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NFL Playoffs: Championship Picks Analysis



NFL Blog - NFL Playoffs: Championship Weekend Predictions

Well...we got what we wanted in one half of the league.

The Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals game should be phenomenal. These were probably the two best teams in the NFL and we will get to see them duke it out to go to the Super Bowl.

The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos doesn't really intrigue me at all. I am frankly tired of seeing the Patriots, and the Broncos have to be one of the most boring teams to watch in the NFL.

I would be shocked if the Patriots struggled with the Broncos. Peyton Manning can barely throw the ball anymore. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson don't offer anything spectacular through the running game. The Broncos offensive line isn't anything special. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are good, but with Manning's regression, their passing attack is far less scary.

However, the Broncos have the NFL's top ranked defense, though I think it will be minimized against the Patriots.

Cowboys Blog - NFL Playoffs: Championship Weekend Predictions 1

The Broncos' secondary is tough to go against, but the Patriots quick passing game may neutralize their effect

The Patriots live in the short pass game. They get the ball out quickly, so the Broncos pass rush will have a hard time making an impact in this game. The Broncos secondary is good too, but with Edelman healthy, they will still be able to hit short routes as extensions to the run game to move the football.

Rob Gronkowski offers a matchup nightmare. I wonder if the Broncos will deploy Aqib Talib on him, who has had success there before, or possibly Chris Harris Jr.

Cowboys Blog - NFL Playoffs: Championship Weekend Predictions 2

Julian Edelaman's impact on the Patriots offense cannot be overstated. Brady gets the ball out much quicker when 11 is on the field

Regardless, I can't see the Broncos offense doing much of anything, barring a comeback performance by Peyton Manning for the ages, and the Patriots offense should be able to move.

Patriots over the Broncos 27-13

The Panthers and Cardinals should be a much more entertaining game.

Cam Newton's MVP year continues to roll on, but this should be his biggest test yet. The Cardinals will bring tons of pressure and they are so fast and athletic in the back that it will be really hard to hurt them.

One area where the Cardinals struggle is covering the tight end, so Greg Olsen will be needed to step up in a big way. The running game has to get going as well, because I just can't see any of their wide receivers winning against the Cardinals secondary. If Cam Newton can escape some of the Cardinals pressure, I can see his legs playing a major role.

The Cardinals offense exploded this season. With a deep wide receiver core, a healthy and effective Carson Palmer, and the emergence of David Johnson, the Cardinal offense is a juggernaut.

Cowboys Blog - NFL Playoffs: Championship Weekend Predictions

The Cardinals offense can beat you in so many ways. With their wide receiver depth and David Johnson, if Palmer is on his game this will be tough for the Panthers

However, this offense will meet it's match. The Panthers play a physical brand of football and deploy a scheme that tricks quarterbacks into making mistakes. I can see this being a major factor in this game.

With the Panthers deploying some cover-2 traps, Carson Palmer better be on his game. If we see the Palmer from last week, this can be a really tough game for the Cardinals. The Panthers won't drop interceptions like the Packers did. The Panthers are better schemed to create turnovers than the Packers are as well. Josh Norman will make it tough for whoever he defends.

Cowboys Blog - NFL Playoffs: Championship Weekend Predictions 3

The Panthers play two safeties deep and allow their corners to be aggressive. If an opposing wide receiver goes deep, the corners have the freedom to let them go to the safety while attacking an underneath throw. This often baits quarterbacks into interceptions

Contrary to popular belief, the Panthers secondary isn't amazing outside of Norman, but they are schemed well. If Palmer doesn't take the bait and plays the brand of football we have seen from him for the majority of 2015, they should have some real success.

David Johnson will be a huge key for this game. He wasn't great against the Packers, but if he can get going against the Panthers it would add a whole new element.

This one is hard to predict, but...

Cardinals over Panthers 31-27

I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content. I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!

Star Blog

Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins

Jess Haynie



Orlando Scandrick

Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.

By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.

Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.

Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.

Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.

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Star Blog

Upgrading the Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?

Brian Martin



Upgrading Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?

Despite the displeasure by the majority of fans, the Dallas Cowboys continue to hold things close to the vest with their approach to free agency. It's definitely not the most popular approach and tends to drive fans crazy, but things could start heating up now that the free-agent market is starting to settle.

Looking from the outside in, we can only speculate as to which positions the Dallas Cowboys may prioritize in free agency and in the draft that matter. Earl Thomas and the safety position has been the most popular topic of discussion throughout the free agency process, but it looks as if the Cowboys are narrowing their focus on upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line.

Marcus Martin

Free-agent C/OG Marcus Martin

This is just speculation of course, but it's based on the fact that the Cowboys are rumored to be bringing in free-agent offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming. And on top of that, it was announced that two of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are also offensive lineman, Will Hernandez, who is popular among Cowboys fans already, and offensive tackle Kolton Miller.

I don't know about you, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys are certainly focused in on upgrading the offensive line. This absolutely makes sense after what they went through last season with the carousel at the left guard position and Tyron Smith's struggles to stay healthy.

More than anything, the Cowboys need OL depth heading into the 2018 season. There is only really one spot up for grabs at left guard, but the depth across the OL is absolutely depleted unless you want to rely on Chaz Green again.

This is where Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming make a lot of sense. Marcus Martin has the versatility to play center and guard, and has done so already in his NFL career. He could compete for the starting LG position, but if nothing else, could replace Joe Looney as the backup C/OG.

Cameron Fleming could be the more important of the two free agents the Cowboys are rumored to be interested in. At the worst, Fleming would be an upgrade as the swing tackle, something he's done with the New England Patriots throughout his career. But, he could compete to become the starting right tackle, which would kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard.

That's all speculation right now, but the Dallas Cowboys would do what's best for the entire team in order to get the right starting five offensive lineman on the field.

Kolton Miller

Cowboys Rookie prospect OT Kolton Miller

The same can be said about rookies Will Hernandez and Kolton Miller. Hernandez would likely be a plug-and-play left guard if he ended up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick. That would keep the offensive line from shuffling and hopefully solidify the unit for years to come.

Kolton Miller on the other hand would be a lot like the Cameron Fleming situation mentioned above. He can probably tackle on the left or right side the NFL, although some draft analysts believe he will struggle as a LT at the next level.

Of course, there is no way of knowing how much interest the Dallas Cowboys have any of these players right now. But to me, it looks as if upgrading the offensive line is certainly one of their top priorities this offseason.

Is upgrading the OL the Dallas Cowboys top offseason priority?

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Star Blog

Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension

For die-hard NFL fans, the free agency period is as fun as any other week in the regular season. It's always a fun experience knowing what team is interested in which player and who's visiting who. Heck, there are websites with "free agents trackers" for people who don't want to miss a single thing.

Seeing the huge contracts some players get and discussing whether it's well-deserved money or an overpaid salary provides football fans all around the league with fun football conversations in the middle of March.

This is a period in which, despite not being on the field, every NFL team is doing the same thing. Trying to get better. Which is exactly why most Dallas Cowboys fans are frustrated with how things have gone for their favorite team in this 2018 NFL offseason.

Right now, less than a week after the free agency period officially began, they're the only team left in the NFL that hasn't signed a single free agent.

Surprising? Not at all.

Whether we like it or not, we know how this team likes to operate. A quiet free agency isn't out of the ordinary for the Cowboys. For many years, the NFL Draft has been the priority for them, and they've done a good job at it.

At the end of the day, waiting for the first wave of free agents to pass is smart unless you're looking for a QB or have a huge amount of cap space. When you look at what players are getting, you realize most of them are overpaid. Sammy Watkins got a $48M three-year deal, when he hasn't really proved to be worth it.

I don't think Cowboys Nation would've liked to see the Jones family bring Watkins for that kind of money. Personally, I don't mind the Cowboys' front office letting those first expensive signings occur without them participating in them.

I mean, they've already made a splash, when you think about it. DeMarcus Lawrence was the biggest non-QB free agent of the year and they managed to keep him for at least next season. It's not exactly a free agent signing, but they are paying one of the NFL's best pass rushers more than $17M to wear the Star one more year.

Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension 1

Former Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu

Yes, the Cowboys' team-building philosophy is comprehensible. But when do fans like you and me stop understanding their offseason approach and get bothered by it? To me, that frustration came in the form of Tyrann Mathieu signing with the other NFL team in Texas.

If the Honey Badger had signed a super expensive contract, I'd be fine with the Cowboys passing on him. But Houston was able to get him for just seven million dollars on a one-year prove-it deal.

Mathieu is one of the best defensive talents in the league and will be just 26 years old when next season begins. Why didn't the Cowboys tried to land him, if safety is a position of need? I mean, we've been talking about a potential trade for Earl Thomas all year!

Were they hesitant just because the Honey Badger isn't your traditional safety? Are they so conservative that their reason to not go after him was he wasn't a scheme fit? When you're talking about a talent like his, I think you make things work to see him thrive along young and promising cornerbacks like Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie.

The Cowboys can still look at Tier-2 free agents such as TE Eric Ebron or S Kenny Vaccaro over the following days. It could end up working for them, or it could end up just like Nolan Carroll's horrendous game versus the Broncos in week 2 of the 2017 NFL season and his $2M in dead money for this year.

When it comes to the Cowboys' approach to free agency, there's a very thin line between comprehension and frustration. Maybe, just maybe, they make us understand next season when we see results on the field.

For now though, it's tough to stay in the "comprehending" side of things.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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