Welcome to Week 15 of the 2015 NFL season!
This is a pretty exciting time in the world.
Star Wars premieres tonight, Christmas Eve is seven days away, and the NFL Playoffs are upon us!
With just three games left on the schedule for each team there is still a lot at stake. We'll see more movement in the standings over this time as there is in the conga line at your work Christmas party.
Here's who's winning this week.
Thursday Night Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) At St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Color Rush... yay.
There will be two eye sores on the football field tonight, and they'll be wearing new jerseys each (ba-dum-psh!).
Famous Jameis and his Bucs will travel to the Edward James Olmos (something like that) Dome and look to continue highlighting that Jeff Fisher's squad is the epitome of mediocrity.
You know how your Mom says not to say anything at all if you can't say anything nice? Todd Gurley is good at football. Don't say I didn't say anything about you, Rams.
Prediction: BUCCANEERS - 23, Rams - 13
Saturday Night Football: New York Jets (8-5) At Dallas Cowboys (4-9)
Look at that! Football on a Saturday that isn't college. Quite the nice change of pace, isn't it?
The New York Jets are flying high into this game with, surprisingly, one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Their defense? It's no spring chicken either. They get after you a lot on both sides of the ball.
The Cowboys are coming off of another trouncing, this most recent one happening in Green Bay. If you read my Plan V post then you know that these Cowboys... they're not going anywhere.
I'm not a fan of tanking, but I'm also not a fan of being wrong. Give me New York, easy.
Prediction: JETS - 31, Cowboys - 10
Atlanta Falcons (6-7) At Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)
I am not going to stop reminding you that the Falcons were once 5-0. People legitimately believed in them. I hope they all learned their lesson.
The Falcons are one of the worst teams in the NFL and the four hundred time winners of that coveted award, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are starting to shed that label.
Jacksonville is on the rise, on the rise I tell you! They'll personify Atlanta's little motto "Rise Up" all over the scoreboard on Sunday.
Prediction: Falcons - 23, JAGUARS - 42
Buffalo Bills (6-7) At Washington Redskins (6-7)
This game is going to frustrate Dallas Cowboys fans.
The Bills are going to come out and take care of business against Washington leaving us wondering, "what if...".
Why's that? Well because the Redskins are the Redskins. Jordan Reed is going to have himself a game, but so is Tyrod Taylor. Circle the wagons.
Prediction: BILLS - 24, Redskins - 19
Chicago Bears (5-8) At Minnesota Vikings (8-5)
The Bears have surprised us all by being a competent football team this year. Maybe we need to start giving John Fox more credit as a Head Coach? Nah, maybe later.
The Vikings are surprising no one this year as they were a popular sleeper pick for the playoffs back during Training Camp time.
Minnesota did shock the world when they hung with the Cardinals a week ago all the way down to the end. People knew they were good, but no one thought they would be that good.
Prediction: Bears - 18, VIKINGS - 30
Tennessee Titans (3-10) At New England Patriots (11-2)
Say all of these things out loud with me.
The Tennessee Titans.
The New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick. Tom Brady.
Too da loo, Tennessee.
Prediction: Titans - 13, PATRIOTS - 33
Houston Texans (6-7) At Indianapolis Colts (6-7)
It's hard to tell who is playing quarterback in this game with all of the injury news. Heck for all I know, it's you and me slinging the rock on Sunday!
The defense that we've come to expect from the Texans was a little absent last Sunday, but hey that was the Patriots.
The Bulls on Parade will return against the Colts... who are having arguably the most disappointing season across the NFL.
Prediction: TEXANS - 23, Colts - 16
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) At Baltimore Ravens (4-9)
I don't know whether I'm more confident in that the Chiefs are really awesome or that the Ravens are really terrible here.
I know that the Chiefs are going to put it on the Ravens this year, as they've been quietly doing to teams over the last few weeks.
Sure KC barely escaped San Diego last week, but the Chiefs are on fire! The Ravens? What's the opposite of fire? Water?
The Ravens are on water.
Prediction: CHIEFS - 29, Ravens - 16
Carolina Panthers (13-0) At New York Giants (6-7)
It's going to seriously pain me to tell you what I'm thinking.
It would not shock me at all if the Giants won this game.
The G-Men have made it a habit over the years to ball out when the most is on the line. Coming off of a big win on Monday Night Football... they could do just that.
A big reason for that is that the Panthers are starting to pile up the injuries. Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart, sorry fantasy owners, are the most recent casualties. Cam is Superman though, and I'll trust that.
Prediction: PANTHERS - 30, Giants - 26
Cleveland Browns (3-10) At Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
I hope you remember how to say things out loud with me.
The Cleveland Browns. THE CLEVELAND BROWNS.
The Seattle Seahawks.
The 12th Man.
Prediction: Browns - 10, SEAHAWKS - 37
Green Bay Packers (9-4) At Oakland Raiders (6-7)
Packers fans should not be too happy right now.
In back to back weeks they've barely beaten the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. They're building a huge line of dominos and they're about to slip and accidentally dip one over.
Khalil Mack might have already sacked Aaron Rodgers. He's on that level of fire right now. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and the Mack Truck? Oh boy do I like that.
Prediction: Packers - 16, RAIDERS - 24
Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) At San Francisco 49ers (4-9)
No Andy Dalton? Hmm.
AJ McCarron is going to look for AJ Green all over the field and AJs everywhere will celebrate! RJs kind of count, too.
The Niners are... well they're there.
Prediction: BENGALS - 26, 49ers - 10
Denver Broncos (10-3) At Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
Remember when the Broncos had one of the most stout defense in the NFL? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?
Denver is going to need that defense to really show up this week if they want to even compete with Pittsburgh. The Steelers have the most explosive offense in the NFL and you can bet they want a change to prove it against an "elite" defense.
Pittsburgh is about to start peaking at the right time. They're dangerous. Watch out.
Prediction: Broncos - 13, STEELERS - 27
Miami Dolphins (5-8) At San Diego Chargers (3-10)
The Dolphins and Chargers had all of our hopes up when this season began... those were good times.
Miami is a mess, I'll just leave it at that.
This could be the last game ever played in San Diego for the Chargers. They know it. They're not losing it.
Prediction: Dolphins - 16, CHARGERS - 22
Sunday Night Football: Arizona Cardinals (11-2) At Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
It'll be at this point in the day where frustration reaches maximum level for Cowboys fans.
All you'll be thinking about, while the Cardinals are pummeling the Eagles at their house, is how the Redskins and Giants both lost today.
This season sucks.
Prediction: CARDINALS - 32, Eagles - 20
Monday Night Football: Detroit Lions (4-9) At New Orleans Saints (5-8)
It was only four years ago that the Lions in New Orleans was a Saturday Night Wildcard Game in the Playoffs.
These two teams are a long ways away from that day.
The Lions should have had a super long week of rest after a well earned victory, but fate intervened and robbed them of that.
The Saints? They're cute, but they're a flash in the pan this year.
I wish they were from East Dillon (shout out if you know the reference), but I'll take the Lions.
Prediction: LIONS - 20, Saints - 10
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 Cowboys3 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 Cowboys7 days ago
What’s Next for Cowboys Coaching Staff After Divisional Round Loss?
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys
Player News2 weeks ago
Allen Hurns Injury: Status, 2019 Prospects, Teammate Reactions
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
It’s Time To Stop Doubting the Dallas Cowboys