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Every week - typically on Friday - here at Inside The Star I pen 5 Bold Predictions for the upcoming Dallas Cowboys game. You can read, so you know that this is being published on Saturday, December 17th.
Considering that this is the last game that the 2016 Cowboys will play before Christmas, I wanted to spice things up a bit. Who am I? RJ Ochoa, Staff Writer for Inside The Star and the Host of Ocho Live.
Now we've all made a list - make sure you check it twice - and we know what we want for Christmas after getting clothes last week in the form of a loss against the Giants. We want a win, an NFC East title, a first round bye, and home-field advantage (that's what all the cool kids get every year). This is the time of year where gifts are exchanged, so considering the yuletide greetings who's to say we can't get what we want?
This week's 5 Bold Predictions will have a Christmas feel to them, and considering that they're being published with one less than nine days until December 25th (not to mention that today is the 17th... 1+ 7 = 8 aka Ocho)... this is officially the Ocho Days Until Christmas version of my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
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Dak The Halls: Prescott Has His Own Zeke Leap
This has been one of the longest weeks in recent history for Cowboys fans. The notion of processing a second loss on the season in the middle of December has been too much at times, but winning cures all.
Due to the nature of being the Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Dak Prescott has been questioned quite frequently since leaving the field in New York. With the exception of that game, we have only ever seen Dak rise above adversity when he's faced it this season.
With a lot on the line, both individually and team-wide, Dak knows that this game against Tampa Bay has a lot riding on it. Look for him to do every single thing he can to win, even outside the pocket, and to copy his buddy Zeke with a leap of his own.
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Gavin Escobar Channels The Grinch And Triples His Season Total Catches
While they've certainly been very impressive, it's fair to say that at times we all think the Cowboys are a bit predictable on offense. Last week's drubbing in New York - an inability to score more than seven points - is proof that Scott Linehan needs to get more creative.
Look... Gavin Escobar is still a thing. He's there, just waiting and waiting and waiting to be used. It's been a minute, but more-seasoned members of Cowboys Nation will remember that Gavin Escobar was frequently compared to Jimmy Graham.
When the Buccaneers played Jimmy Graham and the Seahawks a few weeks ago, Graham had six catches. If the Cowboys get creative offensively and use Gavin in a similar fashion... six catches could be headed his way. As he currently has three, this would give him nine on the season and triple his current total a la The Grinch and his tiny little heart.
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Being Home For Christmas Provides A Big Time Advantage
When you're watching a Christmas movie there's always that part where somebody messes up, is driving aimlessly, and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" plays as they think about the gigantic mistake they made. You can count on
The Dallas Cowboys haven't played at home since Thanksgiving Day - think about that. That's 24 days, over three weeks, without playing a game in your home stadium.
I'm not trying to make excuses for how poorly the Cowboys played in New York, but it's definitely worth discussing this time they've been out of their hizzy. Since walking off the field against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, November 20th the Cowboys have been moving at an abnormal pace: Thanksgiving, Thursday Night Football, a mini-bye before New York.
Sunday against the Buccaneers will mark the first time that the Cowboys play back-to-back football games on Sundays since Weeks 10 and 11 against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, respectively. Normalcy is good. Being home, for Christmas, is good. It'll show.
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The Cowboys Sack Their Turbo Man Aka Jameis Winston At Least Three Times
The popular Christmas movie Jingle All The Way features a Dad trying to find his son the one thing he wants more than anything in the world - a Turbo Man action figure.
Turbo Man is this super awesome and popular dude, and the Dad has a bit of trouble in terms of finding one for his son. It's a great movie and there's an epic scene at the end where Turbo Man saves the day, blah blah blah.
A few weeks ago the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wore their color rush uniforms, and you know who they looked like? Turbo Man! Seriously!
@Jaboowins and the #Buccaneers tonight on #TNF.
The Dad in Jingle All The Way, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, ultimately gets his hands on a Turbo Man before the movie is over (if you haven't seen a 20-year old movie by now, I didn't spoil it for you). The Cowboys are going to follow Arnold's plan and get their hands on this version of Turbo Man - Jameis Winston. Three sacks coming up!
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God Rest East Merry Gentlemen: Dallas Locks Up The NFC East On Sunday
Tidings of comfort and joy... that sounds nice, but a division championship sounds a whole lot better in my humble and honest opinion.
I know that technically this prediction doesn't have 100% to do with the Cowboys/Buccaneers game, but a few things: oh well, it's Christmas, it involves us winning the division so no complaints!
Should the Detroit Lions manage to beat, or tie with, the New York Giants on Sunday then the Cowboys will have a win-and-clinch scenario when Sunday Night Football begins.
The Dallas Cowboys have been holding down the NFC East since they took hold of it in Week 5. While they missed an opportunity to stick a fork in the whole dealio last week, it kept us on our toes and let us fully appreciate the dominance that this season truly is. God Rest East you Merry Gentlemen (the gentlemen are our rivals, except the Eagles aren't Merry they're the opposite of Merry which I think is horrible). We're locking this thing up on Sunday night. Huzzah.
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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 prediction: jj Wilcox gets a pick and cowboys win on strength of zeke 2 TD game
@rjochoa bold prediction; BJ and Brown with a pick each, Beastly with 2TD, Zeke with 200yds and 2TD. Dak 300yd night 3TD, Witten 75yds 1TD.
@rjochoa BOLD PREDICTION: Anthony Brown get his second pick of the season. This one being returned for 6Pts.
@rjochoa ok I've been thinking long I've got my prediction Zeke will catch his 2nd receiving TD and Beasley will throw one too TWill
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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