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.
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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