"Rockin' around the Christmas tree, let the Christmas spirit ring... later we'll have some pumpkin pie and we'll do some caroling."
This line from one of the more iconic Christmas songs of all-time has been the subject of some serious debate between my friends and I over the last week.
If you're rocking around the Christmas tree and letting the Christmas spirit ring, how is the first thing that you think of pumpkin pie?!
Pumpkin pie is certainly not the most Christmas-y dessert in existence - it's not even the most Christmas-y pie that's available!
Rock around that tree, let the spirit ring, and have some pecan pie! Or candy canes! Or egg nog! Or gingerbread cookies! I could re-write this song a thousand different ways that would be better than pumpkin pie.
I've actually re-written some Christmas songs before... in today's Bold Predictions. As Christmas is less than a week away it felt appropriate to bring some holiday cheer in as we get excited for today's contest against the New York Jets.
Sean Lee Will Have 10+ Tackles
"FeLee Navidad! Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha. FeLee Navidad! Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha. FeLee Navidad! Sean Lee is so awesome at football!"
Sean Lee wants to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of his heart.
The General has had quite the season in 2015. Cowboys fans have always looked to him to always make big plays and be the leader of the defense, and he's rarely someone who disappoints.
Lee has totaled 9 tackles once this season and hit the 7 mark on three occasions. With Rolando McClain out for the game Sean is going to have to step up and contribute even more than we're accustomed to seeing him.
This is going to be a vintage Lee game where he is just running around like a mad man and finding himself near the football. 10 tackles will be his before the clock reads triple zero.
Cole Beasley Will Lead The Team In Receptions
"I really can't see, but baby it's Cole inside. I've got to throw it away, but baby it's Cole inside. This play has changed, but baby it's Cole inside."
The New York Jets bring to town one of the NFL's finest defensive units. They're stacked at all levels, but specifically at the defensive line and secondary.
Matt Cassel has shown time after time that he doesn't like throwing downfield and even when he does it, it's done with little regard to the route that his receiver is running.
The Jets are going to get some pressure on him which is going to cause him to panic a bit, and look for Cole Beasley on some clutch inside routes. Look for #11 to catch quite a few passes because for Cassel... it's bad out there.
Gavin Escobar Will Catch A Touchdown
"I... don't want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need. Let's start using the presents underneath our offensive tree. I just want him in the endzone. More than you could ever know. Make my wish come true... Gavin is the redzone target we should throw to!"
There's a guy who plays for the Dallas Cowboys named Gavin Escobar. Ever heard of him?
He's a 6'6" tight end who supposedly has the best hands on the team.
Yea so we've got this super big, super tall, and relatively fast weapon at our disposal. It would probably make a lot of sense to use him, right? Wrong!
The last time that Escobar saw some usage was when Tony Romo was under center for the Cowboys. Yes, it's sadly been that long. Gavin even caught a touchdown from Romo back during the Week 1 victory over the Giants.
I'm calling for a Christmas miracle here in that the Cowboys finally realize that using an extremely potent offensive weapon is good for them. Gavin's going to find the paint today.
Randy Gregory Will Get His First Career Sack
"Just look at Randy Gregory wearing that silver and blue. His first sack is coming and is long and overdue. Outside the tackles he is starting to get what to do. Come on its lovely weather for his first sack or two."
Byron Jones and La'el Collins have made the Dallas Cowboys Front Office look like some pretty smart guys over this season. Their eye for talent is certainly on point, and that includes Randy Gregory.
The former Cornhusker has only played in nine games thanks to some injuries, but he's starting to find his way out there. Pass rushers don't typically develop right away in the NFL, but there's plenty to be excited about concerning Randy.
The new 94 has come awfully close to lassoing his first career sack. There will be no more close as Randy is going to finish for the first time - with Ryan Fitzpatrick tagging along for the ride.
Dan Bailey's Field Goals Will Cover More Yards Than The Offense
"Santa Bailey... slip a football over the goalpost-shaped-tree, for me, I've been an awful good fan. Santa Bailey, take your time putting those kicks in flight."
Dan Bailey is currently the bread and butter of the Dallas Cowboys offense.
As silly as that may seem, we need to appreciate Dan and his greatness. He's only missed one kick this year... the guy is money 99/100 times.
Dan can kick from short, he can kick from far. Bailey can kick with his eyes closed or he could even kick with his hands tied behind his back. He has checked off just about every which way that a field goal can be made great.
Dan is going to do something truly spectacular during this game when he amasses more yardage via field goals than the Dallas Cowboys offense is able to via running and passing the ball. Dan Bailey for President!
Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys have what many believe to be the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. However, you can never undervalue the importance of depth at any position. When the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft came around, the Cowboys added another weapon to the backfield by selecting Tony Pollard out of Memphis.
If you’re looking for a dynamic player maker with the ability to take it to the house at any given moment, Pollard is your man. The former Tiger averaged a touchdown every 13 touches in college. That’s an absolutely insane statistic when you think about it. He also tied an NCAA record with seven kick returns for touchdowns. Long story short, he can get you six points at the blink of an eye.
The versatility in his game is outrageous and undoubtedly the reason why he was drafted. In addition to running for 941 yards on 6.8 yards per rush, he also had 104 receptions for 1,292 yards. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to be salivating about the possibilities with his new toy. Having a running back that can not only carry the load as a runner but also line up at receiver keeps the defense honest. You never know what angle the offense is going to come from.
This has to be a sigh of relief for Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Cowboys don’t have to overexert him and can bring Pollard in on third downs if need be. Not just to give Elliott a breather but to change the pace of the offensive attack. You can hand the ball off, throw it to him or run jet sweeps when he is on the field. This sets up a potential combo at running back that could be the leagues very best shortly.
Speed, quickness, and agility are all wrapped up in the Tony Pollard package. The Cowboys now have a running back that can line up at multiple positions if need be. Also, this prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body of Ezekiel Elliott. This combination has all the potential to set the NFL on fire in 2019.
CB Byron Jones Not Expected To Return Until Week 1 Against NYG
Coming off what was clearly the best season of his career thus far, Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones underwent surgery to hopefully fix a nagging hip injury.
While he earned both his first All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, his first season as a full-time cornerback, Jones still has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Some still criticize him for his lack of interceptions, and there's no doubt his stellar play slowed down a bit towards the end of the year.
I'm willing to wager that the slight decline had a lot to do with his hip troubles, but nonetheless he must come up with his elite level play once again to earn himself a nice contract somewhere in 2020.
Oh, did I forget to mention it's also a contract year for Byron Jones? As it is for so many important Dallas Cowboys, it seems.
So when will Byron Jones be able to return to the Cowboys' lineup? Well, the initial date reportedly set by Jones and the team was late July, giving him a chance to practice and play a bit before the season opener in September. But, according to the Team Site this week, that date may be pushed back a bit, and we might not see Byron Jones until that season opening game against the Giants.
"As for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don’t expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills." - Mickey Spagnola
Ultimately, as long as Byron Jones is good to go when the regular season starts, that's all that matters, but the fear of rust when Jones returns is a real one.
It's tough to go from no live football straight to the meaningful games, but if anyone would be able to do it it would be the guy with the freakishly athletic traits. The guy who can get out of the bed in the morning and set athletic records at the Combine.
And, of course, that guy is Byron Jones.
Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure
When the 2016 NFL Draft came around the Dallas Cowboys were in search of the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Unfortunately, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, Romo would find himself on the shelf again after suffering a broken bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seahawks. However, the Cowboys had an ace in the hole, in the form of Dak Prescott who they drafted in the fourth round.
The idea was the groom him for a few years before taking the keys to the car so to speak from Romo, but fate had another idea in mind. Prescott would be thrust into the starting lineup against one of the Cowboys most hated rivals to start the season, the New York Giants. Added to that, was the pressure of living up to Romo's stellar resume as the franchise's all-time leading passer. After struggling in a tough 20-19 loss, no surprise there for a rookie quarterback, Prescott began to take flight.
Over the next eleven games he wouldn't suffer a single loss as the Cowboys were sitting pretty at 11-1. What made this streak more impressive was the efficiency of Prescott. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions over that span. In the process, he set an NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception with 176. This broke the previous record held by Tom Brady of 162. It didn't stop there, as he also set a rookie record for completion percentage (67.8), was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Cowboys would finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the franchise only winning two postseason games in 21 years, Prescott was definitely under the microscope. After the offense struggled to produce points in the first half and fell behind 21-3, Prescott lead a furious comeback. Helping the team storm all the way back to tie the game at 28 and again at 31. He finished with 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first playoff start against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Even though the team lost 34-31, Prescott proved how much of a gamer he was as he basically went yard for yard and point for point with one of the NFL's elite signal-callers. It was clear the Cowboys were in good hands going forward.
2017 started off well as the Cowboys were 5-3 and firmly on pace for another playoff run. Unfortunately, All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott lost his fierce battle with the NFL over domestic violence allegations, and Dak along with the offense struggled. After a 9-7 season and falling one game short of a Wild Card berth, the pressure on Prescott heading into the next season was immense.
Once 2018 came about Prescott had more pressure than ever with Elliott back for a full season. After a slow 3-4 start the Cowboys traded for Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, providing the team with it's first true number one receiver since Dez Bryant. Putting even more expectations on Prescott to turn things around, and boy did he ever.
He would complete 71.6% of his passes in the final eight games of the season, and the Cowboys won seven to finish 10-6. Now, with another division title under his belt, came a playoff matchup with Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Russell Wilson.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hanging on to a 17-14 lead. They faced a 3rd and 14 inside the redone with just over two minutes left. After dropping back a few steps, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards setting up a first and goal from the one-yard line. The team held on for a 24-22 victory but here's why that scramble was so important.
If the Cowboys don't convert that 3rd and long that would've set up a field goal attempt. Assuming it would have been successful, that would've only put them up 20-14. Giving Seattle a chance to more than likely win with a touchdown and an extra point or two-point conversion. Prescott essentially won the game with that 3rd down run. Proving once again there's no situation he can't handle.
He's set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. No quarterback has won more games than him since 2016 except Tom Brady. No one has more game-winning drives than him since he entered the league. His 13 primetime victories are tops in the NFL over the last three seasons. Simply put, Dak Prescott is a winner and doesn't fold under pressure, instead, he embraces it. There are no bigger lights in the NFL than the ones that shine in Dallas. With those lights come huge expectations and pressure, and it's clear this young man is made of the right stuff to handle it.
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