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Dallas Cowboys Vs Green Bay Packers: 5 Bold Predictions
One of my all-time favorite people to ever coach in the NFL is Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy.
Mr. Dungy is one of the finer men to ever grace God's green earth, and he's one of the most humble in the process. He's a Man of God, Hall of Famer, Super Bowl Champion, Father, Husband, and friend. He has written a few books throughout his life, and I've read most of them. In these he shares lessons from his life that have played a prevalent role in his growth as a man, coach, father, husband, and friend.
One of the things Coach Dungy shared in his written work was that his son Jordan was born with a very special neurological condition - congenital insensitivity to pain. This means that Jordan cannot feel pain. While at first glance we think that sounds neat, it's actually terrifying. Coach details that his son loves cookies, and he loves them so much that he may reach into the oven to grab them... burning his hands and mouth, while feeling nothing.
Tony Dungy articulates this whole experience in a far more meaningful way than I can, but he tells us that pain is, as scary as this sounds, necessary. Pain teaches us. Pain teaches us the difference between what's good and what's harmful. Pain helps us grow, heal, and learn. Pain is necessary.
This Sunday will be the biggest football game that the Dallas Cowboys have played in 21 years. While we're not equating this to what Tony Dungy was, members of Cowboys Nation know that we've experienced a lot of pain as fans in those two decades.
We get so wrapped up in confidence and hype that sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are, just like everyone else, afraid. We're scared. We want to win and the possibility exists that we might not, and that's terrifying.
Taking a page out of Tony Dungy's book - figuratively, not literally - we should keep perspective that pain is something to fear, but something to learn from. The Cowboys have learned from a lot of pain over the last 21 years, and you know what? If there's more pain, we'll deal with that. It's the accepting that pain is a possible result that really prepares us, not pretending that it doesn't exist. That's what being bold is all about in life, and these are my 5 Bold Predictions for Cowboys/Packers. Let's roll.
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The Cowboys Possess The Ball For At Least 35 Minutes
By now we've heard all about the red-hot Green Bay Packers offense and their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. While I don't particularly believe the Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback to ever live - a notion many national mediums disagree with - I do acknowledge that he is a premier player at the position.
It's no secret that the best way to stop Aaron Rodgers is to keep him off of the field entirely. The Cowboys know full-well about how great he can be in the Playoffs, and they are best served if they can eliminate the time he has to work against their defense.
When the Cowboys lost at Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round two years ago, they held the ball for 30:39. When they beat Green Bay in their house this past October, they held the ball for 29:50. It's looking at that that makes 35 whole minutes seem like a lot of time, but that's why we don't call them reasonable predictions.
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Cole Beasley Will Lead The Game In Receptions
In the theme of dominating-time-of-possession we obviously understand that Ezekiel Elliott is a big component of that equation. A bigger one - though he is physically smaller - is Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley.
When the Cowboys beat the Packers earlier this season Cole Beasley led Dallas in receptions (6 for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns). Remember that Dez Bryant did not play in this game for the Cowboys.
On the other side both Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery had more receptions than the Saucemaster, and that was with Jordy Nelson playing in the game. This Sunday's game won't have Jordy and will have Dez Bryant, which would suggest that if anything Cole's targets would decrease especially relative to the field.
The Green Bay Packers aren't fools. They know and are preparing for Ezekiel Elliott. While they won't be able to stop him fully, Dak Prescott will have to look to alternative options in order to continually move the chains throughout the game. Look for the Sauce, Dak.
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Dak Prescott Will Convert A Hail Mary Of His Own... To Dez Bryant
ATTENTION: Quarterbacks have successfully completed a "Hail Mary" before. Aaron Rodgers did not invent this. He has had three that were amazing and deserve a lot of credit, but let's slow our rolls (rolls sound so good, by the way) a bit (with butter!) here.
In the world of sports some freaky things happen that can't be explained... it's why we are constantly amazed by them. Dak Prescott is sort of living proof of this idea in that he has continually defied every sense of logic and broken every record that's been in his way throughout a potential MVP-winning season.
We all know the recent history that Dez Bryant has with this team. We all know that Aaron Rodgers has thrown a Hail Mary or two. Sometimes, as we discussed, things happen just because they're supposed to happen and for no reason other than that. This is why Dak Prescott is going to complete a Hail Mary to Dez Bryant. Ultimate savagery.
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Terrance Williams Will Make A Toe-Tap Catch
There's something about Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams to the point that he seriously elevates his game in the playoffs.
Of all the skill position players on the Cowboys, only Terrance Williams has a postseason touchdown, and he has three. Good note @SlaterNFL
Terrance Williams just has a proclivity to be in the right moment at the right time, and that's why we've seen him make such clutch catches at points across his career. The 2014 season was really his coming out party as far as toe-tappers were concerned, but Terrance re-channeled that mantra on Thanksgiving Day earlier this season.
It's time for Terrance. Get it done, TWill. We believe in you.
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David Irving Will Make A Game-Changing Play On Defense
When David Irving had a career-day in Green Bay earlier this season, we all were excited and impressed. The thing that kept us from falling fully in love with David Irving was his inability to turn in that type of performance on a consistent basis.
David Irving impressed us all again in the Tampa Bay game... what is it with David Irving and Bays?! He also played well against the Lions, and this was enough to convince us that he is indeed for real.
It's time for the Cowboys to unleash David Irving, and they're going to. The last time that America's Team hosted the Green Bay Packers in a Playoff game was the 1995 NFC Championship Game. That contest was played in Irving at the old Texas Stadium, so it's somewhat fitting that an Irving would be a critical factor against Green Bay once again.
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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!
Divisional Round and all the Cowboys will have a chance to take a knee, Landry Shift time that's my #boldprediction for @rjochoa
@rjochoa #PlayoffBolds 1. had a dream @Benny_b0y10 made a huge play, not sure what, but may see Hundley 2. Boys hang 40+ 3. @Byron31Jump INT
Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player
It was a dramatic win for the Dallas Cowboys but a win nonetheless. The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Cowboys one hell of a fight at AT&T Stadium in a great rivalry game. It was undoubtedly one of the most exciting games this season has seen as it ended with a walk-off touchdown that gave the home team the victory.
Here is this week's Takeaway Tuesday on what we learned from such a thrilling match!
Amari Cooper Trade Shouldn't Even Be a Discussion
Once a complicated debate, the Amari Cooper trade has a clear winner. It's simple, really. If it wasn't for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys would not be 8-5 en route to the NFC East title. Cooper has literally saved the 2018 season for the once 3-5 Cowboys team.
Since becoming a part of the Cowboys, the former Oakland Raider has accounted for 40 catches, 642 yards and six touchdowns. Last Sunday alone, he was responsible for 217 yards and three scores. Not to mention the amount of times he's moved the chains for this offense. The 24-year old can seriously play football. Despite struggles, this offense is very promising with that caliber of a WR1 and an elite RB such as Ezekiel Elliott.
What was it again? A first rounder? Should've asked for more, Raiders.
Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player
Gregory's journey to be back on a football field was a difficult one. But it was worth it. Versus the Eagles, his presence was constantly felt by Carson Wentz. He was able to get in five pressures, one of which resulted in a sack.
The last couple of games, Gregory has drawn a few costly flags, but his play is still amazing. He's one of the fastest defensive ends in the league and he continues to improve in bending around the corner. He has five sacks in the last eight games. If you weren't convinced #94 should be our starting right defensive end, you should be by now.
Tight Ends Rise
The lack of a tight end did not stand out this past Sunday. But Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin did. With Geoff Swaim out with an injury, this couple of young rotational players had their best games of their careers. Both were targeted in key moments of the game. Blake Jarwin had 56 yards in seven catches and a big third down conversion and Dalton Schultz finished the night with 37 yards.
A promising sign for the Cowboys moving forward. The offense is clicking at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, having a tight end (or a couple) stand up will only make this unit better.
Garrett Deserves a Round of Applause
Whether or not you think Jason Garrett is a good head coach, the guy deserves an applause. I get why you might not like him. In fact, I still question if he should be in Dallas in 2019 if the Cowboys fail to have success in the playoffs. But the way this team has come back from such a terrible start can't be ignored.
The players on this team fight for this guy. The Dallas Cowboys went from a team everyone had written off from playoff contention to legit Super Bowl contenders since they fired Paul Alexander and got Amari Cooper.
Dak Prescott is One of the Best Facing Adversity
Dak Prescott's career continues to cause a great debate among Cowboys' fans. You see, in the NFL, things are not white or black. When judging a player, there are a lot of gray areas. Take last night's performance from Dak Prescott. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once and pretty much played bad football for three quarters. But his night ended with 455 yards and three touchdowns and a 78% completion percentage in 54 attempts.
In the NFL, not any quarterback comes back from turning the ball three times. With the help of his tremendous defense, Dak did. In the fourth quarter, he completed 17 out of 20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. His performance was clutch.
This isn't a one thing either. Since 2016, Dak is tied for the most game-winning drives in the NFL. Prescott might be inconsistent and can have some pretty bad plays. But he's one resilient quarterback. As T.O. would've said: "that's my quarterback."
In Swaim’s Absence And Among Witten Rumors, Jarwin And Schultz Shine
"Starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys" has been about as stable a position as there is in sports over the last decade. It's been Jason Witten. End of story.
Beginning in 2018, however, that stability went out the window with Witten's retirement. The starting role was left in the hands of Geoff Swaim, with even younger and more inexperienced players filling out the depth chart behind him. There was clearly reason for concern, and once Swaim went down during the Cowboys' win in Atlanta, those concerns only grew.
Swaim's absence has brought with it rumors of a Jason Witten return, with reports last weekend even suggesting that Jason Garrett reached out to Witten to see if he's looking to end his retirement and rejoin the Cowboys.
His absence has also brought about the emergence of two young tight ends, however, who are each succeeding in their own ways and showcasing why the Cowboys felt confident in allowing them to take the bulk of the tight end snaps while Swaim is injured. Those tight ends, of course, are Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz.
Last Sunday during the Cowboys big overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, both Jarwin and Schultz had impressive days. Blake Jarwin has become one of the go-to third down options for quarterback Dak Prescott, extending drives and getting open over the middle of the field. Jarwin had a career best 7 catches for 56 yards on Sunday, including a spectacular third down grab to make up for Prescott's poor ball placement on his crossing route.
Blake Jarwin looks like the big, athletic, middle of the field threat that many fans wished Rico Gathers could be. The next step in unlocking his potential would be to get him more involved in the red zone. Dallas is struggling to convert and-goal situations into touchdowns, and logic would say a big target like Jarwin should be able to help in those moments.
Fourth round rookie Dalton Schultz had a good day as well, catching 3 balls for 37 yards including a 16 yard reception down the seam. Where Schultz really shines, however, is with his run blocking, as he did at Stanford. The move to more of a zone blocking scheme has benefited Schultz as a run blocker, just as it has the entire Cowboys rushing offense.
Schultz looks to be improving as a pass catcher by the week, and a year in a professional offseason program should do him wonders in terms of play strength, in turn helping him as a run blocker. He may not ever turn into a top 5 or 10 tight end in football the way Witten once was, but he is clearly already a functional and valuable player on this roster.
The Cowboys are insanely young throughout most of their roster, and tight end is one of those young spots. Tight end is also a spot you typically don't want (or need) to address within the first round of the NFL Draft. Dallas is secretly in a good spot moving forward at tight end, with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz emerging as solid players.
This doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't look around in the offseason to see what's available, but they should also feel comfortable with what's on their roster at the moment.
Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title
If an overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champions that ends their dreams of repeating while increasing your own playoff odds can be both ugly and beautiful, then the Dallas Cowboys 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was certainly that - and a whole lot more.
Extending their winning streak to five didn't come without the Cowboys toying with a total collapse, as Quarterback Dak Prescott turned the ball over three times. Fresh off a win against the New Orleans Saints where the Cowboys managed just 13 points, the Eagles pushed this defense to the edge thanks to continued struggles on offense.
In overtime, Prescott made sure Carson Wentz and the Eagles would never see the ball, putting four indescribable quarters behind him to lead a game-winning touchdown drive. The Cowboys are a win away from claiming the NFC East. The full scope of how this season has turned on its head goes well beyond this most recent Cowboys win, at least back to their first win at the Eagles five weeks ago.
For now, my first attempt at sorting out what we saw at AT&T Stadium on Sunday will have to do, with another post game edition of Sean's Scout.
- With both Tight Ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz setting new career highs in receptions, I was waiting for the Cowboys patience on offense to pay off with a big play on the outside, finally provided twice by Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
In the Cowboys previous win over the Eagles, their receivers had their way with a depleted Philadelphia secondary. Dealing with injuries at cornerback mid-game that are still effecting this group, the Eagles were in no position to line up against Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Cole Beasley.
The counter for the Cowboys offense this week was to use heavier formations, pound Ezekiel Elliott, and get their tight ends involved more than they've been all season. Perhaps the only normal thing to come out of this game was Elliott's 40 touches.
Despite it being a career high, there's no reason Elliott shouldn't be this involved in the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys patience with Elliott was eventually rewarded when Cooper scored from 28 yards out to break a 6-6 tie, and again from 75 yards to put Dallas ahead 23-16 in the fourth quarter.
If not for a few missed shots to Michael Gallup and a missed Brett Maher field goal, the Cowboys efforts on offense could have kept this game out of overtime, though their execution on the winning drive is hard to dispute.
- The Cowboys are last in the league at scoring touchdowns in the red zone over their last three wins, something that has to change quickly in preparation for the playoffs.
The Cowboys were 3 of 5 in the red zone in the win that started this streak in Philly, and 2 of 3 the following week at the Falcons. Their decline on offense has been a recent trend that must come back up over the last three weeks of the regular season.
Only six of Elliott's 40 touches came in the red zone, which feels inexcusable from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, considering also it was an adjusted play call by Cooper and Prescott that created their long touchdown to force overtime.
Perhaps the trust the Cowboys showed in Schultz and Jarwin will lead to more red zone opportunities for tight ends, of which the Cowboys have no true middle-of-field threat.
- There is no reason for Prescott to be falling away on his first interception in the end zone, targeting an open Cooper to the back corner.
Prescott never saw Rasul Douglas break off his man and end up under a throw to Cooper that was placed in a horrible spot. Cooper was open, but thrown into coverage on a ball he never really came close to.
After another look at the play, it's even more disturbing to see Prescott's mechanics. Sliding in a clean pocket, Prescott was falling away slightly when he released the ball. The Cowboys defense would bail out Prescott after probably his most egregious turnover, forcing a three and out.
This was not the case after Prescott's second interception that turned into the Eagles first touchdown, or fumble that lead to a tying field goal.
- For as good a pass rushing duo as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are, Defensive Tackles Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford don't get enough credit for their all-around game.
Before kickoff, I wrote about the Cowboys not needing David Irving, who missed his sixth straight game. This is a compliment to not only Collins and Crawford, but Antwaun Woods as well. All three played their part in keeping the Eagles offense in check once again.
Crawford may be playing the best football of his seven-year career. No longer struggling to fit in as either a defensive end or tackle, Crawford is simply a leader by example for the Cowboys defense wherever he lines up.
Carson Wentz is a quarterback you have to make reset his feet defensively, and Crawford was able to force this a number of times. His speed rush ability paired with the power of Collins and Woods on the inside is incredibly disruptive for Dallas.
Following Maher's missed field goal, Crawford turned in one of the hustle plays of the season for the Cowboys to strip Wentz. Beating the left guard off the snap, Crawford dipped Jason Peters at left tackle on his way to a forced fumble that produced another field goal before the half.
This game was that close to having a first half all about the Cowboys taking advantage of Eagles mistakes, instead leaving points on the field and letting the Eagles punish second half mistakes on the way to overtime.
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With a win at the Colts, vs. the Buccaneers, or at the Giants the Cowboys will have gone from 3-5 to NFC East champions for 2018. The merits of just how good this division is will be worth discussing prior to the playoffs, but with two wins over the Eagles and one over the Redskins within an ongoing five game win streak, the Cowboys are objectively one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
Amari Cooper has probably made six or seven plays "better" than his miraculous overtime touchdown, proving his worth more and more each week, though his winning score will surely be a lasting moment from the Cowboys week 14 win.
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