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
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
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.
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