Welcome one and all!
It's Divisional Weekend around the NFL and if you are unaware... this is perhaps the finest weekend in sports.
The Divisional Round of the Playoffs in the NFL typically features some of its most compelling games. Three years ago there was Baltimore in Denver and we all remember how that went down. Two years ago we saw San Francisco go into Carolina and hand them a big-time loss. Last year Cowboys Nation had their hearts broken when the most obvious catch in the history of football was ruled not to be one.
Alas, Division Weekend is the most sure-fire guarantee that there is in terms of good football. There'll be some great games going on this weekend, and I'm here to tell you how they'll turn out. Let's get to the picks.
This game is very, very interesting.
Rob Gronkowski's health is a question mark, Bill Belichick had a black eye in a press conference this week... what in the world is going on in New England?!
Meanwhile the lone remaining team in the state of Missouri has some problems of their own. Jeremy Maclin is officially listed as questionable... leaving the only legitimate threat for the Chiefs left to be Travis Kelce.
The Patriots have made a living off of supreme January football, but is there any magic left there? The Chiefs have won eleven games in a row, but that has to end too doesn't it?
Ultimately the injuries in this game are a wash towards one another for me. It's the Playoffs and whenever there's a wash you always lean with the better quarterback and Head Coach.
Official Pick: Patriots Win, 27-21.
I spent some time hyping you up for the Divisional Playoff weekend up top. I promise that you're going to see what will likely be three entertaining games... and this one.
These two squared off just a few weeks ago and Arizona wiped the floor with Green Bay... 38-8.
Since then the Cardinals tapered off just a wee bit in the regular season finale to their division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Packers impressively (at least in the eyes of the national media) won a Playoff Game over Kirk Cousins and the Redskins... really "impressive," right?
I've pounded the table throughout all of 2015 that the Green Bay Packers are a mirage of talent. They are not a good football team that only does one thing consistently - catch a parade of inconsistently common breaks. This is who they've beat this year: Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, San Francisco, St. Louis, San Diego, Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas, Oakland, Washington.
We won't be adding Arizona to that list anytime soon. The Cardinals boast one of the league's most efficient and potent offenses. This will be a bloodbath.
Official Pick: Cardinals Win, 42-17.
This has a chance to be the best game of the season.
This will mark the sixth meeting between these two franchises over the last four years. Each of the previous five games was won by a margin of 6.2 points (which is actually inflated by a 14-point victory by the Seahawks in last year's Divisional Round).
These are two very similar teams who like to play the same kind of football. We've got two very strong and quick defenses and, with the emergence of Russell Wilson in 2015, two offenses who can go blow for blow.
Cam Newton will likely be named MVP of the 2015 season when it's all said and done, and it's going to take that kind of herculean effort to win this game. The Panthers were smiling ear to ear when it looked like Blair Walsh was going to boot the Seahawks from the dance. This is the worst possible scenario for them and they know it.
Russell Wilson has only lost one Playoff Game to an NFC opponent in his four year career. He performs best when the water's hottest (with the exception of last year's NFC Championship Game obviously) and with the Seahawks being given a new lease on life last week they'll take advantage of it.
Official Pick: Seahawks Win, 38-37.
The Denver Broncos are annoying.
I was very vocal on Twitter about how much I was against Gary Kubiak switching to Peyton Manning in the regular season finale. Brock Osweiler had earned the starting job, and Kubiak put up with more than enough bad performances from Peyton than to yank Osweiler in my opinion.
Nevertheless the annoying Denver Broncos have caught another break with a ticket to the AFC Championship Game on the line as Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams have already been ruled out of this contest. Never fear though... Ben Roethlisberger is also severely limited. Good thing the Broncos boast what is arguably the league's best defense.
I've got a Bold Prediction for this game that you'll have to come back tomorrow to see, but I just don't see how Pittsburgh sans all of their great weapons, and with a limited Big Ben, has enough to take down Denver.
It took a perfect effort from a completely healthy Roethlisberger and Antonio to beat the Broncos a few weeks ago... with so much going Denver's way this game is well in hand for them.
Official Pick: Broncos Win, 23-16.
Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving
En una agencia libre muy callada de parte de los Dallas Cowboys, como es costumbre, lo más interesante hasta ahora se revuelve alrededor de un talento increíble en la línea defensiva: David Irving. El joven de la línea defensiva de Dallas recibió un tender de segunda ronda (con un costo de casi tres millones de dólares) de parte de los Cowboys, lo cual significa que vestirá la Estrella Solitaria un año más... ¿o no?
No, no es tan sencillo.
A diferencia de la etiqueta franquicia que recibió DeMarcus Lawrence hace unas semanas, un tender permite a un jugador recibir ofertas de otros equipos. Si Irving llega a recibir una oferta externa, sin embargo, los Cowboys tienen la oportunidad de igualarla.
Pero no sólo eso, sino que si no quieren igualar la oferta, pueden dejar ir al jugador y en cambio, el otro equipo tiene que compensar a los Cowboys con una selección de segunda ronda. Así como el tender de segunda ronda que se le otorgó a David Irving, hay tender de primera ronda o tender de "selección original."
Sin embargo, Irving no fue seleccionado en el NFL Draft, así que esta última opción hubiera tenido poco sentido.
Ahora, pensando en el 2018 y una temporada ya incierta, nos sentamos preguntando: ¿No valía la pena cubrir a Irving con un tender de primera ronda? Al final de cuentas, sólo hay aproximadamente un millón de diferencia entre ambos. Irving es un jugador lleno de talento, y podría llegar a estar entre los mejores en su posición próximamente.
Sin embargo, si somos honestos, es una buena decisión de la administración. Irving ha tenido sus cuantos problemas y quizá este tender ayude a definir su valor en el mercado. Si ningún equipo alrededor de la liga se atreve a ofrecerle un contrato, los Cowboys mejoran su posición en las negociaciones y quien sabe, quizá consigan un acuerdo más amigable para el equipo.
Además, si un equipo decide llevárselo... ¿qué tan malo sería?
Con el pick #19 en la primera ronda del Draft de la NFL, no están en una posición muy cómoda. Como bien algún jugador talentoso como el DT Vita Vea o el WR Calvin Ridley pueden caer a las manos de Stephen Jones, Will McClay y compañía, bien puede estar vacía la tabla.
Con jugadores como el S de Florida State Derwin James o el LB de Georgia Roquan Smith, deberían considerar realizar un trade para subir algunas selecciones y llevarse a uno de estos talentos que no estarán disponibles en el #19.
Con las selecciones globales 19, 50 y una segunda ronda extra que conseguirían por Irving, es fácil visualizar a este equipo dispuesto a hacer un movimiento así el día del Draft.
A pesar de una mala temporada en el 2017, los Dallas Cowboys son un equipo que están cerca de ser contendientes.
Cowboys Free Agency: FB Keith Smith Signing with Raiders
The Cowboys have lost an important role player from the offense as fullback Keith Smith is reportedly signing with the Oakland Raiders.
The #Raiders and FB Keith Smith have agreed to terms on a 2-year worth $4.2million, source said.
Smith, who has been with Dallas for four seasons, was the team's fullback the last two seasons. He started as a linebacker after going undrafted in 2014.
Whether on offense or defense, Keith has been a regular part of the special teams units. The Cowboys' previous special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia, just left this offseason to join the coaching staff in Oakland. That is a likely cause for Smith heading to the Raiders.
Dallas elected not to give Smith a restricted free agent tender, which made sense given his position. Even the lowest tender of $1.9 million would have been too rich for a part-time player.
Even with Keith gone, Dallas may not need to sign a new fullback. Backup RB Rod Smith has experience in that role. They could also use tight ends James Hanna or Geoff Swaim.
Fullback is obviously not the position it used to be in the days of Daryl Johnston, but there are still times you need that lead blocker out of the backfield. Given their reliance on the run game and the success that Ezekiel Elliott had with Keith Smith, Dallas will have to find a solid replacement plan.
Will Another Team Snag David Irving Away From Cowboys?
It was somewhat surprising to learn that the Dallas Cowboys only placed a second-round tender on David Irving. A first-round tender would have likely dissuaded any other team from signing him to a contract and giving up a first-round draft pick, but signing Irving to a contract and giving up a second-draft pick is much more plausible.
I can almost guarantee there are teams around the league right now who are discussing the pros and cons of trying to acquire David Irving. The Dallas Cowboys likely know this which means one of two things:
- The Cowboys are hoping someone sets David Irving's market value with the hopes of matching.
- The Cowboys are willing to part ways with Irving for a second-round draft pick.
There are teams out there who have more salary-cap space than the Dallas Cowboys who could easily sign him to a contract the Cowboys can't match. And, giving up a second-round draft pick for a dominating, yet inconsistent, defensive tackle is probably better than anyone they can draft.
It's not completely out of the realm of possibility Cowboys fans have seen the last of David Irving with a star on his helmet. But, it seems like a risk Dallas is willing to take, whether fans agree or not.
In 2017, David Irving recorded 22 tackles, seven quarterback sacks, six passes defensed, and one forced fumble. He did this after missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension and the last four due to a concussion. That's pretty impressive!
There is no denying Irving's impact when he's on the field, but it's all the other stuff that makes Dallas hesitant to commit fully to the 24-year-old DT.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I know what kind of person David Irving is in the locker room or off the field, but his past behavior and inconsistencies are concerning. Yes, he has immense upside, but that doesn't look as if it's enough for the Dallas Cowboys, at least not yet.
I think this ultimately comes down to the Cowboys not fully trusting David Irving just yet. Placing the second-round tender on him is more of a "prove it" kind of deal, if another team doesn't sign him away. The Cowboys probably want to see he has his head on straight and more consistency before fully committing. It's completely understandable.
It just doesn't seem as if David Irving is in the long-term plans for the Dallas Cowboys right now. I think they would be perfectly content receiving a second-round draft pick, but that decision might not sit well with a lot of Cowboys fans.
There is really no way of knowing if another NFL team will snag David Irving away, but I think the possibility of that happening is pretty high.
Will David Irving remain in Dallas in 2018?
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