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Week 10 Playoff Projection: Cowboys Rising the Ranks

Jess Haynie



Cowboys Headlines - Tweet Break: Bryant, Prescott, and Elliott Won't Be Denied As Cowboys Roll to 10-1

As I do every year at the mid-season turn, this week marks the beginning of my annual Playoff Projections. As long as the Dallas Cowboys are in playoff contention, each week we will look at the NFC standings and the games on the schedule that could impact Dallas’ playoff positioning.

After a scary 2-3 start to the season, the Cowboys have won three-straight games and pushed their way back into the top six. It helps that only seven of the 16 NFC teams have winning records at the moment.

Here are the current NFC standings. With much season left to go, we’ll include all of the teams with .500 records or better.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
  2. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
  3. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
  4. Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
  5. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
  6. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
  8. Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
  9. Detroit Lions (4-4)
  10. Washington (4-4)
  11. Green Bay Packers (4-4)
  12. Arizona Cardinals (4-4)


  • The three-way tie between the Saints, Vikings, and Rams will have a lot more clarity as the season goes on. The Saints (5-1 against NFC) are ahead of the Vikings (4-1) and Rams (4-2) right now because of a better record in conference play. Even though Minnesota beat New Orleans in Week One, the Rams make it a three-way tie so the head-to-head tiebreaker doesn’t apply. However, the Vikings and Rams play each other in Week 11 and then the Saints and Rams meet in Week 12.
  • The Cowboys have a slight edge over the Seahawks because of a 4-2 record against NFC opponents, with Seattle at just 3-2. They will play each other in Week 16 in Dallas.
  • The five-way cluster of 4-4 teams is all based on in-conference play. It’s too early in the season to worry about that.  We’ll see how these teams factor in the playoff picture as things move along.

The Cowboys are currently looking good for one of the Wild Card spots and, of course, still have two games left with the Eagles to try to catch them. This week they face a critical game against a solid NFC opponent. Let’s take a look at that, plus all of the other Week 10 games that may have a bearing on these NFC standings.

Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons

The Cowboys bring their winning streak into Atlanta to meet the reigning NFC Champions. The Falcons have struggled with Kyle Shanahan’s departure to San Francisco and are not close to the offensive juggernaut they were last year. What’s more, their once-vaunted home field advantage as vanished. They are 1-2 at home this season and only 10-9 since 2015. The Cowboys have a better road record (12-8) over the same span of time.

Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals

Tonight’s game is a big one for Seattle, who can’t afford to take their division rival lightly even without Carson Palmer. It’s a short week and a road game for Seattle, who’s offense still has some issue that the Cardinals’ defensive stars could exploit. While Arizona doesn’t project to be a factor in the NFC by the end of the season, they’re still in the hunt and will be motivated to win.

New Orleans Saints @ Buffalo Bills

The Saints have been a big surprise this year, but a cold day in upstate New York may be an issue for their finesse offense. The Bills are also a strong team at 5-3 and have the weapons on both sides of the ball to win. This should be one of the best game of the week.

Minnesota Vikings @ Washington

Another of the better games this week, the Vikings take a four-game win streak into Washington. Despite losing Dalvin Cook and Sam Bradford, Minnesota keeps finding ways to overcome thanks to a great defense and solid play from QB Case Keenum. It may be tough this week, though, against a 4-4 Washington team who is desperate to keep their season afloat.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

Much like the Cardinals, the Packers will likely fall out of the race soon without their starting quarterback. The Bears would love to hang a loss on their hated rival, but do they have the talent to do it? Brett Hundley may still be better than Mitch Trubisky at this point.

Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions

The Lions get a gift this week with the Cleveland Clown Show coming to town.

Houston Texans @ Los Angeles Rams

The Rams’ electric offense shouldn’t have much trouble against the struggling Texans. With J.J. Watt gone, Houston is barely average and particularly bad against the pass. The Rams should be able to keep their stunning season on track.

Miami Dolphins @ Carolina Panthers

Despite allowing 179 points this season and only scoring 116, Miami has a 4-4 record. That’s almost the same scoring margin as the Browns or Giants, who are a combined 1-15. Something tells me the Panthers will handle their business.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie



Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.


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Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady



Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day.

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.


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Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin



Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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