Today is a day about tradition.
Thanksgiving - a day in which we are reminded just how blessed we are - comes with a multitude of different ones. There's turkey on the table, stuffing in the kitchen, rolls in the oven, families in the living room, hugs being exchanged all around, and a host of others unique to each of us.
Tradition isn't all about staying the same. Traditions change.
Thanksgiving isn't defined by the traditions, turkey, or trimmings. It's a day devoted to being grateful for every blessing in our lives: families, friends, significant others, pets, turkey, pizza, burgers, fries, or whatever life has in store for you today.
Not all of us have the picture-perfect Thanksgiving; That's what's so beautiful about this day.
Every one of us here has a different story with a different set of characters that took its own crazy, unique path. Each one of those is perfect in its own way, and each path brought us all right here.
This is the greatest game on earth and this day, beyond a multitude of other things, has become synonymous with it. Happy Football Day.
Wherever you are today... we're all together. We're all jumping after the touchdown, stunned by that call, and completely shocked that the season has already reached Week 12.
Today we're all family. A football family.
That's a tradition that will never change.
Here are my Week 12 NFL Picks.
Thanksgiving Part I: Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) At Detroit Lions (3-7)
In Chip Kelly we trust. The supposed "genius" has his Eagles team playing pretty terrible football despite the supposedly deep level of talent on their roster.
"Their defense is good!" was the latest battle cry before Jameis Winston went up to the City of Brotherly Love and dropped a five touchdown slap in the face to the Philly Faithful (all both of them). This team is how do you say... ungood?
Don't look now, but the Detroit Lions have won two games in a row. This is not a drill.
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson should theoretically combine for no less than 14 touchdowns a game, but somehow they find a way to mess that up. Not today.
The Eagles are going to tuck themselves in bed tonight thinking, "How did we let the Cowboys catch up to us so quickly? What's wrong with our team? How do people always know what two plus two is so fast without using a calculator?"
Prediction: Eagles - 16, LIONS - 27
Thanksgiving Part II: Carolina Panthers (10-0) At Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
Welcome to the show.
The sandwich of Thanksgiving Day games surrounds this big chunk of meat. The undefeated Carolina Panthers, who are amazingly underdogs in this game, taking on a Dallas Cowboys squad with a brand new batch of moxie.
Allow me to pull a Cam Newton and dab some knowledge on you for a second.
Tony Romo is the only quarterback in NFL HISTORY to defeat two opponents who entered the game with a record of 9-0 or better.
The Carolina Panthers are 10-0. Hmm.
These Panthers are a great team - a playoff team; however in the NFL the more desperate team usually finds a way to win. For that matter the better team usually finds a way to win... and the better team here is the Dallas Cowboys.
This is going to be an emotional performance for the Cowboys. They're going to give this game all they've got knowing that they have until Monday Night Football of Week 13 to rest. They are not losing this game. It's theirs. Whether the Panthers agree or not.
Prediction: Panthers - 21, COWBOYS - 27
Thanksgiving Part III: Chicago Bears (4-6) At Green Bay Packers (7-3)
The primetime game on Thanksgiving Night should be one of the most thrilling games of the NFL season - that should be a rule somewhere.
Last year we weren't treated to that great of a game when the Seahawks waxed the 49ers, and this year it's hard to be that pumped about the Thanksgiving Finale yet again.
Sure the Bears/Packers rivalry is one of the oldest in NFL History... does that really help these Bears in any way? They're awful.
Matt Forte will be back to a degree, but Martellus Bennett is out. That is no bueno for Mr. Cutler.
Brett Favre is actually having his #4 retired by the Green Bay Packers during this game which you just know is irking Aaron Rodgers down to his core. He's going to come out and put together the best game of his career so that he can show the Packer fans just who the best quarterback in franchise history is. Olivia Munn will be so proud.
Prediction: Bears - 17, PACKERS - 35
Minnesota Vikings (7-3) At Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
I believed in the Vikings last week and they broke my heart. They had a huge opportunity to send a message within their division that the NFC North was Minnesota property, but they let it slip away. Shocker.
As disappointed as I am in the Vikings, I am equally baffled at how many people think this Falcons team is anywhere near good.
"They have Julio Jones!" Alright sir, I'll give you that.
They also have now lost to the Blaine Gabbert-led 49ers and Matt Hasselbeck-led Colts. Not to mention that all six of their wins were against subpar teams and could have easily gone the other way.
Even if I didn't believe the Vikings were the better team I would still pick against Atlanta out of principle. I've been to Atlanta... it's a lovely piece of Earth, but the Falcons are garbage.
Prediction: VIKINGS - 20, Falcons - 16
Buffalo Bills (5-5) At Kansas City Chiefs (5-5)
If you felt a warm gust of wind just now it was probably Rex Ryan talking.
Seriously Rex. Enough.
Have you noticed how quiet he's been this week? It's because the Bills aren't playing Bill Belichick and the Patriots so Rex Ryan could care less. If the Bills went 4-12 with those wins being season sweeps of the Pats and Jets Rex might build his own Hall of Fame and put himself in it. You're ruining a great franchise, Rexy boy.
Another proud franchise is the one that plays ball at Arrowhead Stadium. These Chiefs are on a roll lately, and it's hard to see them regressing any time soon.
Alex Smith will go down as arguably the best game-manager quarterback of our generation... and he should. This guy does everything you need him to do, save for the game-winning play, and he'll keep it close throughout the whole contest.
Kansas City has amazingly found some playmakers in the absence of Jamaal Charles, and I don't think Rex Ryan is going to stop them. He's too busy preparing for the Bills/Pats games in 2016.
Prediction: Bills - 17, CHIEFS - 23
St. Louis Rams (4-6) At Cincinnati Bengals (8-2)
Jeff Fisher is in some hot water.
The Rams are hovering around mediocrity for what feels like the 18th year in a row under his watch, and he let a concussed Case Keenum (say that five times fast) continue playing in Baltimore last week. That's a big no-no, Jeffy Weffy.
Fisher has been prone to bad judgment throughout his time in St. Louis as he cannot turn this team into a legit force in the NFL. The Jungle is not a good place to start.
These Bengals are upset. They've lost two games in a row and all of the national chatter about them has dwindled. They're sad, guys!
I believe that emotion pushes players to new heights and helps them play out of their minds, and I also believe that specific emotion won't spark anything inside the Bengals this week. But at the end of the day they're a better team than the Rams. They'll win... ugly.
Prediction: Rams - 13, BENGALS - 17
Oakland Raiders (4-6) At Tennessee Titans (2-8)
If you've read my picks before then you know that I have believed in the Oakland Raider this season. I stand by that.
I also stand by the fact that the Tennessee Titans should be disbarred as an NFL franchise because they don't play professional quality football.
Sure, I've been wrong about some Raiders games this season. I'm capable of admitting that I was drinking the Amari Cooper Kool-Aid and bought in. This team is going to be good in a few years, mark my words, but that time clearly isn't right now.
The Titans will never be good. They're a dumpster fire. The Raiders are just less dumpster fiery.
Just win, baby.
Prediction: RAIDERS - 26, Titans - 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) At Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
I really like Matt Hasselbeck.
He's always been a fun quarterback, even back during his days in Green Bay, and he's one of the classiest guys in the NFL today.
Unfortunately for Matt, his 2015 undefeated streak is going to break in this game.
I'm as shocked as you are. Seriously. I would have told you that I'd eat 400 butterfingers if the Bucs beat the Colts back in August, but this is November and things have changed.
I really like what Jameis Winston brings to the Buccaneers. They believe in him, and that wins football games. This Colts team has shown signs of unraveling all season, and a thread is about to come loose.
Prediction: BUCCANEERS - 23, Colts - 20
Miami Dolphins (4-6) At New York Jets (5-5)
It's hard to believe that the Dolphins, who have already fired the coach that they began this season with, are just one game back from the Jets.
I maintain that the Dolphins have a lot of offensive talent, they just don't know how to use it. It's like they have one of those fancy kitchens you see on Food Network, but they insist on making cereal every day... and they even mess that up.
Early into this season you'd have expected New York to be obliterating Miami in the win/loss column, but J-E-T-S never fails.
The Jets inexplicably lost down in Houston last week, but this team has one more little run left in them before the curtain closes on 2015. They're going to hit the same stride we saw early this season for the next month or so... and then they'll be back to the normal Jets.
Prediction: Dolphins - 22, JETS - 31
New Orleans Saints (4-6) At Houston Texans (5-5)
It feels so strange to admit because they've been a dominant team for so long, but the Saints are almost terrible.
Every now and then they're capable of turning back time with an offensive performance that's big in terms of fantasy football, but they aren't a very good overall football team. It's starting to show and Sean Payton might be headed for warmer weather.
It's time for me to admit that I haven't given the Texans the proper amount of credit this season. JJ Watt is fantastic, and DeAndre Hopkins is unquestionably the real deal... but this team has more juice than just those two.
The Texans have a defense that allows them to stay in games. If they can continue to get average quarterback play, whether that's Brian Hoyer or TJ Yates, they'll have a great chance to win some games. This one included.
Prediction: Saints - 16, TEXANS - 26
New York Giants (5-5) At Washington Redskins (4-6)
This is the game that I've struggled with the most this week.
If you somehow missed the big sign on the front of this ride... I'm a Cowboys fan. There's no jive here so I'll admit that right off the bat.
I, and all Cowboys fans, want the Redskins to win. It hurts to say that. It hurts to think that. What hurts the most is it sounds like I'm just picking with my heart because the Giants seem so much better than the Redskins.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
New York has had two weeks to prepare for this game, but Washington has shown an ability to get up for big games this season. They're a way different team than the one that the Giants beat earlier in the season.
Hail To The Redskins... it's going down.
Prediction: Giants - 24, REDSKINS - 27
San Diego Chargers (2-8) At Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6)
San Diego to Jacksonville... that's a long plane ride.
Toss in the fact that everyone traveling is thinking about how they've got two less wins than the Jaguars.
I feel badly for the Chargers, I really do. It seems as if they'll be one of the teams that moves to Los Angeles and San Diego fans are going to have to remember them this way. Tsk tsk. Injuries are a part of the game and the Chargers have just been ravaged. It just wasn't meant to be in 2015, Philip Rivers.
The Jaguars are suddenly in contention for a division crown. There's new life in the stadium that features a swimming pool, and they're going to show it in this game. The "mini bye" after Thursday Night Football is always helpful, and they're going to have a great time beating up on the Chargers in this one.
Prediction: Chargers - 10, JAGUARS - 24
Arizona Cardinals (8-2) At San Francisco 49ers (3-7)
Think about this: the hopes and dreams of all San Francisco 49ers fans rest on the right arm of Blaine Gabbert. Wow.
It's truly remarkable just how different this San Francisco team is from a year ago. I can't wait for the documentary that goes in depth about it that we'll see in 20 years.
The Cardinals can't wait for Sunday because it's going to be an exercise for them. Arizona is used to draining 3s, and they're about to get a lay-up on one of those baby basketball hoops.
This one isn't close.
Prediction: CARDINALS - 31, 49ers - 9
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) At Seattle Seahawks (5-5)
This is a sneaky great and terrible game.
It's great because you've got Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant versus the Legion of Boom.
It's terrible because these two teams have not lived up to the hype that surrounded them entering this season.
Seattle hasn't been the defensive force that we're accustomed to seeing from them. Offensively they haven't been even half of that as their most stable player is an undrafted rookie running back named Thomas Rawls. No I did not make that name up.
The Steelers have had some bad luck this season. They've had Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le'Veon Bell all together on the field for a total of about 11 minutes. Obviously they're without Bell, but I don't think it'll be a challenge. I like Pittsburgh in this game, prepare for the world to criticize the Seahawks.
Prediction: STEELERS - 27, Seahawks - 26
Sunday Night Football: New England Patriots (10-0) At Denver Broncos (8-2)
The Broncos Defense is great. Cool.
Brock Osweiler played really well last week. That's great.
This game is in Denver. Yawn.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are not about to lose to Brock Osweiler's Denver Broncos. They're just not. It's simple in the way that gravity is 9.81 meters per second squared.
The Broncos are going down. Not just because of gravity, but because of the Patriots.
Prediction: PATRIOTS - 24, Broncos - 10
Monday Night Football: Baltimore Ravens (3-7) At Cleveland Browns (2-8)
You've got a busy weekend ahead. I understand that.
You might want to use this game as an opportunity to catch up on what you missed, pay some bills, or get a start on your Christmas decorating/shopping.
The lone level of interest in this contest was Johnny Manziel... who has now been benched. Yay.
The Ravens, having already lost Steve Smith Sr. for the year, are now without both Joe Flacco AND Justin Forsett. Yikes.
Lucky for Baltimore the Browns are the Browns.
Prediction: RAVENS - 10, Browns - 3
Happy Thanksgiving! What's your favorite memory from this great holiday? Who do you think is winning in Week 12? Comment below, Email me your thoughts at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me @rjochoa!
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.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Should Tavon Austin’s Role Get Expanded Against His Former Team?
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
5 Potential Candidates Cowboys Could Target to Replace OC Scott Linehan
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Texas Forever? Kris Richard Appears Closer to Staying with Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
Dallas Cowboys1 day ago
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys9 hours ago
3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
What’s Next for Cowboys Coaching Staff After Divisional Round Loss?