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.
Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten’s Game?
Jason Witten is 37 years old, retired from the NFL after the completion of 2017 season to try his luck as an announcer in the booth, but has now decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys? It seems a little unrealistic to think he can come back after a year away from the game and pick up where he left off, but it sounds as if he's like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jason Witten has been the talk of Dallas Cowboys OTA practices so far. These practices are unpadded and basically just an opportunity to do install some of the offensive and defensive plays, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the things that has been somewhat surprising though is how talked up the future Hall of Famer has become.
Here is what Head Coach Jason Garrett had to say recently about Jason Witten's return:
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
The main thing that stands out from Garrett's quote to me is how Jason Witten looks just as good, if not better after not playing at all in 2018. To think that his testing numbers are possibly even better is unfathomable. We typically don't see NFL players in their mid-30s retire from the game and then return just as good, or maybe even better than they were before.
Maybe that's just what Jason Witten is, a little inhuman. Maybe he's found the secret to turning the clock back just a little bit. Or, maybe he found the fountain the youth and didn't tell anybody. Regardless, there's no doubt Witten will be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys offense, especially if he's gained a step.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm hoping the year away from the game did him some good. I honestly thought he made the right decision to retire prior to the 2018 season. It just looked like father time was catching up to him in 2017. But, hopefully all he needed was a little time away from the grind he's been putting his body through for over a decade.
Whatever he's done hasn't gone unnoticed though. Even Quarterback Dak Prescott has noticed and said he's on to Witten's scheme.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
I'm not afraid to admit I wasn't too excited to see Witten come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys at first. I was skeptical he could be the player he once was after a year away from the game. But, all of this talk about him looking as good as he once was, perhaps better, has me really looking forward to seeing him on the field once again.
Do you think a year away has rejuvenated Jason Witten's game?
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Cambio en La Ofensiva
Los Dallas Cowboys tuvieron un interesante 2018. La ofensiva dejo mucho que desear toda la primera mitad de la temporada cuando carecían de un receptor número uno. No fue hasta media temporada cuando consiguieron a Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, que la ofensiva comenzó a verse realmente amenazante. Siendo sinceros, el cuerpo de receptores de los Cowboys lucía muy débil al inicio y Michael Gallup aún no conseguía mucho tiempo de juego en el emparrillado. Incluso una vez en el equipo, a pesar de las grandes hazañas de Cooper en Dallas, la ofensiva no terminó de dar el siguiente paso.
Sí, con Amari en el equipo vimos un equipo de Cowboys que movía constantemente las cadenas e incluso se convirtió en una de las mejores unidades en tercera oportunidad en la liga, pero no fue suficiente. Los problemas en zona roja persistieron y continuamos viendo una selección de jugadas muy cuestionable semana tras semana.
Es por eso que al finalizar la temporada, la administración de los Cowboys finalmente tomó una decisión muy anticipada. El entonces coordinador ofensivo, Scott Linehan, fue despedido.
En cuanto a talento, los Dallas Cowboys no verán un cambio mayor en su ofensiva. Cole Beasley, uno de los mejores WR slot en la NFL, firmó con los Buffalo Bills durante la agencia libre. A pesar de la llegada de Randall Cobb, la ofensiva probablemente extrañará bastante a Beasley. Además está el regreso de Jason Witten al campo, quien se repartirá el balón mucho con los jóvenes del equipo, principalmente con Blake Jarwin. Por último, Travis Frederick podría estar de regreso como el centro titular. Fuera de eso, no se anticipan cambios de jugadores en la ofensiva.
Y a pesar de esto, la afición de los Cowboys espera ver un cambio grande entre la ofensiva del 2018 y la de 2019. Si las cosas salen bien, así será. Pero más que por el talento del equipo, que ya está ahí y es un muy buen talento, deberá ser por el hombre al mando.
Kellen Moore ha tomado las riendas como el nuevo coordinador ofensivo y finalmente podremos ver su potencial. Muchos han criticado a Moore, en gran parte por nunca haber sido un quarterback exitoso en la NFL. Sin embargo, hay muchas razones por las cuales deberíamos estar emocionados.
Desde que Moore salió de la universidad de Boise State, se le veía como un prospecto muy inteligente. Incluso analistas como Jon Gruden (en ese entonces conductor del programa de ESPN Gruden's QB Camp) mencionaban que Moore probablemente no sería un gran mariscal, pero que tenía la mente de un coach.
En Boise, Moore trabajaba con la ofensiva del actual coach de los Washington Huskies, Chris Petersen. Esta ofensiva es una muy complicada que le exige al mariscal saber casi tanto como un jugador profesional. Muchos han descrito a Moore como un genio ofensivo que será un gran coach en el futuro.
Para los Cowboys, Kellen Moore será una pieza clave en 2019. Si vemos una ofensiva realmente diferente, será gracias a su creatividad y filosofía que implementa a un grupo bastante talentoso en Dallas. Los jugadores están ahí, ¿sabrá el coordinador ofensivo de 30 años aprovecharlos?
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
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