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!
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
Though Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys’ Offense
When the news broke Monday that veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb was visiting the Dallas Cowboys, most immediately assumed he would be a logical replacement for the departed Cole Beasley.
When you take a look at the film and each of their skillsets, however, you quickly see this is likely not the case.
While Cobb would be able to play in the slot as a receiver for the Cowboys if he signs, his value extends much further than just a slot receiver. Where Beasley makes his mark with precise route running, short area quickness, and 3rd down reliability, Cobb is much more of a threat after the catch. He's not the route runner that Beasley is, and really isn't an upgrade over Beasley as a receiver, but Cobb would be able to help the Cowboys' become more diverse in their offensive schemes.
Similar to Tavon Austin, Randall Cobb can be used in pre snap motion and jet-sweep packages, as well as a traditional running back. A college quarterback, Cobb's versatility is what makes him so attractive to NFL teams. Cobb would actually fit more of the Lance Dunbar "scat back" role of sorts for the Cowboys than that of the Cole Beasley slot receiver role. His versatility, however, allows him to carve out a lane within the offense which they haven't quite had before.
Another area Cobb could help the Cowboys is when the play breaks down. With experience in the Packers offense playing with arguably the greatest improviser we've ever seen in Aaron Rodgers, Cobb would be able to help Dak Prescott down the field when he breaks the pocket and the play is off schedule.
So often last season we talked about how the Cowboys offense is reliant on remaining on schedule, staying in front of the chains and not having to force the ball downfield. Unleashing the Mississippi State version of Dak Prescott, where he can improvise and use his legs to create big plays, tends to be when this offense is at its best, however.
Randall Cobb won't be a Pro Bowler if the Cowboys sign him, and depending on the money he receives, it might not even be a lock that he makes the final roster. But Cobb would be an exciting addition to a Cowboys offense which has lacked "creativity" over the last few seasons, and is looking to reinvent themselves to a certain extent.
A receiving corps headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, with versatile weapons such as Cobb and Tavon Austin behind them, is a pretty good one to head into draft day with.
Signing Cobb would keep the Cowboys from "needing" to take a wide receiver early in the draft, and would allow them to easily shed Allen Hurns if a receiving weapon did fall to them at 58th overall.
Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas?
When it comes to making trades, the Dallas Cowboys are typically the buyer and not the seller. They proved that last season when they acquired Tavon Austin, Jamize Olawale, and Jihad Ward via trade and could be looking do the same once again this offseason. That's why today I want to talk about the Cowboys putting in a call to the San Francisco 49ers to inquire about potentially trading for Solomon Thomas.
New 49ers Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek is rumored to be evaluating Solomon Thomas' film in order to determine his fit and future with the organization moving forward. This is no easy task. In his two years in the league they've tried Thomas at DE and DT, but unfortunately the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has yet to find his footing at either position.
Being a man without a position doesn't bode well for Solomon Thomas, especially after the 49ers acquired Defensive End Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs last week via trade. The 49ers are suddenly stacked along the defensive line. That's not all though, things could actually get worse for Thomas.
To further complicate matters, the 49ers could use their second overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft on the either Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. If that's what indeed happens, someone is going to be the odd man out. If you haven't guessed it yet, I think that player could be Solomon Thomas.
As a former high first-round draft pick, Thomas would count $7,678,468 against the salary cap in 2019 and $8,958,213 in 2020. That's probably more than the 49ers want to pay for a rotational/backup defensive lineman. And cutting him this season would create $16.6 million in dead money, so a trade is the logical solution.
With all that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco put Solomon Thomas on the trade block any day now. He is only two years into his four-year rookie deal and comes with a fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick. That means if a team does trade for him they have him under contract for essentially three more years.
If you add all of this up, it makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They need defensive line help and Solomon Thomas needs a fresh start. The Cowboys would get a young versatile defensive lineman and the 49ers get to dump his contract while also receiving some compensation in return. It's a win-win for all parties concerned.
I know what you're thinking though. What would the Cowboys have to give up in the trade? Well, it might not be as much as you think.
Fortunately, Thomas' failure to make an impact his first two years in the NFL favor the buyer, in this case the Dallas Cowboys. He has only four career quarterback sacks, three of which came in his rookie season. Stats of course don't always tell the entire story, but game film does. Unfortunately for Thomas, he can't escape his poor play.
I believe it wouldn't take more than a 2019 fourth-round draft pick to get Solomon Thomas away from the 49ers. Remember, just last season the New England Patriots sent a third-round draft pick to San Francisco and received Offensive Tackle Trent Brown and the fifth-round pick in return. Brown was a more proven player and was in the last year of his contract.
I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of Solomon Thomas in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. If anybody can tap into his potential, Rod Marinelli can. Giving up a 2019 fourth-round pick is well worth the gamble in my opinion.
Do you think the Cowboys should inquire about trading for Solomon Thomas?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Realistic Free Agents Cowboys Should Sign Before the Draft
NFL Draft6 days ago
Hypothetical La’el Collins Trade Could Recoup Cowboys a 2019 1st-Round Pick
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
Cowboys Show Interest in Browns DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Player News6 days ago
Chiefs Release Eric Berry, Should Cowboys Be Interested?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
REPORT: Cowboys Keeping OL Joe Looney, WR Tavon Austin, WR Allen Hurns in 2019
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Should the Cowboys Use Their 2020 First Round Pick in 2019?
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
7-Round Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Post-Combine Edition
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign DL Christian Covington