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With Secondary Concerns, Should Cowboys Trade For S Kenny Vaccaro?

Brian Martin

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With Secondary Concerns, Should Cowboys Trade For S Kenny Vaccaro?

If the Dallas Cowboys didn't have concerns about their secondary before Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, they sure do now. Inexperience and injuries has depleted the Cowboys secondary so much so that it has become a major concern for the foreseeable future. Luckily, a solution could be within grasp that could come via trade with the New Orleans Saints for safety Kenny Vaccaro.

The New Orleans Saints have supposedly put their former first-round draft pick, Kenny Vaccaro, on the trade block. Vaccaro was the Saints 2013 first-round draft pick and was the 15th overall selection. He possesses Pro Bowl talent, but his inconsistencies on the field have held him back so far in his career.

Kenny Vaccaro could be just what the Dallas Cowboys need to solidify their secondary. He has a versatility to play strong or free safety, and has the ability to play out of the slot as well. The Cowboys love versatility in their secondary and Vaccaro certainly provides that.

S Kenny Vaccaro

S Kenny Vaccaro

Byron Jones is arguably the most talented defensive back the Cowboys have on the roster, but he has yet to take the next step in his development. The Cowboys other starting safety, Jeff Heath, is probably best suited to be a special teams ace and reserve safety, instead of a starter. Both Jones and Heath struggled in both coverage and tackling against the Broncos, which should be a huge concern.

There were just too many times Sunday afternoon where it looked as if both Byron Jones and Jeff Heath were playing soft or out of position. There were a number of circumstances where they could've made a play for a short gain, but failed to do so. This is a huge concern because the safety position is the last line of defense.

Now, the safety position wasn't the only secondary position that didn't perform at their best against the Broncos. The Cowboys cornerbacks gave up four passing touchdowns against the Broncos and are depleted at the moment because of injuries and inexperience. Something needs to be done in order to solidify the secondary for the Dallas Cowboys.

S Kenny Vaccaro

S Kenny Vaccaro

Taking all of that into consideration, Kenny Vaccaro would likely be an immediate upgrade at the safety position. I believe he would be an excellent pairing with Byron Jones and solidify the backend of the Cowboys defense. Vaccaro's addition would also allow Jones to play some CB if needed.

Of course, Vaccaro is currently playing under the fifth-year option for the New Orleans Saints. That means he is making $5,676,000 this year, which might be more than the Cowboys are willing to pay for a one-year rental. They could however work out a short-term extension to lessen his cap hit, but they would first have to work out a trade with the Saints.

All in all, I believe that Kenny Vaccaro could come in and help improve the secondary for the Dallas Cowboys if they are able to work out a trade with the New Orleans Saints. His versatility would allow defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to do things on the backend of the Cowboys defense he is not currently able to do.

Would you be on board with the Cowboys trading for Kenny Vaccaro?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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100 Comments
  • Hobbes49

    Absolutely. He would bring a little attitude as well, which outside of Scandrick is sorely lacking. Heath is not the answer.

    • Brian Martin

      Jeff Heath is serviceable, but I think he’s best suited as a reserve safety and as a special teams ace. Kenny Vaccaro would be an immediate upgrade at SS.

      • Hobbes49

        Agreed. I really hope Chido can get over his hamstring issues. We need to see if these kids can be the future. There are signs. Maybe Xavier Woods will surprise us as well.

        • Brian Martin

          Health in the secondary would go a long ways and improving the unit. That goes for everybody. I just don’t know how much the coaching staff trust Xavier Woods right now. But, I agree. Woods could receive more opportunities if things don’t improve quickly.

        • PDidIt

          But damn, if you want hamstring problems then come to Dallas. Why is that? I am excited about our young defensive backfield, I think we may have a couple trash talking rookies with the mindset, they were good enough to drafted means they have no fear playing with the big boys.

          • Brian Martin

            Hamstring injuries are probably the most common injury in the entire NFL. The Cowboys certainly have their fair share that’s for sure. Fortunately, none of them seem to be of the serious nature.

      • http://www.runtdawg.blogspot.com Shariff Runtdawg Williams

        jeff heath is awful and always has been..think back..he been toasted ,burned and run over way too many times to still be a safety in dallas…special teams MAYBE

        • Brian Martin

          What you say is partially true, but he’s also made some big plays when given the chance.

  • Nicole Ravenell Edwards

    What about giving up Dez for Vaccaro

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t understand the frustration with Bryant. He has been the lone bright spot in the passing game. He is still a top 10 WR in the NFL. Prescott and Bryant just need to work on their chemistry and better playcalling would help also.

      • Steve Johnson

        Would slow down on top10.

        • Brian Martin

          I still believe he’s a top 10 WR. His production has slipped because he’s playing with a new QB and they haven’t been able to build that bond/trust just yet.

          • Demetrius Pearce

            I blame the coaching staff for dez& daks ‘a chemistry, they need to be more creative and find ways to get him involved in the game early to gain some type of rythm to build on throughout the game , secondly the coaches have to do better at adjusting after half time we seem too one dimensional right now ..

          • Brian Martin

            The playcalling is definitely questionable. It’s become somewhat predictable and something needs to change.

          • l.a

            Yes the play calling on offense we have so many weapons need to use them more put dez in the slot in the four wide set with either Beasley or switzer and t will and butler on the edge it would open up the run.

          • Brian Martin

            I’m pretty sure they have all of that in the playbook already. It’s just a matter of time until they probably start calling those plays hopefully.

        • Datschu

          Really Steve? You believe there’s 10 better WRs in the NFL than DEZ?

          • Datschu

            If so name them…. I’m waiting

      • Todd Bostic

        I think Dez is just there to draw his 70 mil paycheck. Cole Beasley was the leading receiver last year and Terrence Williams and Brice Butler can make up for lack of receptions Dez would have brought. I think he is more of a Jerry interest. I know the connection between him and Tony Romo was great, but Dak has a better connection with Beasley. Trade Dez and save money.

        • Brian Martin

          I really don’t understand all the hate for Dez Bryant. Yes, Prescott likes to check the ball down to Beasley, but that doesn’t mean Bryant is washed up. Honestly, it has a lot to do with the playcalling. This team has a run first mentality now which will cut down on Bryant’s targets. There is no way Dez Bryant is traded.

          • Datschu

            Bruh and he gets double covered. The d rolls safety help to him every passing play…DEZ being the weapon he is OPENS UP stuff for the other WRs… learn the game guy. Holy cow

        • Datschu

          Bruh your comments show you know absolutely NOTHING about the game and how it’s played! It’s laughable!!
          DEZ is the biggest receiving threat on the team… which means every team rolls safety coverage to HIM! Every d coordinator does that with DEZ… basically he’s double covered on every route… and he still gets his….
          learn the game before you post stupid stuff guy

          • Brian Martin

            Not only do defenses usually have a safety playing over the top, but a lot of times they have a linebacker underneath.

          • Todd Bostic

            Well, I know more than you seem to think I do, but I’ll take everything under consideration.

          • l.a

            If so we need to play more upfront man with to deep safeties and on there crossing routes hand off to the other man with a little more blitzes change up from zone to man disguise the defense for goodness sake.

          • Todd Bostic

            With the linebacking group they have, they should be able to stop crossing routes, and spy the qb pretty good. And with Moore coming off suspension, their d-line should improve now, with both sides covered.

          • l.a

            Your right cause this zone ain’t working

    • Datschu

      Nicole you win the award for dumbest question of the year

      • l.a

        Stupid comment

      • l.a

        Lmao

    • PDidIt

      Nah

    • l.a

      No sir

  • Mike in Texas

    Byron Jones is the worst safety in the NFL. Has been since day one. Three years and the guy hasn’t made a single play. I’ll take Jeff Heath over Byron Jones any day because at least every now and then Heath makes a play. Jones is soft as butter, has zero ball skills, doesn’t tackle, can’t cover, takes horrible angles, etc. The guys a complete bum and has no business being on an NFL roster. Worst player in the entire league.

    • Brian Martin

      Mike, I couldn’t disagree more about Byron Jones. He is a good safety, but a lot of things he does well for the defense goes unnoticed. Yes, we would like to see him make more plays on the ball, but he just hasn’t had many chances. I was expecting him to have a breakout year this season, but I’m unsure now. Hopefully can put everything together and finally reach his potential.

      • Datschu

        Byrons problem honestly is where they drafted him. He clearly wasn’t a first round player… maybe not even a second… but the team and media have hyped him up so much the fans expect more… period point blank

        • Brian Martin

          Byron Jones possesses first-round talent. He just hasn’t been able to develop the way a lot of us had predicted. He’s played well considering everything that he is asked to do on defense.

          • l.a

            He is as a couple others are man to man corners who needs to play bump and run

      • l.a

        With more blitzing u leave any corner on an island in soft 10 yard zone away from the receiver and u will find a spot to sit in and catch the ball every time

    • ghetto eskimo

      i can see why you would say that based off of the last game, but Byron Jones is a great player, he totally took Evan Engram out of the Giants game plan… Engram was making plays against the Lions terrible safeties in week 2, those holes were not there in Week 1…. because of Byron Jones……. look at the game when Jones matched up with Gronk… gronk didn’t score until they got him away from Jones.

      • Brian Martin

        You’re exactly right. What Byron Jones is able to do for the defense is vastly underestimated. Yes, we would all like to see him get his hands on the ball more, but that’s just going to be difficult to do because of what he is asked to do by the coaching staff.

      • l.a

        Yeah he was match up man to man

    • Freddie Washington

      I AGREE BYRON JONES SUCKS. HE NEVER MAKES A PLAY. HE NEVER GETS CLOSE TO ANYBIDY. PLEASE CUT HIM. HE IS WORST THAN THAT THIEF BRANDON CARR EVER WAS.

      • Brian Martin

        Freddie, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Byron Jones lack of turnovers is because of what and how the coaching staff uses him on defense. He is vastly underrated for how much he helps the backend of the Cowboys defense.

      • Datschu

        Calm down Freddie… he’s asked to produce by the fans more than even the team

      • l.a

        Fall back sir what are u watching

    • Datschu

      Not the worst don’t over exaggerate… the problem with Byron is where he was drafted and the team and media have hyped him up to a level he can’t produce at yet… if ever…
      THAT is the problem with byron

    • Datschu

      Mike you’re delusional…

      • l.a

        Right right

  • MLV

    Yes sir, however I dont think that will happen, the Boys seem to be in love with Heath in the secondary though his play has been average at best, since getting burnt early on, they have been hesitant in bringing in big name players from other teams!

    • Brian Martin

      I think it’s doubtful it happens also. With him being in the final year of his contract they would likely have to give up a future traffic and hopefully sign him to a short-term extension. It’s doubtful they would want just a one year rental.

  • Kenyatta Adams

    That would be a great pick up for the Boys. Maybe we could trade Butler for him pls a 6th round pick. He has speed and he can hit!!!!!

    • Brian Martin

      I doubt the Saints are looking for another WR. They seem to be pretty deep at the position. But, trading a player isn’t a bad idea. Maybe someone like Tyrone Crawford, but I don’t see that happening either.

  • CWZ34

    I would be on board for any upgrade at the safety and db position. My question is would the Jones’s even trade for an upgrade. If they didnt do it before the preseason or season, knowing they needed upgrades in the backfield or at least some veterans to help guide the rookies, more in likely they wont during the season.

    • Brian Martin

      They were hopeful that some of these young defensive backs would be able to the step up and take over as starters. Unfortunately nearly all of them have been dealing with injuries the majority of the off-season. I kind of doubt the Cowboys make a move, but I believe they will keep all options open.

  • Steve Shepard

    “Hell Yeah, I Would Love To See Kenny Vaccaro & Byron Jones holding down the Last Line of Defense for the Cowboys !

    • Brian Martin

      I think they would make a really good starting duo.

    • Freddie Washington

      Vaccaro is from the Longhorn Safety Machine. He would fit in well at Dallas with their interchangeable schemes.

      • Brian Martin

        I completely agree. He has been stuck playing on a bad Saints D, so everybody associates him with losing. He is a good player that has been surrounded by mediocrity. I think Kenny Vaccaro and Byron Jones would make a really good starting duo.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I don’t know if that is a knee-jerk or not. Nate Newton had the answer after the Denver beatdown. He said to get the new guys into the game because what they experienced last Sunday was what usually takes 3 or 4 games. Play Xavier Wood and Kavon in heavy rotation with Heath/Byron. Let Jourdan Lewis, Brown and Awuzie (probably not Chidobe this week, but next week) get the reps with Scandrick. Let Carrol sit/back-up. If you look, Wood and Lewis both stuck their noses into that grinder. Xavier was even up in the slot. The other thing is, Wood was all over the field during the Rams preseason game Lewis was definitely”next man up” and pulled down his 1st interception. My own thought is bring Byron in as CB/S and do the same with Awuzie. Chidobe played both in Colorado. It’s a wrinkle.
    In other news, we are back to one Elliott. Jayrone was released and now we have 2 Moores. It makes me speculate that Hitch is returning sooner over later.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    I say yes 4 the right price why not it will be a Big improvement in secondary right now. Thanks

    • Brian Martin

      The asking price may be the only hold up. But, I highly doubt the Cowboys make this kind of a move. I think they like what they have on the roster right now more than most people.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    Xavier woods is going lay the wood down sooner than later as a Safety.Thanks

    • Brian Martin

      That’s what were all hoping. Woods has the talent to be a starting safety, just needs to get up to speed and gain more experience.

  • CashfloFromSTL

    We need some fresh air in the secondary definitely. My concerns are really at CB. Our two rookies are very raw right now, and needs to brought alone slowly. I wanted Joe Haden. Now’s not the time to mess around. We need secondary help!

    • Brian Martin

      Joe Hayden is vastly declining as a player. If you watch him with the Steelers he is being used and abused at will. QBs are targeting him and completing passes. I like our young CBs, they just need to get healthy and get on the field. Both of them can start right now if they were fully healthy.

  • billy jack

    come on jerry make the deal

    • Brian Martin

      It’s highly doubtful, but it is fun to debate.

  • Javier Enrique Zetina Pinelo

    definitivamente seria mejor que heath y gran ayuda aunque también hay que pensar que los tackles defensivos solo tuvieron una tacleada cada uno por lo que denver corrió lo que quiso y hay que parar primero la carrera para preocuparse después del pase observen el juego de dallas 0.9 yardas por tierra y 50 pases se necesitan urgente mente tackles defensivos y hay que ver las dificultades de dez bryant para lograr separación en este partido también teniendo que empujar para lograrlo y ser superado en lo alto en zona de anotación los vaqueros necesitan un receptor numero 1 urgentemente y de ser posible un numero dos no pueden seguir perdiendo pases corriendo malas rutas no logrando separación demasiadas necesidades básicas un 7-9 muy logico

  • Rodney Simpson

    I agree Dallas wanted to draft him out of college and heath is good but he looked tired Sunday. I also wish everyone would address the 400 pound elephant in the room. That team looked tired from the elevation issue no excuses i get it. But I have never saw the O line struggle to block anyone or Ron Leary sold us out the Broncos knew what was coming pre snap watch the game

    • Brian Martin

      The reason Jeff Heath looked tired Sunday night was because he played more snaps on defense plus he played nearly every special-teams unit. We’re just going to have to chalk up the Broncos came to a bad performance and hope everyone is able to bounce back.

      • Rodney Simpson

        I agree so you don’t believe the elevation had nothing to do with all of the players looking tired missing tackles and assignments the whole game ? Just wanted to hear your opinionBut yes we must get over it DC4L

        • Brian Martin

          The elevation may have affected them a little bit, but not enough to warrant the poor play of nearly everybody. Teams know what they’re getting into when they play in Denver and prepare themselves accordingly. The Cowboys simply played bad.

          • Rodney Simpson

            I agree on to the next game !

  • Pete186

    HELP !!! HEATH IS NOT A STARTER !!! With 15 Mill under the CAP what are we waiting for ?

    • Brian Martin

      I’m still holding my judgment on Jeff Heath’s performance until little later in the season. We are just two games into the 2017 season, but he could definitely play better.

  • Datschu

    Why would be trading for this guy be so great when the writer just said that KVs issues are the same that Dallas current safeties currently have?
    Why add another safety with untapped “potential”?

    • Brian Martin

      I think Kenny Vaccaro’s issues in large part have to do with how bad the Saints defense has been. I still believe he is a good player and would be an upgrade at the safety position.

  • PDidIt

    Hell yeah! We liked him coming out and The Saints grabbed him. It would make all the sense in the world.

    • Brian Martin

      I agree, but I kind of doubt it happens. I think the Cowboys like the players currently on the roster more than we probably do.

  • l.a

    Yes for a 3rd or 4th round pick but put him out there with Xavier woods and put Byron at corner with Orlando and either lewis or chidobe

    • Brian Martin

      I think he could be had for a 6th honestly. And that’s the great thing about him. I provide so much flexibility among the Cowboys defensive backs. There really endless possibilities of how to utilize each player.

      • l.a

        Then they need to start Monday or we will see the same all year long

  • l.a

    This is the nfl they need to show something different every game and only switch it up when it is broke if u watch game film we only run zone schemes half the time and we don’t send zeke on enough passing routes offense to simple to pick up and we run into blitzes to much

    • Brian Martin

      I agree that the playcalling has become somewhat predictable. I was really surprised that they didn’t try to get the ball in Zeke’s hands in the passing game against the Broncos. Something needs to change.

  • l.a

    Then they need to grab him now

    • Dan

      You can’t have a safety that won’t stick his nose in. Jones has got great athleticism, he can cover but that’s not that valuable when they guy can’t catch. But the biggest thing for me is he plays scared which IMO is a non-negotiable if he’s defending in the box. He simply won’t attack the ball carrier, he’ll coral and wrap up, never hit. He’d be my no.3 safety on dime packages covering a TE until his contract runs out, and no way would I be taking up the 5th year option.

      • Brian Martin

        I don’t really think Byron Jones play soft. He is best as a deep safety and that’s how they typically use him. He is usually in man-to-man coverage and not around the line of scrimmage to make a tackle. And honestly, I don’t mind his wrap up tackling. I don’t like hard-hitting safety going for the knockout shot, only to have the ballcarrier bounce off them and pick up extra yardage.

        • Dan

          He’s typically used as a deep safety but is usually in man to man coverage?……..Walk me through that.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree on the softness thing. I get not liking guys whiffing on big hits but there’s a balance between always looking to knock a guys lights out and making business decisions. And IMO Byron Jones definitely has a crisp white shirt, tie and pin stripes on.

  • l.a

    More blitzes and hands up by the De line with more push from the dt

    • Brian Martin

      I doubt we see more blitzes until the Cowboy secondary settles in

  • l.a

    More Xavier woods let’s go cowboys

    • Brian Martin

      I could see him utilized more in some sub packages. I don’t think he’s ready to take over as a starter just yet though

  • Tristan Hays

    Yeah of course it would be nice to sign him but we know that wouldn’t happen. We don’t shit like that. They are going to need to bring in a dominate D-linemen and a really good secondary player. Until we do that this will keep happening! We better beat Arizona but after that the schedule doesn’t get any easier…

    • Brian Martin

      I kinda doubt it happens to, but it’s fun to debate/discuss. Finding a dominant DL or secondary players going to be nearly impossible at this point the season. That’s why the draft is so important, because teams hang on to their really good players.

  • Anthony Ceniccola

    I like the idea, I think dallas liked him a lot in that draft and I agree he would be an upgrade in the secondary. I would trade a 5th for sure.

    • Brian Martin

      A 5th would be as high as I would go. I honestly think that a 6th would do it.

  • Ravi Campbell

    First of all how can u ask if we’d be on board with a trade when you haven’t even suggested who the cowboys might give up for him? Second, no I’m not on board to sign a player at this stage who doesnt know Marinelli’s system, and if he’s on the trading block u need to ask yourself why? It’s only one game, let’s see how this plays out before we freak out and throw in the towel

    • Brian Martin

      It was a hypothetical trade question, hence not suggesting what the Cowboys might have to give up to obtain him. But, if you’re asking, then I think they could probably get him for a 6th round draft pick in 2018. Secondly, Marinelli’s defense is rather simplistic and wouldn’t take long to get up to speed. In the meantime, he could be used in sub packages until he was ready to be a full-time starter. And the reason he’s on the trade block is probably because the Saints are probably trying to get some kind of compensation before he leaves via free agency. They don’t want to sign him to a long-term contract because they have a young player (Von Bell) waiting in the wings. And I’m not freaking out at all about the Cowboys after last week’s performance against the Broncos. I was merely throwing it out there that the Cowboys could possibly upgrade the safety position by trading for Kenny Vaccaro.

  • Tim Rafferty

    The only concern , as you indicated early in your article was ” hasn’t live up to his potential ” . Is this a byproduct of talent OR the seeming carocel of defensive schemes that have left that unit as a whole ” without ” directions ” ? Also what draft capital would it cost us ? What’s the probability he fits our future salary cap situation ? Our RTG is about to buy a island of his choice . I know we have a extension for our RTT but assuming he plays well , I see LC becoming another Eric Williams . ( The only player iv every seen MAN handle the great Reggie White )

    • Brian Martin

      I think he hasn’t lived up to his potential because he has been moved around on defense and he’s playing on a talent poor Saints D. I really think a change in scenery will help him reach that potential and become a more consistent player. I honestly believe that a 6th round draft pick next year would be enough to trade for him. But, the Cowboys would likely want to work out some kind of extension, either short or long-term to help with the salary cap. I’m not too worried about them re-signing OG Martin. That contract will be done at some point. I don’t think it would dissuade them from signing any other vet players. The salary cap increases every year also.

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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: Week 15 Impact Games

Jess Haynie

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Making Sense of the "Garrett Guys" Behind Cowboys Dez Bryant Release

It's hard to believe that we're looking at the Dallas Cowboys potentially clinching the NFC East this week, but that's how dramatic the turnaround has been over the last five games. Week 15 could lock Dallas into the playoffs and give them a lot of freedom over their final two games.

If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (11-2)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
  3. Chicago Bears (9-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
    ----------------------------------
  7. Carolina Panthers (6-7)
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
  9. Washington Redskins (6-7)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Cowboys lost to Seattle earlier this year, but still remain the 4th seed as a division winner over a wild card team.
  • The Panthers are ahead of the Eagles thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • The Eagles are ahead of the Redskins thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. They play each other again in Week 17.
  • The Redskins beat the Panthers earlier this year, but their loss to Philadelphia within their own division negates that tiebreaker.

In truth, there's not much intrigue left for the Cowboys in this regular season. One win gives them the NFC East, and it would take the Saints or Rams dropping all three of their remaining games for Dallas to have a shot at a top-two seed.

So, barring the nearly impossible, Dallas is locked into either the 3rd or 4th seed. They will host one of the Wild Card teams in the first round of the playoffs.

The biggest thing to watch now is how the seeding shakes among the bottom four playoff teams. The Seahawks seem a cut above the likes of Minnesota, Carolina, or one of our NFC East friends, so avoiding them in the first round would be lovely.

Here are this week's games involving the NFC playoff contenders:

Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts

We've already discussed what the Cowboys need to do, so let's talk about the Colts. Not only do they have home field advantage this week, but they are fighting for their playoff lives.

Indianapolis is one of four teams with a 7-6 record battling for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos are also in the mix at 6-7, giving none of these teams any cushion for losing.

Dallas has its own incentive to win, though. If they want to avoid Seattle in the first round, they probably need to take the #3 seed from the Chicago Bears. They need to keep winning and hope for the Bears to drop a game or two.

Ultimately, getting into the playoffs and starting at home is a huge reward. But anything that can help make the road a little easier is worth pursuing. It's no time to rest on your laurels.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

As we just discussed, we'd like to see Chicago drop a few games to give Dallas a shot at the #3 seed. This week isn't the worst opportunity, with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay still not completely eliminated from playoff contention.

Expecting much from the Packers here is unwise. They've had a coaching change and appear to be in a state of organizational disarray. But they still have Rodgers, and crazy things always happens in rivalry games.

So while these are two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, you never know what could happen given the variable elements. By all means, root for the Cheeseheads.

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings

Your rooting interest here comes down to a simple question; who do you prefer to play among that last bunch of Wild Card teams? Who does Dallas match up best against between the Vikings, Panthers, and Eagles?

I think we'd all agree that we don't want to see the Eagles a third time. Beating a team three times in one year is tough to do, and especially given how close last week's meeting was.

The Panthers beat Dallas in the season opener, but that was in Carolina and well before the Cowboys were playing at a high level. A second meeting could go very differently, especially with the recent slumping by the Panthers.

Both Carolina and Minnesota are struggling, with one on a five-game losing streak and the latter having lost their last two. The Vikings just fired their offensive coordinator, so neither of these teams appear to be going into the postseason with any real momentum.

At this point, I'd say it's a toss-up between the Panthers and Vikings. Both are much preferable to seeing the Eagles again, so I would just keep rooting for both to win. In either case, they knock out Philadelphia.

We'll reassess the threat level of Carolina and Minnesota as playoff opponents in a few weeks.

Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars

I didn't mention the Redskins among those last three teams because they may not win another game this year. Their QB situation is so bad that even the Jaguars look good by comparison.

Granted, Jacksonville is lousy right now. Washington might be able to go down there and get a win, but neither team has anything to play for now. This one may come down to whether or not the Jaguars have gone into tank mode.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Seattle just walloped the Niners 43-16 a couple of weeks ago, and changing venues is unlikely to make that much difference. The Seahawks are a legit NFC contender and San Francisco is already thinking about the offseason. A Seattle loss would be great, but it ain't happening this week.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

While catching the Rams and getting a top-two seed would be great, it's barely plausible. The far more concrete benefit here is seeing the Eagles lose and getting them further away from a possible Wild Card spot.

In fact, an Eagles' loss this week would give Dallas the NFC East even if the Cowboys fall in  Indianapolis. That's not the way we want to win the division, but you take what you can get.

With the breaking news that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week with a back injury, you'd generally think this suits the Cowboys' interests. But Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is still the backup in Philadelphia, so is anything really for certain?

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

We have every reason to root for Carolina here. For one, it helps the Panthers stay ahead of the Eagles in the Wild Card race. Also, it brings the Saints one loss closer to possibly being caught by Dallas. A Saints win doesn't really benefit us all.



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Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

The Dallas Cowboys came away with a huge win against their division rival Philadelphia Eagles, putting them in a commanding position in the NFC East. They're up two games in the division and one of the more underrated story lines from the victory is Ezekiel Elliott's game. He had a huge day that no one is talking about.

Elliott had 28 carries for 113 yards and then caught 12 passes on 13 targets en route to his big performance in the 29-23 win over the Eagles. That's probably the quietest 40 touch, 192 total yard game you'll ever hear about. And yet, that's where we are. Please read that stat line again, because in all of our talk about Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and the defense, Ezekiel Elliott's stat line is absolutely ridiculous.

The receiving element that Elliott is providing the biggest difference to the offense this season. He's been a huge asset to Dak Prescott in the passing game as both a primary target and a check down option in the short part of the field. If Elliott isn't showing that he's the best running back in the league, with what he's doing with a broke down offensive line, then people will never give him the credit he's due.

For the last three years, the Dallas Cowboys and their fan base has known what an elite player the Cowboys have in Elliott. He's easily one of the best runners in the NFL, but if you talk to the general NFL fanbase or analysts around the league, Elliott doesn't get the same kind of love as players like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell receive from the national media. The knock against Elliott has been that he doesn't bring the same value as a receiver. With what he has done over the last six weeks, and really all season long, it's safe to say, that won't be a knock against the Cowboys All-Pro running back.

Among running backs this season, Ezekiel Elliott ranks sixth in targets (77), fifth in receptions (65). seventh in yards (502), and is tied for 12th in receiving touchdowns with three. Elliott is the seventh highest rated running back when targeted among running backs with at least 50 targets this season.

Over the last six weeks, since the Amari Cooper trade, only Christian McCaffrey has more targets, receptions, and yards than Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott's previous career high was in 2016 when he caught 32 passes on 39 targets. With three games left in the season, Elliott has more than doubled his previous career high from that season. Over the last six weeks, he's caught 40 passes with an average of 6.7 receptions per game.

Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best total yardage season in the NFL. If he continues at his current per game averages, Elliott would finish the season with 330 carries for 1,553 rushing yards, 80 catches on 100 targets for 618 yards and 10 total touchdowns. He's been great this year, but he's been even better over the last six games. At his per game averages for the last six games, over a 16 game season, Elliott's numbers would look like this; 363 carries for 1,715 yards rushing, 107 receptions on 120 targets for 872 yards, and 13 total touchdowns.

It's rare that Ezekiel Elliott has a game like he did on Sunday and it goes largely unnoticed by Cowboys Nation, but that's just how tremendous Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were. In a game where the Cowboys got big games and big plays through the passing game, it was Elliott's steadiness that held things together and helped sustain drives like the fourth and one conversion in overtime. Even with Amari Cooper elevating his game since coming to the Cowboys, there's no question that Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys best skill position player. Expect more big games for Elliott as the Cowboys continue to "Feed Zeke."



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