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
Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?
Fortune favors the bold. It's a rough translation of an old Latin proverb and the mantra I believe the Dallas Cowboys should indoctrinate this offseason.
I think it's time the Dallas Cowboys start to make a few bold moves. I truly believe they are close to competing for a championship title and one or two offseason moves could increase those odds. One such move would be to sign restricted free agent (RFA) Shaquil Barrett to an offer sheet.
It's expected that the Denver Broncos will place a second-round tender on Barrett and I think the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to explore the possibility of signing him to a contract sheet. If Denver declines to match the offer, the Cowboys would then send them their second round draft pick as compensation.
You on board?
Probably not at this point, but let me try to explain why I believe this is a good move on the Cowboys part, even if it is an uncharacteristic one.
You see, the Cowboys could definitely use someone to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and I think Shaquil Barrett could be the solution.
I know it sounds like a lot to give up a second round draft pick, but the Cowboys have been deplorable at drafting players in the second round the past decade. Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, and possibly Jaylon Smith have really been the only "hits" the Cowboys have found in the second round. That's simply unacceptable!
So, why not use that second rounder to acquire a player who is already a proven commodity in the NFL?
I know the first thing a lot of you are going to do is to look up Shaquil Barrett's stats to see what he has accomplished in the NFL. But, stats don't always show the big picture.
You see, Barrett has been stuck behind some pretty talented pass rushers in Denver, so his statistics aren't going to jump off the paper. But, when given the opportunity he has proven he deserves a larger role. That's where the Dallas Cowboys come in.
The Broncos probably don't have the money to keep Shaquil Barrett if the Cowboys sign him to a contract sheet. It doesn't necessarily even have to be a big money contract offer. The Broncos simply don't have the salary cap to do much, especially considering they are still looking for a starting quarterback.
I honestly like the idea of the Cowboys going after Barrett. You may have forgotten, but he gave a healthy Tyron Smith fits last season.
With an injured Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett got the start against the Cowboys in 2017 and finished the game with two quarterback hits, six QB pressures, and five stops. No other player found that kind of success against Tyron Smith all season, even when he was banged up.
Unfortunately, when Shane Ray returned, Barrett's usage on defense declined. That's why you can't always judge a players productivity by statistics. You have to judge him more on a per-snap basis, and if you do that you will discover he was very effective as both a pass rusher and run stopper.
I believe Barrett is ready for a full-time role. Yes, he has been used as a standup 3-4 OLB with the Broncos, but he has the required traits to put his hand on the ground and maintain his effectiveness.
The downside to all of this is the Dallas Cowboys would have to give up their second-round draft pick, but draft picks are sometimes overvalued anyways. Shaquil Barrett is probably better than anybody the Cowboys could draft in the second round, so I say pull the trigger.
Should the Cowboys sign Shaquil Barrett to a contract sheet?
Could a Former Division Rival be Cowboys’ LG Solution?
When it comes to prioritizing the Dallas Cowboys offseason needs, offensive guard is definitely near the top of the list. Opinions will certainly vary, but for me, solidifying the offensive line with a new starting left guard is the top priority for the Cowboys.
I know many of you will disagree and believe the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to upgrade their defense. But, this teams success or failure will be determined by how their offensive line performs. That's just the way the Cowboys are built, which is why they have invested so heavily putting this unit together.
Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive line is set in stone, but there is currently no one on the roster to step into the vacant left guard position unless you want to see the coaching staff give Chaz Green another try.
No, I didn't think so.
With the start of the 2018 free agency just a few weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys have certainly narrowed down some of the potential free agents they would be interested in bringing aboard if the price is right. Remember, they have turned into "bargain shoppers".
There are a few intriguing free agent options who I believe could step in to upgrade the LG position for the Cowboys next season, and not break the bank. One such option is a former division rival of the New York Giants, Justin Pugh.
The former 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has spent five years in New York while playing out his rookie contract, but that time has come to an end. The Giants aren't likely to re-sign him, which means he will get his first taste of free agency.
Justin Pugh could step in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at the left guard position in 2017. He has exceptional mobility. He reaches the second level with ease and plays with good body control and footwork. He is a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme like the Cowboys employ.
Pugh is also versatile. He has played both right tackle and offensive guard for the Giants. He of course would be asked to play between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at LG with the Cowboys, but versatility to play another position is never a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Pugh doesn't come without baggage. He has missed a total of 13 games over the last two seasons with the Giants, including eight last season due to a back injury. This is definitely a huge red flag, especially for the Cowboys after dealing with the same issue with Tyron Smith.
But, this is why Justin Pugh will likely be in the Cowboys price range. Sportrac currently estimates his contract at 4 years at $23,983,847, which equates to $5,995,968 annually. I personally think that's a little low for someone of Pugh's caliber and versatility, but it certainly understandable when you take into account his recent injury history.
I personally think this is a longshot to happen because the Cowboys would prefer to go younger and cheaper, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think Justin Pugh makes sense for the Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Sadly, we can't wake up on Sundays to NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are not on TV every week for us to watch them play. To make matters worse, we'll have to wait until September to get real football from our favorite team.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about until then! For the die-hard Cowboys fan, the offseason should be quite entertaining. Free agency will begin in March, and it should be an intense one for Dallas.
They need to handle a tight salary cap while trying to add a bit of help for this football team. Recently, Inside The Star Contributor John Williams wrote an in-depth piece about the Cowboys' cap situation and how they can manage to get things done, despite having little cap space right now.
Last season, I wrote a weekly Cowboys Wishlist about things I wanted to see for each game. Now there are no games, but I decided to write a special edition for this upcoming free agency.
Wish #1: Keep The Rushmen
The front office will have one hell of a challenge trying to retain all of its free agents. The two most important ones may be their two defensive linemen. If they can keep them, DL won't be a top need heading to the Draft.
Lawrence is one of the biggest names in free agency this 2018, but the Cowboys should find a way to keep him from ever being available.
If they're able to franchise tag him, that'd be the way to go since he's only had one elite season in his four-year career and they may not want to sign him to a huge long-term deal and risk not seeing the same guy next season.
David Irving is a more polarizing player, with off-the-field issues. However, he's been a very disruptive guy and he has the chance to be a unique player. His talent is really out of this world. Keeping him and Irving would give this franchise a top defensive line for the first time in many years.
Wish #2: Pay Anthony Hitchens
When healthy, Sean Lee is one of the NFL's top linebackers. He is simply an outstanding player who's always around the ball and seems to know where the ball is going before the opposing coach even calls the play.
The problem is, he has a lot of trouble remaining available. Anthony Hitchens is a guy who's found the way to step up every time the General is out, and he's shown a great progression as a player year after year.
Lee will be 32 by the time the season starts, giving Dallas something to think about. Hitchens is a guy capable of starting and competing in the NFL. If the front office finds a way to keep him, they'll be getting closer to being less "Sean Lee-dependent."
Wish #3: Get Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas
When we talk about a potential big name addition to the Dallas Cowboys, we're usually a bit pessimistic. This team isn't one that makes splashes like this, but Earl Thomas to Dallas makes a ton of sense. Former Seahawks' defensive coordinator is now the Cowboys' defensive backs' coach.
With Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis (and maybe Byron Jones moving to CB), this team will have a promising secondary. Add Earl Thomas, and it will go from "promising" to "great" in a heartbeat.
The Cowboys could not only have a top DL, but a top secondary if they're able to get this veteran.
Let's hope the Cowboys listen to Thomas and they go get him.
Wish #4: Get Dez Bryant to Take a Pay Cut
When I started writing this, I wanted to add a "get this wide receiver in FA"... but I won't. A few weeks ago, I wrote a case in favor and one against Dez Bryant remaining a Cowboy in 2018. Personally, I would be fine with him parting ways with the team.
However, I'm aware of how hard it can be finding a replacement for a guy like #88. The biggest issue with Dez is definitely his cap hit. He hasn't justified the money he's being paid on the field as he should be.
If they can get him to take a pay cut, it may end up being the ideal scenario for the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be a very interesting offseason, and here at Inside The Star we'll continue to provide you with content about it all.
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