For the last few weeks, the question has been asked, are the Dallas Cowboys the best team in football? Yes, the Seahawks victory in Seattle should be a good indication, and winning 6 games in a row is another. But there’s one team in my opinion - who can’t run the ball like the Cowboys (Honestly, who can?) - that has a tremendous edge on defense.
1. Denver Broncos (5-1)
The Broncos put a beat down on San Francisco. If the game would have been closer it’s very possible the number two team would be sitting here. But Manning was on fire Monday night as he passed Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes at 509, and that defense is starting to really making its presence known.
2. Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
The Cowboys are coming off their 6th win in a row. And you can argue there isn’t a hotter team in the league right now. Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray (Who by the way broke a 56-year-old record held by hall of famer Jim Brown) and Dez Bryant are known as the new triplets. Their defense didn’t have its best game, but one thing they did do was shut down the run, and that had been a big area of concern for this team. If they can get a win against the Redskins and then the Cardinals the following week, I’ll have no choice but to put them down as the best team in football.
3. Indianapolis Colts (5-2)
Andrew Luck is playing light outs football. Many people aren’t talking about him as an MVP candidate, but I think he deserves to be in the same breath as Rivers, P. Manning, and DeMarco Murray. The Colts D held the Bengals to a goose egg. If that defense continues playing like that, the Broncos are going to have some company for favorites out of the AFC to reach the Super Bowl
4. Arizona Cardinals (5-1)
Before the season started, the cards were looked at as possibly the third best team… in their own division. Now that’s not really a knock because you have the Hawks and Niners over there as well. But who do we have leading that division by 1 ½ games? That’s right, those Cardinals of Arizona.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
The Eagles are coming off a bye after giving the Giants a beat down the week prior. If their defense plays like that for the rest of the season, they're gonna be hard to beat.
6. Detroit Lions (5-2)
The Lions have two of the best defensive tackles in the game, and both are playing for new contracts. So that means trouble for the rest of the league. The Lions are also winning despite being without all-universe WR Calvin Johnson.
7. Green Bay Packers (5-2)
Aaron Rodgers is playing the best he’s ever played. And that is just frightening for the rest of the league. The Pack still has questions on defense but they are certainly playing better these days.
8. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)
The Ravens are back to playing good defense (Not Ray Lewis Defense) and Steve Smith SR continues to show everyone why he still belongs in the league. As long as their defense can continue to get better, they'll make a serious push.
9. New England Patriots (5-2)
I still can’t help thinking about the beating this team took a couple of weeks ago at the hand of the Chiefs. I know it’s just one game, but they looked awful. Tom Brady has hushed the media by playing up to the greatness everyone is used to seeing from him. Injuries to starters Jared Mayo and Steven Ridley are going to hurt this team in the long run and might end up being too much to over come.
10. San Diego Chargers (5-2)
I know some people may think I’m crazy for putting the Chargers at #10 with as great as Phillip Rivers has been playing, but their defense is going to need to step up for this team to continue to be considered one of the best teams in the league. Losing to the Chiefs at home didn’t help, but it was a divisional game and those games can always go either way. But for me, it comes back to their defense and that’s why they are ranked #10.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
The Chiefs have beat two top 10 teams in my power poll, but they are so Jekyll/Hyde. It’s still a big leap for them compared to other power polls. Those guys are doing really well, considering all they've lost on defense. And they just won a game on the road against one of the hottest teams in the league, too.
12. San Francisco 49ers (4-3)
It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Niners were looking like Super Bowl contenders. But the smack down they took from the Broncos has raised a lot of questions. Once considered one of the best offensive lines in the league, they've been decimated with injury and overall poor play. Their defense hasn’t been anything like it was in the past. Although a lot of that has to do with the absence of Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman. Both are expected back at some point this season...
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Like the Chiefs, you just don’t know what you’re going to get with this team. And the win against the Texans showed how they’ve played so far - like seller dwellers for part of the game, then like world champs the other part of the game. Again, consistency pays off when you actually have some.
14. Seattle Seahawks (3-3)
They should drop out of the top 20 after falling for special teams trickery twice by the Rams. But, they are still the champs and Russell Wilson is putting up Madden video game numbers. Teams don’t fear these guys anymore. You can thank the Dallas Cowboys for that.
15. Buffalo Bills (4-3)
These next few teams really could all go in this spot. But I mainly picked the Bills to go here because they won. Kyle Orton has this team playing with some hope. They were hit hard at the running back position, losing C J Spiller and Fred Jackson for a lengthy amount of time, so any hope at all is a good thing.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (3-3-1)
There is something going on with the Bengals, and it isn’t good. Not only did the Colts dominate them, they got embarrassed. But I think it was the Bengals embarrassing themselves more than anything else. Their defense has been lit up two games in a row. One of those games by the Panthers, and those guys don’t exactly have a lot of offensive weapons.
17. Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)
I know this team is missing Greg Hardy, but this defense is nothing like the 2013 defense. The Panthers will probably end up winning the NFC South, but it could be by default. Cam Newton is having to carry this team, and I don’t think he’s at the level where he can carry a team like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
18. Miami Dolphins (3-3)
The Dolphins pulled off a bit of a shocker by going into Chicago and beating DA Bears. If their offense can match their defensive production, they could push for a wild card spot in the playoffs.
19. Cleveland Browns (3-3)
Just when you think the Browns could be on to something, they go down to Jacksonville and pull a stinker. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back, because if they don’t do it in a hurry, Johnny Football’s name will be heard loud and clear from Ohio.
20. New York Giants (3-4)
They gave the Cowboys all they could handle, but their defense let them down once again. Their run D is horrible as teams have put up well over 300 yards rushing on them in the last two weeks. Eli Manning isn’t good enough to carry this team like his brother. Could be the start of a really long year in New York.
21. Chicago Bears (3-4)
I know, I know. They have so much talent on offense, but these guys aren’t clicking. Their defense isn’t much of a defense any more. If there was one thing you could count on going in to a football season, it would be that the Bears would have a good defense. Well, not this year.
22. New Orleans Saints (2-4)
Rob Ryan had this defense turned around, right? This team was supposed to push for a Super Bowl appearance. Not happening! Drew Brees is turning the ball over and their defense hasn’t gotten back to 2012 bad. But they’re not as good as the 2013 Saints defense.
23. St. Louis Rams (2-4)
I went with the Rams here because I think their defense has too much talent to keep playing so badly. Unlike the Texans, the Rams have a QB for the future in Austin Davis.
24. Houston Texans (3-4)
They are better than last season, but not a whole lot better in my eyes. They have no chance with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB and if their defensive front doesn’t get pressure, they don’t have anyone that can cover in the secondary.
25. Atlanta Falcons (2-5)
Went with the Falcons here because I felt their talent is better than their record. But it just isn’t coming together for this team. Their defense is horrible and doesn’t show any signs of getting better. Like other QBs mentioned, Matt Ryan isn’t good enough to carry this team by himself.
26. Washington Redskins (2-5)
Could their season be saved by Colt McCoy? Probably not, but it is good to see the guy show everyone that he can play in this league.
27. Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
Not enough talent on both sides of the ball for this team this year. Teddy Bridgewater gives them some hope for the future. This team had a fighting chance with Adrian Peterson, but without him, the Vikes don’t have enough anywhere else to make any kind of noise.
28. New York Jets (1-6)
Yes they’ve only won one game, but you can’t overlook the fact they have a good defense. Kudos to them for sticking with Geno Smith and giving the guy a chance. If they would have given him some real weapons earlier in the season, who knows what might have happened.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
The Jags still have a long ways to go, but their defense has shown they can bring the heat. Who knows, maybe they can string together some wins now that they finally got their first one under their belt.
30. Tennessee Titans (2-5)
The titans have an okay offensive line, annnnnd that’s about it.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)
This team is bad, really bad. I’m not sure why people thought Lovie Smith was a miracle worker because obviously he isn’t.
32. Oakland Raiders (0-6)
Well at least you know you got a top 5 pick in the draft next April and you didn’t have to wait that long to find out.
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.
I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.
Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.
Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.
Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.
After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.
This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.
If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.
With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.
He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.
Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog1 day ago
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Star Blog2 days ago
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Do the Dallas Cowboys Have Any Trade Assets?
Star Blog1 week ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?