and their quarterback to be put to the ground half a dozen times. The opening drive against the Giants certainly helped alleviate pressure on Prescott, but it's clear that the defense beat the Giants, overall.
These, however, are problems that an offensive coordinator needs to overcome, and Scott Linehan didn’t cover himself in glory either.
Ultimately, above all else, there seems to be a bit of disunity within the offense. The receivers feel unloved, the running backs face a lot of defenders on each play, and the quarterback must improve his accuracy.
These situations are where you need creative play calling and a unique approach.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Spirit of 2016 Can Still Make an Impact
With every defeat, the next game is hugely important, in the mind if not on paper. If the Cowboys can step up and convincingly rack up some wins, then – as ever – it will start to go quiet.
One aspect that sometimes goes overlooked is the defense. Conceding 16 points against Carolina and 13 against New York should usually be more than low enough to secure a win. Thus, if the Cowboys keep up that level of performance, then they should win a lot more games than they lose. But that's because most offenses in the NFL are capable of scoring 20-or-more points a game. With the Cowboys defense performing as they have been thus far, the onus is on the offense the close out games.
There's a reason the quarterback position is regarded far above all others, and Prescott needs to carry the team with him to keep that winning feeling in the Cowboys’ locker room.
He needs to give the opposition’s defensive line more to think about, and make them fear the pass as much as Elliott’s or his own rushing ability. That will give his receivers more confidence and Elliott more space. If his offensive line isn’t doing its job then he and Linehan need to think of ways to get the ball out quickly and on target.
Doom and gloom often surrounds any first loss of a season, but if Prescott and Elliott can work together as they did in their first win of the season, then it’s going to be very hard to beat them, especially if their defense keeps playing to such high standards as they have.
Regardless, the Super Bowl is anything but a lock at this point, and the problems need to be fixed quickly, before "distant" becomes mathematically "impossible."
Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?
In a somewhat confusing move, the Dallas Cowboys decided to re-add Wide Receiver Brice Butler to the roster in order to get something more out of the passing game, which to be honest has been pretty putrid in the first two games of the 2018 season. Something needed to be done, but I'm not sure that Butler is the answer.
I'm going to agree with my fellow Staff Writer, Jess Haynie, in saying that the Cowboys decision to reunite with Brice Butler makes no sense. Jess is actually much more polite than I would've been when I initially found out about this transaction. I personally hate the move and I'm not afraid to say it. But ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make and the only thing that really matters here is whether or not Butler can help improve the passing game?
With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys receivers, Butler's addition just adds another one. Unfortunately, we are two games into the 2018 season and the receiver position still remains the biggest unknown. No one has really stepped up their game and with the exception of Tavon Austin's touchdown catch last week, there hasn't been any big plays in the passing game.
I don't really know how Brice Butler is supposed to improve things. Is he supposed to be the "go to" receiver now? Is he any better than what the Cowboys already have on the roster? Or, will he end up being more of a progress stopper? Like I said, he just adds more questions to be answered.
I for one don't see any upside in adding Butler. Yes, Quarterback Dak Prescott has a bond with him, but nothing ever really materialized there when #19 was here previously. He showed flashes, like he has at all of his stops in the NFL, but his inconsistencies couldn't convince the coaching staff to play him more. So, what's changed?
The obvious answer here would be the subtraction of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the passing game. That's quite a bit of production missing that has yet to be accounted for. But again, I am still not buying into the Butler addition as a solution.
I know it sounds like I'm slamming Brice Butler pretty hard, but there was a time when I wanted to see him on the field more. Like many of you, the past few seasons I wanted to see him receive a promotion over Terrance Williams, but unfortunately that never happened. But, that was then and this is now.
Personally, I would much rather see Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, or Michael Gallup be worked more into the offensive game plan. I just feel that we have already seen what Brice Butler has to offer and it just wasn't good enough for him to stick around before. It's time to move forward, not back.
There is a reason Butler was a free agent. I mean, he wasn't even good enough to stick with Arizona Cardinals, who probably have more problems at WR than the Cowboys. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up being wrong and he'll finally play up to his true potential and talent. Wouldn't that be great?
Now, this is just one person's opinion, but I just don't see Brice Butler improving the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys. I think the only way that happens is if Dak Prescott reaches the next phase in his development. Until then, I don't see things improving much. But, that's an article for another time.
How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys reuniting with Brice Butler?
Despite Seattle’s Record, Sunday Is No Cakewalk For Cowboys
As Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-ending pick six on national television Monday night, all of Cowboys Nation was suddenly giddy.
Somehow, the team which looked completely lost and inept offensively to open the season was now staring down a chance at a 3-1 start if they could take care of back-to-back winless teams.
The first of those winless foes being the Seattle Seahawks.
Though the last 5 years or so have conditioned us to believe that Seattle is a defensive minded, physical football team, more recent history suggests they’ve fallen off quite a bit. No longer are prime Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor patrolling their secondary, or are waves of top tier defensive linemen cycling through during the game.
Now, the Seahawks are defined by a shaky offensive line, a lack of playmakers on the perimeter, and Russell Wilson hero-ball.
It’s an odd, and typically ineffective formula for winning games, but it’s the one the 0-2 Seahawks are currently stuck with.
Despite all of this, however, Sunday’s game will be an important test for the Cowboys. Though they were favored by 3 points last week, this game is the first time in 2018 that Dallas is truly “expected” to win. Ironically, they come in as Vegas underdogs, but it’s difficult to find informed football analysts who are on Seattle this Sunday.
This, of course, has more to do with how poor Seattle has played to open their season, but they’ve still been incredibly competitive in both losses, losing both games by just one possession.
Going to Seattle and getting a win is a task teams have dreaded for years, even before Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought the Seahawks back to relevancy.
Now when you add in factors such as this being Seattle’s home opener, and that they will be desperately fighting to avoid a potential season-killing 0-3 start, this is shaping up to be a very tough test for the Cowboys.
The young Cowboys need to handle their business the next two weeks and take advantage of 0-2 conference foes. These games will be huge down the stretch for potential playoff tie breakers and give them a chance to “fatten up” before entering the more challenging parts of their schedule.
Like two match ups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and running the rest of the NFC South gauntlet during the later months of the year.
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