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Week 2 NFL Game Picks

RJ Ochoa

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NFL Blog - Week 2 NFL Game Picks

Week 1 sure flew by fast, didn't it? We're one full game into Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season (thanks to Jamaal Charles and his well-timed fumble on Thursday Night Football) and we've got more hot cakes coming out of the oven tomorrow!

The early part of the season is always so much fun. Everything feels so new and fresh, there are no bye weeks, and the Oakland Raiders are kind of relevant. Last week hope ran eternal for all 32 teams, but half of them walked off the field as losers.

Who will join the Denver Broncos as Week 2 winners? You've come to the right place to find out.

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)

Victor Cruz can use pregame warmups to help decide whether he wants to start OBJ or Julio Jones in his fantasy lineup as this game figures to have some big plays made by some big-time wide receivers. The Giants are coming off of one of the most gut-wrenching losses in recent memory, and Eli Manning's leadership is already in question just one game into the season.

Dan Quinn's version of the Atlanta Falcons looked pretty feisty on Monday Night Football earlier this week. I believe that their pass rush is going to get after Elisha, I mean Eli, and force him into his usual habits of general unawareness. Atlanta is going to cruise to victory over a mentally defeated Giants team, something like 27-10.

New England Patriots (1-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)

It's kind of adorable how obsessed Rex Ryan is with Bill Belichick. I get that he's hyper competitive and is going after the kings of the division, but dude Rex just chill out once in a while.

Ryan's Bills circled the wagons all around the Indianapolis Colts last week as their elite pass rush repeatedly got to Andrew Luck. Marcell Dareus is returning from his one-game suspension so you'd figure that the defensive line will be even more loaded.

If there's one thing that we've all learned about the Rex/Belichick "rivalry" it's that when Bill is silent he is preparing to drop a hammer on Ryan. The Patriots will have had 10 days to prepare for this game, not to mention that they are out to send a message to the world, and with the Bills selling air pumps in their team store you just have to figure that they are poking the beast. Belichick and Brady do their thang - Pats win 24-20.

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)

The Cardinals are returning to the city where they were born to take on the Chicago Bears. Jay Cutler and Co. actually put up a decent fight against the Green Bay Packers last week, and while I don't think it was a fluke... I'm starting to buy in to this Cardinals team.

Bruce Arians is a heck of an NFL coach and gets guys to play at an elite level. Carson Palmer looks 10 years younger all of a sudden. I expect John Brown to have a huge game and the Cardinals to really limit Matt Forte as they win a boring one, 17-10.

San Diego Chargers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

This could be one of those random shootouts that when you keep refreshing Twitter you say, "THEY SCORED AGAIN?!".

I really like both offenses in this game, save for Andy Dalton, and the Cincy defense is no joke. Fantasy players probably spent the past week plastering pictures of AJ Green on milk cartons, but I think he's going to take over this game and carry the Bengals to victory something like 38-35.

Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

The Heisman House might as well just be an RV that follows Marcus Mariota around. The second overall pick will become the first quarterback in NFL History to make his first two starts against Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks. How cool is that?

Beyond the Heisman hype, the Tennessee Titans looked good last week. I understand that you, me, and Miss Sally down the street could look good against the Bucs... but are the Browns really that much better? Chip Kelly is going to be watching this game with his I Heart Marcus shirt on as the Titans win an easy one 23-6.

Detroit Lions (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1)

It seems way too early to dub any of these "must wins" for a team, but it'd be tough cookies to fall to 0-2 and 0-1 in your division so soon in the season.

Detroit played well in a loss against the Chargers last week, but Minnesota just got absolutely Tomsula'd on Monday Night Football against the 49ers. At least I think that's what happened, it was hard to tell with Trent Dilfer yelling at us the whole time.

The Lions are a legit team that came within minutes of winning a playoff game last year. They'll find a way to put it together and pick up their first W of the season - Lions win 27-23.

St. Louis Rams (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)

The Rams might sack Kirk Cousins 73 times. Seriously.

Nick Foles knows this team well so I don't think he'll have any huge problems, but the Redskins managed to limit Ryan Tannehill last week so I don't think the Rams will score a whole lot. I do think that Pierre Garcon is going to have a surprisingly nice game with DeSean Jackson out though. Look for St. Louis to win a game that's the leading candidate for you to take your nap during, 17-13.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)

Remember that whole "you don't want to fall to 0-2 and 0-1 in your division" thing? Yea, totally happening to the Bucs this week.

Jameis and the Succaneers are going to get pulverized by the Saints. Drew Brees and his toys didn't have too fun of a day in Arizona last week, but their offense showed signs of some explosiveness. Not every defense is as good as Arizona, and New Orleans is going to prove it when they win handily 31-7.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

As I typed the names of the teams I knew that I was going to take the Steelers, but you know what? Jim Tomsula is a wild card, man.

Some coaches just have a knack for getting their guys to get up for games. I think that Tomsula is one of those cats. The Steelers have a crazy loaded offense even without Lev Bell, and even with Antonio Brown going off my gut says that the Niners still find a way to compete. Give me San Francisco in a close one, maybe a game-winning field goal, 30-27.

Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)

I watched all of Hard Knocks and to be totally honest I came away from it as a big fan of Bill O'Brien. He seems like a really cool, really down to earth dude that loves football.

I am not a fan of switching quarterbacks the second week of the season. Is Brian Hoyer great? Of course not. Is Brian Hoyer even good? Probably not. If I had to trust Brian Hoyer with a football would I? Not in a million years! Nevertheless, you don't yank him after just one game. Cam and Co. are going to dance around JJ as the Texans continue to implode, 24-10.

Baltimore Ravens (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Even if Derek Carr plays, the Ravens are going to stampede the Raiders. Amari Cooper is a fun guy to watch, it's just a shame that he has such little talent around him.

The Ravens are going to be very hungry after a loss against Denver last week. I do think that they'll get off to a slow start though, they are traveling across the country after all. Give me Ravens 23-9.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

Can you imagine a real-life fight between a Dolphin and Jaguar? How entertaining/weird/fascinating would that be?

The Dolphins came out pretty flat last week in Washington, but I think a lot of that was just the usual Week 1 rust. I expect Tannehill to get the gang going in a Sunshine State showdown as the Jaguars prove once again why they're the Jaguars. Dolphins win 31-17.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)

Losing Dez Bryant hurts. Duh.

Being an Eagles fan hurts way worse. Duh.

The Chip Kelly experiment is on the line this weekend because if the Eagles lose the sky is going to start falling in Philly. I actually really like the spot that the Cowboys are in coming into this game - no Dez means no pressure to win. If the Cowboys lose then you can very easily sum it up to that, "Oh well we were without Dez... of course we lost."

The pressure is HIGH on Philadelphia in this game. They're 0-1, they could be 0-2 with a loss, they'd be 0-1 in the division with a loss, AND 52 guys on the roster have the added pressure of proving that DeMarco Murray chose the right team to go play for.

The Eagles don't seem mentally tough enough to handle all of that and I think that they're going to cave under all the pressure. Cowboys win this one 31-14.

Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)

The last game that the Seattle Seahawks won was against the Green Bay Packers.

The last game that the Green Bay Packers lost was against the Seattle Seahawks.

Russell Wilson and his Hawks have never lost to the Packers. While Lambeau Field is a tough place to play, I just don't see it happening Sunday night. Seattle is going to mix Jimmy Graham in nicely (Russell will finally have some time in the pocket without playing against St. Louis) and they're going to win easily.

I know what I just said, r-e-l-a-x. Aaron Rodgers threw some touchdowns to James Jones last week - cool. Odds are heavily stacked against him doing it again. The Packers are going to miss Jordy Nelson a lot in this game as they lose 27-20.

New York Jets (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

Can I just say that I am so excited for a Super Bowl III rematch?

The Jets and Colts squaring off is one of the more underrated uniform matchups that there can be, and I'm going to enjoy every second of it on Monday Night Football.

If Antonio Cromartie doesn't play then Andrew Luck is going to have a nice fantasy stat line, but I think that's going to be it for him. The Colts seem like a classic finesse team that can't handle intense pass rushes... and the Jets are going to bring the house.

If the name above #14 said something besides "Fitzpatrick" then we'd all praise Ryan a little bit more. He'll have a nice "game manager" type night as the Jets pull out the dubayoo, 23-17.


Who do you think is winning each game? Email me your thoughts at rjochoa@insidethestar.com or Tweet @rjochoa.

 

Tell us what you think about "Week 2 NFL Game Picks" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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DL Christian Covington Could Be Rod Marinelli’s Next Great Find

Kevin Brady

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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign DL Christian Covington 1
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has earned the reputation for finding and developing lesser-known defensive linemen over the years, and turning them into productive players for his defense.

It seems like every year the Cowboys have at least one defensive tackle who entered the season with no-to-limited hype, and finished it as a hard-nosed, productive player in the middle of their defensive line rotation.

Christian Covington could very well be that guy in 2019.

The former Houston Texan has had an interesting NFL career thus far. Overall, his raw numbers are decent on paper, appearing in 50 games over four seasons and tallying up 7.5 sacks and 65 tackles. Not bad for a rotational defensive lineman, to be sure.

As a Texan, Covington was mostly asked to play out of position, however. In their 3-4 scheme Covington played as the defensive end, whereas he'll be a 3-technique lining up over the guard in the Cowboys system. This should suit Covington much better, allowing him to be more comfortable in his position and hopefully produce at a higher clip.

Christian Covington is expected to be heavily involved in a defensive tackle rotation which is becoming quite crowded due to the Cowboys' busy offseason. Not only did Dallas draft UCF tackle Trysten Hill in the second round of the draft, but they are also bringing back the likes of Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Antwaun Woods just to name a few.

Still, Covington should be able to compete for (and win) significant playing time by the middle of the season if all goes according to plan.

Covington is a solid interior pass rusher that can push the middle of the pocket and make quarterbacks uncomfortable. He has experience occupying blocks on the inside to free up elite edge rushers in Houston, which is exactly what he'll be doing for the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn in Dallas this season.

Don't be surprised if he does more than simply "occupying" blocks, though, and steals some sack production for himself this upcoming season.



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Everything You Need to Know About Cowboys Madden 20 Ratings

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dallas Cowboys Have Interest In An E-Sports Team 8

Madden 20 is scheduled to release in August and the moment has arrived for both fans and players to be excited or outraged about this year's ratings. Madden ratings are constantly updated once released, but it's always fun to overreact when the launch ratings are announced. Even the "Madden 99 Club" has become an exciting social media dynamic with players being announced one by one.

Today, we'll dive into everything you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys' Madden 20 ratings!

The Second Best Team

It may come as a surprise that the Dallas Cowboys own the second highest overall in this year's game. With 86 on both offense and defense, America's Team ultimately amounts to an overall rating of 88. Second only to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys' ratings in the upcoming EA game should have fans excited to play.

While it is surprising to see Dallas over the current NFC champions, the L.A. Rams, or the the New England Patriots, the rating makes sense.

The Cowboys are very talented (Brandt actually named them the second most talented team in the NFL) and are loaded in the trenches. Offensive linemen Tyron Smith (94 OVR), Zack Martin (96 OVR) and Travis Frederick (94 OVR) really boost the team's overall rating. Not to mention a talented defense, specially at LB and DE.

Everything You Need to Know About Cowboys Madden 20 Ratings

Top 5 Cowboys in Madden 20

Only five Dallas Cowboys got a 90+ rating in this year's edition of Madden.

RG Zack Martin - 96 Overall

I cannot disagree with Martin being the highest-graded player on the Cowboys. This guy might be the best OL on the team and he hasn't missed serious time throughout his career. He's been the best right guard since arriving to the NFL in 2014 and hasn't showed any signs of slowing down.

Martin is the second best offensive lineman in the game (Packers LT David Bakhtiari is 97) and the best guard.

C Travis Frederick - 94 Overall

The Cowboys' center will be back on the field after missing the 2018 season and EA holds him at the top of his game. Although there is uncertainty about his health in real life, it doesn't affect his numbers on Madden. Frederick definitely deserves to be tied with Eagles' Jason Kelce for the throne among centers.

LT Tyron Smith - 94 Overall

Smith's injuries have cost him the title for best LT in football, but when healthy, #77 still dominates on the field. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him for 16 games this season. After missing time in three consecutive seasons, Smith has something to prove this year.

RB Ezekiel Elliott - 94 Overall

Lucky for you and me, we don't have to worry about any potential holdouts in Madden (that'd be an interesting yet annoying feature). Ezekiel Elliott is the second best RB in the game (Gurley is #1), which seems fair to me. With a 94 overall rating, my only complaint would be Zeke's elusiveness being a mere 85.

CB Byron Jones - 91 Overall

Coming in to finish off the Cowboys' Top 5 is your second-team All-Pro CB Byron Jones! After a breakout year in 2018, it's nice to see Madden give him credit. We don't know if he'll stick around in Dallas for long, but when you play franchise mode, it'll be up to you.

Lookout Deshaun Watson, QB Sack Leader DeMarcus Lawrence is Coming!

DeMarcus Lawrence Got a What, Now?

You probably noticed a name missing in the Cowboys "90+ Club," didn't you?

Somehow, someway, EA Sports decided DeMarcus Lawrence was only worthy of an 89 overall rating. To which I say, and I'm sure Cowboys Nation echoes me: that's ridiculous!

I'll go ahead and list the pass rushers that are ranked above Lawrence:

  • Aaron Donald - 99 OVR (Fair, he's the best defensive player in the game)
  • Khalil Mack - 99 OVR (Fair)
  • Von Miller - 97 OVR (Fair)
  • J.J. Watt - 97 OVR (I can live with it, he did have an All-Pro season and 16 sacks)
  • Calais Campbell - 92 OVR
  • Jadeveon Clowney - 92 OVR
  • Myles Garrett - 91 OVR
  • Cameron Jordan - 91 OVR
  • Brandon Graham - 89 OVR (Tied with D-Law)

Man, I think the folks over at EA Sports are hugely underrating Lawrence. He might be the best EDGE rusher against the run and is among the best in the NFL rushing the passer. I get why he's not in the top 4, but he should be somewhere between Myles Garrett and Calais Campbell without a doubt.

Oh, by the way, DeMarcus Lawrence is asking Cowboys Nation to start a "Madden Strike."

DeMarcus Lawrence on Twitter

HOLD UP @EAMaddenNFL you not just going to disrespeck me like that with an 89 and get away with it....PUT. SOME. RESPECK. ON. https://t.co/ndDkGvo7gx. UNTIL THEN COWBOYS NATION IS ON MADDEN STRIKE! RT @dallascowboys Nation show em we ain't playin bih. https://t.co/okVXyooI3l

I love you as much as the next fan, Lawrence, but I'm getting the game. My bad. I'm sure it won't be long before they upgrade your stats.

A Few More Notes...

Dak Prescott got an 81 OVR rating: I won't complain about this one. It sounds low, but looking at the QBs listed above him, it makes sense. Mayfield, who has an 83, might be the one guy I'd like to see below Dak. He has a lot of potential, but we've seen more from Prescott so far.

Jason Witten's 83 rating seems high: #82 is the reason I fell in love with football, but I'll question this rating. Witten is 37-years old and is coming back from retirement. He was slow when he stepped back, who knows how he'll do now. But I love the idea of playing with him once more.

Michael Gallup is being slept on: I understand Gallup's 78 OVR rating. I really do. He didn't play that much on the first half of the season but improved on a weekly basis. I believe that his rating will change quickly with Gallup poised for a breakout year.

Antwaun Woods' rating is way too low: Woods should have a higher rating than 73. Although he is a DT and his stats don't jump out of the page, he proved to be a great one-tech for the Cowboys and made impact plays constantly when on the field. But hey, at least he's not complaining.

Antwaun Woods Sr. on Twitter

Honestly I'm just happy to be on Madden. A video game I've been playing my whole life. @EAMaddenNFL #Thankful

Cowboys LB are strong: Leighton Vander Esch (86 OVR), Jaylon Smith (85 OVR) and Sean Lee (84 OVR) all got a strong, well-deserved rating. These guys will be fun to watch on the field on Sundays and on your gaming console on a daily basis.

Amari Cooper's rating is spot on: Many have complained about Cooper having a 89 OVR, but I believe they nailed it. As much as we love Amari, he isn't in the top tier of NFL wide receivers. Let Hopkins, Beckham, Brown, Jones be on the 90s. 89 feels just right for Amari.

At the end of the day, these ratings are all subject to change. And with so many ups and downs in an NFL season, you better believe they will change. In the meantime, we can only wait. The game we annually wait so much for is just around the corner!

Tell me what you think about "Everything You Need to Know About Cowboys Madden 20 Ratings" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Cowboys Nation Mailbag: Tank’s Madden Rating, Rookies on the Roster?

John Williams

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Redskins

Probably one of my favorite things about this time of the year is attempting to figure out which rookies from the most recent draft class will have the opportunity to make a statement during their first season in the NFL. As an NFL franchise, you hope that several, if not all of your draft picks are able to make your opening week 53-man roster and make significant impacts during the regular season.

With the way the Dallas Cowboys have drafted in the last four or five years, we've grown accustomed to first-year players showing out in their rookie seasons. This time of year creates all kinds of speculation toward that end.

The downside to this time of year is that there isn't a ton to talk about. Most of what is going on is speculation into how the team will look when they take the field week one.

It's that time of the NFL year when there's not a whole lot going on and EA Sports drops their Madden ratings out for the world to peruse and criticize. Like every year, there are always ratings that make you go, "huh?" and this year is no different.

The fact that DeMarcus Lawrences is rated only an 89 on Madden 20 is just further evidence to how underappreciated he is around the NFL and those who follow the NFL. Even in the Dallas Cowboys fanbase, Lawrence isn't considered to be the same level of player that Khalil Mack or Von Miller is, but if you look at the totality of the numbers, you find that Tank's been every bit as productive and disruptive as those guys have been.

Cowboys Nation Mailbag: Tank's Madden Rating, Rookie Impact Players

As you can see from the chart above, in fewer snaps, DeMarcus Lawrence had a greater playmaking EPA over the course of the 2018 season than Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Aaron Donald had a higher playmaking EPA and should be rated higher than Lawrence, but I have a really hard time with Lawrence being rated anything less than a 95.

Though he may not have had as many sacks as Mack or either of the Watt brothers, Lawrence finished tied for fourth among edge rushers in Pro Football Focus' "stops" metric, which is defined as a play that results in a loss for the defense. Could be a tackle for a loss, a tackle that didn't achieve the expected yards for the down and distance, a sack, a batted pass, an interception, a tackle that forced a fourth down.

Lawrence is one of those players that does everything really, really well. He's one of the most well-rounded players on the defensive side of the football as he doesn't lack in his ability to play the run or rush the passer.

His ability to disrupt the run and pass game at an equally elite level goes beyond what you see in a boxscore. Oh, and his boxscore is really really good too. Though many Cowboys' fans were unsure if Lawrence was worth the $21 million per year and $60 million guaranteed that he received this offseason, I've never wavered in my belief that you should feel comfortable paying DeMarcus Lawrence like an elite edge player, because he's an elite edge player.


Mike followed up this question by also including Tony Pollard, so I won't touch on that one much except to say that I'm really excited to see what Pollard could do with 5-10 touches per game behind this offensive line. He's such an explosive player with the ball in his hands that you want to work to get the ball in his hands.

So, besides Trysten Hill, Connor McGovern, and Tony Pollard, which rookies do I see making the team in 2019? Well in my most recent 53-man roster projection, I included Mike Jackson, the cornerback out of Miami who the Dallas Cowboys selected in the fifth round as well as Donovan Wilson, the Texas A&M safety, their sixth-round draft pick.

I think both of those players will have an excellent shot to make the roster out of training camp and Wilson, in particular, could find himself with a significant role with the defense if he's able to translate his collegiate playmaking ability to the NFL. He was an excellent tackler and ball-hawking safety and if there's one thing that was evident in 2018, the team needs better tackling from its other safety not named Xavier Woods.

It's going to be very difficult for any of the rookie defensive linemen or wide receivers to make the roster out of training camp because there is already tremendous depth there.

Training camp generally leads to the hype machines getting out of control for undrafted free agent wide receivers and this year will be no different with playmakers Jalen Guyton and Jon'vea Johnson ready to shine. The difficulty is that they'll have to be significantly better than veterans Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown to force the team to move on from players they covet and trust.

It's possible, it's just not very likely.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Training camp is now less than two weeks away and as it draws closer, the excitement of Cowboys Nation will begin to boil over. This is a squad that has the talent and depth to be a contender. We're finally getting closer to being able to see that talent on the field instead of just talking about it.

If you have a question you'd like to see featured in our weekly mailbag, leave it in the comments, reply to the Inside The Star Facebook page, or send it to John via Twitter



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