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At the culmination of every NFL week I adjust a set of mini helmets to reflect the standings as they are at that particular point in the season. This is the most recent rendition:
NFL standings through Week 13, according to my mini helmet display.
After Week 1 of the 2016 season the Dallas Cowboys were in 4th Place in the NFC East. When Week 2 was done the Cowboys had moved up to 3rd Place in the NFC East, where they stayed through Week 3. At the culmination of Week 4 the Cowboys managed to claw their way up to 2nd Place in the NFC East. Finally, after Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season... the Dallas Cowboys sat atop the NFC East.
Since then (Week 5 ended on Sunday, October 9th) America's Team has never surrendered the title of Lead Dog in the NFC East race. When the Cowboys officially begin play against the Giants in New York this Sunday, that will mark 63 straight days of dominance in the NFL's most storied division.
There's another thing about this upcoming Cowboys game against the G-Men. While a victory would certainly extend their streak of sitting atop the NFC East, it would add permanence to it. A win in New York on Sunday wins the NFC East for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys have been holding down the NFC East for basically the entire season. It's time to write that message in stone. We hold down the NFC East, and we are going to prove it. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let’s roll.
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Anthony Hitchens Gets The Interception That Wasn't This Time Around
Last week in Minnesota the Dallas Cowboys saw a star-studded effort by one of their up-and-coming young linebackers - Anthony Hitchens. "Hitch", as he's known, had what would have been one of the finer interceptions on the season if not for a penalty committed by his teammate, Orlando Scandrick.
Later in the ballgame Hitch almost secured another interception... it was just seemingly his night out in Minnesota. We saw Anthony Hitchens kind of catch lightning in a bottle late down the stretch of the 2014 season... this is simply the time that he has a proclivity to shine for.
Get that interception, Hitch. You deserve it.
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Jason Garrett Wins Another Challenge
Even though the Dallas Cowboys entered last week's game in Minnesota with 10 wins to their name, Jason Garrett managed to do something in the game that he hadn't all season.
With the Cowboys rocking color rush uniforms, Jason Garrett threw a red challenge flag... and won! For the first time across the entire 2016 season, Jason Garrett's red handkerchief came in handy. Oh, what a sweet season.
The nature of the NFL in 2016 is that weird calls are made all the time - by the way, how sad is that? - and coaches continually have to challenge so many things in order to make sure the correct call is made.
Warm up the arm, Jason Garrett. You're going to be tossing a red flag on Sunday Night.
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Jason Witten Has 10+ Catches On The Night
The only thing the Cowboys left in Minnesota last week was an impressive streak of Jason Witten's, 130 consecutive game with a catch. At the end of the day stuff like this is significantly less important than a win, but it still stings just a bit.
A lot of comparisons have been made about the 2016 Cowboys to the 2007 Cowboys. These are the only teams in franchise history to go 11-1 through their first 12 games, and they both dominated teams in epic fashion.
On December 9th, 2007 - nine years ago to the date, on the day this being published - the Cowboys traveled to Detroit for a game against the Lions. In the same timeless effort he exhibits almost a decade later, Jason Witten was dominant. He had 15 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown as the Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East.
Big Wit is going over 10 catches. It's destiny.
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Dez Bryant Channels This Night From 2014 With A 3 TD Performance
Obviously the last time the Dallas Cowboys had this level of success was the 2014 season. That year, seven days after Thanksgiving, they traveled to face an NFC North team (the Chicago Bears) and picked up an important victory.
Those Cowboys had 10 days of rest following Chicago and used it as momentum before a big-time divisional showdown in Philadelphia against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. There was a lot of trash-talking going on before that game, but the real trash on the field was the quality of play the Eagles defensive backs exhibited. Dez Bryant caught 6 passes for 114 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The 2014 Cowboys would end up clinching the division a week later, but these Cowboys have the chance to do it in the primetime divisional showdown with the Giants. It is, for all intents and purposes, the same set of circumstances for them. They traveled to face an NFC North team (the Minnesota Vikings) seven days after Thanksgiving, and they are now on the road against an NFC East team with 10 days of rest on Sunday Night Football.
Just like he did in this game two years ago, Dez Bryant is going to hit the hat trick of touchdowns on the night. Bam, bam, bam.
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The Dallas Cowboys Win By A Poetic Score Of 37-34
The Cowboys and Giants have squared off many a time in their long history, but they have only ever met once on December 11th (like they will on Sunday). This was December 11th, 2011, and it was the famous JPP-block game on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
We find ourselves with another December 11th Sunday Night Football game upon us, but unlike five years ago Jason Pierre-Paul won't be on the field as he had surgery tending to a groin injury.
That 2011 Giants victory in Dallas propelled New York to a run that would culminate in a Super Bowl XLVI Championship. It also propelled the Cowboys to a road that saw them finishing 8-8 on the season, a feat they'd match each of the next two seasons.
This is poetry at its finest, except this time it rhymes with Dallas. Sometimes fate circles back around, seemingly giving us another chance at what we once almost had. Here is our chance. Here is our December 11th. Let's win it exactly like we lost it five years ago, by a score of 37-34. 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 early #boldprediction first game, cowboys won turnover battle and lost game, this week we lose turnover battle and win the game
We'll talk plenty of #DALvsNYG this week, so our bold prediction for @rjochoa is that @ninjafast22 has a special teams TD! @CowboysNation
@rjchoppy @rjochoa Bold prediction. Anthony Brown shuts down Odell. 2 INTS
@rjochoa ok so for bold predictions: Eli manning is going to throw a pick to give the Cowboys the divison and the win! As well as
@rjochoa bold prediction vs the G-men Sunday RJ, Dak throws for 320, 4 td's, Dez 120 yards 2 td's,Zeke 140 yards 1td,Beasley 100 yards n 2td
@rjochoa I got a prediction Butler and Beasley will get a td.. and Irving will get a force fumble
@rjochoa Bold prediction is that @nino9brown picks off Eli twice, one being a pick 6. And holds his matchup to less than 30 yards.
@rjochoa ...2 int's from our defense and both Dak and Zeke have rushing TD's.
REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday
According to Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys have a meeting scheduled to visit with Free Agent Safety Eric Berry Tuesday at The Star.
Source: Former #Chiefs S and new free agent Eric Berry is visiting the #Cowboys on Tuesday. His first visit. They have a need there...
Eric Berry has spent his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs after they drafted him fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. After signing Earl Thomas last week, the Chiefs decided to part ways with their former All-Pro Safety.
Berry, 30 is an intriguing free agent for the Dallas Cowboys. When healthy, he is arguably one of the best safeties in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field these last few seasons causing him to only start in only three games since 2016.
This is a move many of us expected to happen after the Cowboys decided not to get into a bidding war for Earl Thomas, a player linked to Dallas for over a year now. In Berry, Cowboys Nation would be getting a similar player with the same kind of red flags. Both Thomas and Berry have to be approached with caution due to their injury history the past few years.
Depending on his asking price, Eric Berry absolutely makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys. He would be an upgrade over Jeff Heath and would pair well with the Cowboys up-and-coming three-year safety Xavier Woods.
This is still just a visit, so we should probably get our hopes up that a signing is imminent. But, I think we can all agree Eric Berry is exactly the "right kind of guy" Jason Garrett is always preaching about. He's a cancer survivor, five-time Pro Bowler, and All-Pro player. What's not to like!?
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder
The Dallas Cowboys added more defensive line help today after signing former Detroit Lions Defensive End Kerry Hyder.
Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation
Hyder, 27 originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech with the New York Jets in 2014. He spent a year in New York before signing a future/reserve contract with the Detroit Lions in January 2015.
He had a breakout eight-sack year with the Lions in 2016, but tore his Achilles in 2017 causing him to miss the entire season. In 2018 he had just one quarterback sack after Detroit switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Overall, this is a good depth signing by the Dallas Cowboys. Kerry Hyder has starting potential, but shouldn't keep the Cowboys from upgrading the position further through either another free agent signing for the draft.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap
It's been just a week since NFL free agents could begin negotiating with other teams, but it feels like a lifetime for anxious Cowboys fans. Dallas' seemingly passive approach to 2019 free agency has left many disappointed. Still, there are some moves to recap.
As has become their strategy in recent years, the Cowboys have focused on filling up their depth chart and trying to avoid any glaring holes prior to next month's draft. They've re-signed several backups and added at least one likely rotation player.
It's still far too early to judge Dallas' activity. Comparing the 2019 roster to last year will depend heavily on the draft, growth from current players, and other factors. But with the "second wave" of free agency upon us, it's a good time to look at who's come, gone, and stuck around so far.
- TE Jason Witten (unretired)
- TE Codey McElroy (Rams)
- DT Christian Covington (Texans)
The biggest addition so far this offseason wasn't even a free agent, at least not in the purest sense of the term. Jason Witten's surprising return from retirement helped shore up one of Dallas' biggest needs, though it may not preclude them from drafting a tight end high in April.
Also at tight end, Dallas signed developmental project Codey McElroy. His experience is in baseball and basketball, having played just one year of college football. But at 6'6'" and 255 lbs., and having spent last year working with the Rams, the Cowboys must see something they're intrigued by.
Last week Dallas signed Christian Covington, who had 3.5 sacks for Houston in 2018 playing as a 3-4 defensive end. He should move to DT in the Cowboys' scheme and should be a solid addition to their rotation.
- WR Cole Beasley (Bills)
- TE Geoff Swaim (Jaguars)
- DL David Irving (shenanigans)
- LB Damien Wilson (Chiefs)
Beasley is heading to Buffalo on a four-year, $29 million deal. It appeared the relationship soured between Cole and Dallas over his playing time last year, and clearly the Cowboys didn't fight hard to keep him.
Damien Wilson followed Anthony Hitchens to Kansas City to help round out their linebacker corps. Once it was announced that Dallas was hanging on to Sean Lee in 2019, it was fairly certain that Wilson wouldn't be back.
Also not expected back was TE Geoff Swaim, who signed with Jacksonville. Even before Witten came back, Dallas appeared likely to stick with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz for returning talent and then add an upgrade via free agency or the draft.
While still a free agent, nobody expects David Irving back in Dallas or even the NFL after recent activities. Irving appears focused on a Hollywood career and advocating for medical marijuana use at this point.
- FB Jamize Olawale
- WR Tavon Austin
- WR Allen Hurns (team option)
- OT Cam Fleming
- G/C Joe Looney (team option)
- DE DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag)
- DT Daniel Ross (ERFA)
- LB Justin March-Lillard
- S Darian Thompson
While Dallas put the franchise tag on prized pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, his return in 2019 is far from settled. Lawrence has previously sworn he wouldn't play under a second franchise tag this year, and last we heard the two sides are far apart on a long-term deal. Could a holdout be on the horizon?
The Cowboys doubled-down on WR depth by re-signing Tavon Austin and exercising their team option on Allen Hurns' contract. Both are able to play out of the slot, meaning we could see more of a rotation approach to replacing Cole Beasley next year.
Dallas also re-signed fullback Jamize Olawale, which was a surprise given his low usage rate last year. Perhaps the change to Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator was behind this one, hoping to take better advantage of Olawale's receiving skills going forward.
Joe Looney and Cam Fleming will also be back as valuable backups on the offensive line. Looney started 16 games last year at center and also helps at guard, while Fleming will be the swing tackle once again for his second season in Dallas.
On defense, Dallas kept Daniel Ross in their DT rotation after solid performance in 2018. Justin March-Lillard return at linebacker, particularly for his value on special teams. And Darian Thompson, a former third-round pick by the Giants, is back as an ongoing developmental player.
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