I hope you brought your sequin jacket, iconic glove, and slippery shoes... we're emulating the King of Pop today.
I've been thinking a lot about the 1992 Dallas Cowboys lately hoping that if I rekindle enough memories they'll seep over into reality and the 2015 version of America's Team will produce similar results - sitting in the locker room at half time of the Super Bowl well on their way to victory.
While Jimmy Johnson and his staff made the appropriate adjustments to finish off the Buffalo Bills the field at the Rose Bowl was occupied by none other than Michael Jackson... who gave one of the more memorable Super Bowl Halftime Performances that we've ever seen. You can re-watch the halftime show here:
One of the best performaces of the "King of Pop - Michael Jackson". Super Bowl Half Time Show performed in California at January 31, 1993, it includes Jam, Billie Jean, Black or White, We are the World and Heal the World.
So put on that gear that I told you to bring (you were supposed to bring it!). We're about to moonwalk our way down my Week 10 NFL Game Picks with the help of the one and only MJ.
Thursday Night Football: Buffalo Bills (4-4) At New York Jets (5-3)
Michael Jackson Theme: Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
That's right the ballad that Chris Rock channeled in the legendary Rush Hour 2 is the MJ theme for this game. Why? Rex Ryan will not stop until he gets enough... which is a limitless amount.
The former Head Coach of the New York Jets, now with the Buffalo Bills, proved again this week that he is starving for attention. Maybe Rex is just trying to distract the attention so that his players aren't under too much pressure? Or maybe he just truly wants this game to be referred to as "Rex Bowl I."
Rex Bowl I is tonight only on @nflnetwork! @DanHanzus breaks down all you need to know https://t.co/We0x38TBug
Sorry, Rex. The Jets defense is better than your version was the last few years and they've got a litany of offensive weapons. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are going to have themselves a game as Rex fumes on the sidelines.
Prediction: Bills - 13, JETS - 27
Chicago Bears (3-5) At St. Louis Rams (4-4)
Michael Jackson Theme: Man In The Mirror
Jay Cutler was... good on Monday Night Football? Really?
It's hard to tell what you're ever going to get from the Bears. They certainly have a lot of offensive playmakers, but Jay Cutler supposedly ruins everything that he touches. Namely the football.
The Rams lost a really close game last week in Minnesota, and while Todd Gurley is amazing... Jeff Fisher is kind of the Jay Cutler of coaches. You never know exactly what's going to show up you just know that you don't really want to be a part of it.
Take a good hard look in the mirror guys and make a change.
Prediction: Bears - 16, RAMS - 22
Cleveland Browns (2-7) At Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4)
Michael Jackson Theme: You Are Not Alone
The Browns are so bad. So freaking bad.
It seems that everyone has a different opinion on whether Johnny Manziel is a capable NFL quarterback, but everyone has the same opinion in that Josh McCown will never win a Super Bowl. This franchise is in a tailspin, as it has been since its re-establishment, and they themselves don't know what they want from Johnny Football. Wouldn't playing him be a good way to figure that out? Just my two cents.
The Steelers are almost as injury-riddled as the Cowboys. Big Ben may play, may not, who cares? I could line up behind center for them and get the ball to Antonio Brown enough times to beat the Browns. The only people alone in this game will be the Cleveland faithful. You guys deserve better.
Prediction: Browns - 16, STEELERS - 33
Dallas Cowboys (2-6) At Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
Michael Jackson Theme: Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
I said you wanna be starting something is right! The Dallas Cowboys' season is one step away from full-on life support. Tony Romo is coming back in Week 11 so we need to get something going in his absence.
If you read my recent Don't Stop Believing, Part Deux remix here at Inside The Star then you know that in order for the Cowboys to win the division this game has to serve as the spring board. Matt Cassel and the offense looked, dare I say, good against the Eagles last week. Look for them to pick up where they left off and the Rode Marinelli defense to finally start to live up to their offseason hype.
Prediction: COWBOYS - 27, Buccaneers - 17
Detroit Lions (1-7) At Green Bay Packers (5-2)
Michael Jackson Theme: Beat It
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have lost two games in a row for the first time since 2010 (the year they won their Super Bowl at Jerry World).
He is not a happy camper. Aaron is in fact so mad that he threw a Microsoft Surface on the sidelines in Carolina last week, but hey what a team leader without any sense of disruption on their sidelines? Right, MJ?
While I do think it's unfair that ARod isn't being scrutinized for that I also think that he has to "show them that he's really not scared" and is absolutely going to on Sunday. He's going to exorcise some serious demons and beat it out of the Lions. Rawr.
Prediction: Lions - 12, PACKERS - 38
Carolina Panthers (8-0) At Tennessee Titans (2-6)
Michael Jackson Theme: Smile
Who has a better smile than Cam Newton?
Superman has plenty of reasons to show off his pearly whites these days as his MVP-caliber performance has the undefeated Panthers playing some seriously awesome football.
The song says that you should smile "though your heart is aching, smile even though it's breaking," but the only broken hearts around here will be those of Titans fans. The Panthers are going to demolish them. As impressive as the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner, Marcus Mariota, has been... this is too tall of a task for the flyin' Hawaiian.
Prediction: PANTHERS - 24, Titans - 13
Miami Dolphins (3-5) At Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)
Michael Jackson Theme: Smooth Criminal
"It was a Sunday, what a black day."
I hope Annie is ok because the Dolphins are going to need her, and so is Cowboys Nation. I don't know what that means... you try relating Michael Jackson songs to every football game of the week!
Ok I feel better. Annie is going to help the Dolphins this week. The Eagles have been really suspect lately and if the Dallas Cowboys defense could have actually gotten to Sam Bradford they would have indeed had a black day last Sunday.
That's where Ndamukong Suh, who I've affectionately dubbed "Annie" for this game, is going to come in. The Dolphins paid Suh a ton of money to come in and help them win games... and he's going to get it done. The Fin offense is capable of showing up whenever Ryan Tannehill feels like not being terrible and will be this Sunday. ANNIE ARE YOU OK?
Prediction: DOLPHINS - 24, Eagles - 22
New Orleans Saints (4-5) At Washington Redskins (3-5)
Michael Jackson Theme: You Rock My World
The Saints are high on my love list these days. They already took care of the New York Giants for us and now they're going to annihilate the Redskins for us.
Drew Brees is straight BALLIN right now so if you have him in fantasy football you better suit him up. Rock on, Drew.
Oh and the Redskins suck. There's your analysis!
Predictions: SAINTS - 33, Redskins - 13
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) At Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
Michael Jackson Theme: They Don't Care About Us
This game is a snooze fest.
If you've been reading my picks for the last few weeks then, first of all, I love you. Second of all, I've been really high on the Jaguars. And you know what? They've come close a lot of times that I've picked them.
A real captain goes down with his ship. Give me the Jaguars over a mediocre Ravens team who has no idea who they're going to throw it to in the absence of Steve Smith Sr..
Prediction: JAGUARS - 30, Ravens - 23
Minnesota Vikings (6-2) At Oakland Raiders (4-4)
Michael Jackson Theme: P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
I want to love you, Vikings and Raiders.
This is one of my favorite Super Bowl rematches in the history of pro football. Super Bowl XI saw the Raiders claim their first World Championship as Fred Biletnikoff earned MVP honors over Bud Grant's Vikings.
These Raiders are fun, man. Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper... what a pretty young thing. They're going to expose the Vikings this week. Bam.
Prediction: Vikings - 16, RAIDERS - 24
Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) At Denver Broncos (7-1)
Michael Jackson Theme: Remember The Time
Peyton Manning has been trying to "remember the time" all season long. The Sheriff has struggled in 2015, but the Broncos have not.
Denver suffered its first loss last week in Indianapolis, a team Peyton has yet to beat since moving to Denver, but they get the helpless Chiefs now.
Kansas City really doesn't have anything to get excited about offensively and that's tough cookies because they're up against perhaps the best defense in football (who is without the suspended Aqib Talib). Me no likey.
Prediction: Chiefs - 10, BRONCOS - 17
New England Patriots (8-0) At New York Giants (5-4)
Michael Jackson Theme: Thriller
Thriller is one of the greatest music videos of all-time. It's got zombies and all kinds of creatures bustin' a moove.
Tom Brady and the Pats are going to have to wake up something from the dead because they have not beaten the New York Giants since Week 17 of the 2007 season (also the last time that they played in New York).
This game is going to be a thriller in the sense that there's "no escaping the jaws" of the Patriots this time. The Giants' luck against them has run out. The Patriots are "out to get you," New York.
Prediction: PATRIOTS - 44, Giants - 27
Sunday Night Football: Arizona Cardinals (6-2) At Seattle Seahawks (4-4)
Michael Jackson Theme: Love Never Felt So Good (Feat. Justin Timberlake)
This is one of the new-age MJ songs that came out after his death. It was a chart topper a year or so ago, so it's relatively new. So is the rivalry between these Cardinals and Seahawks.
This is going to be quite the game on prime time Sunday Night. I love the Cardinals in every aspect of it over the Seahawks... sorry Ciara. Look for a great game that the Cardinals find a way to come out on top of.
Prediction: CARDINALS - 29, Seahawks - 27
Monday Night Football: Houston Texans (3-5) Cincinnati Bengals (8-0)
Michael Jackson Theme: Black Or White
The Houston Texans are believing in miracles right now with the injury to Andrew Luck, but a miracle will not be happening this night.
This game is all about good and bad, aka black and white. The Bengals are good... the Texans are bad.
Prediction: Texans - 16, BENGALS - 38
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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