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.
The Cowboys Blueprint for Success has been Set
The Cowboys victory against the Jaguars was a reminder to everyone just how good Dak Prescott & Co. can be. They ran and threw all over the Jaguars defense like they were high school level. It was a one-sided, lambs to the slaughter type of game.
At the end of the game, it left all of us wondering, "where has this team been all year?"
Throughout the season, the Cowboys showed both dominance and incompetence on the offensive side of the football. One game the team moves the ball up and down the field with ease, the next game the offense looks inept. Last Sunday’s game versus Jacksonville shows that Dallas can be successful the rest of the season, if they continue to play as such.
Run the ball
This team was built to run the football. Look at the offensive line, their type of tight ends, their quarterback, and of course Ezekiel Elliott.
The line is full of first round talent, the tight ends are block-first types (sans Rico Gathers), Dak Prescott gives them another dimension with the mobile ability in and out of the pocket, and Elliott is one of if not the best running back in the league.
The concept of running the football should not be lost on this team.
If they let Elliott run 20 or more times per game, allow Prescott to run outside of the pocket and not just be a stand-still passer, and mix in some of Rod Smith and Tavon Austin (when healthy) to give their main runner a break, they can run on anyone.
Let Dak Move Around
What makes Dak Prescott so special to this team isn’t just his leadership, but also his ability to extend plays. He stays in the pocket if he has to but he’s so skilled outside with his legs. Zone read, play action, tuck and run, throw on the run, etc., any excuse to get Dak Prescott on the move is a plus. Defenses respect his ability to move so much that the Cowboys receivers get open more as a result.
The worst thing a coaching staff can do to a mobile quarterback is to keep him standing still when he can do so much more with his feet. Don’t buy a Corvette and keep it locked up in the garage. The best way for Dak Prescott to stay consistent and succeed as a passer is to let Dak be Dak.
The Cowboys have found a serious advantage that they’ve lacked in years past. Led by DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys have 18 sacks through the first six games of the season.
Throw in the contributions of players like Taco Charlton, Tyrone Crawford, and Randy Gregory, among others, and you’ve got the deepest pass rush the Cowboys have had in years.
The team is 7th in the league in sacks and there seems to be no sign of stopping and no shortage of players who can get to the quarterback. These numbers look like they’ll only go up from here and with the amount of players the Cowboys have to do so, Jacksonville looks like it was only a taste of what’s to come.
Creative Play Calling
A little more than a week ago Jerry Jones stated that the Cowboys offense looked similar to the L.A. Rams - a hilarious notion by most accounts, right?
The Cowboys offensive scheme had been mocked all season for being both predictable and out of date. I’m not sure how many times you can run a three tight end set and expect success when it hadn't happened yet.
The team would run then throw on first and second downs, and depending on yardage, would set up a predictable third down attempt.
Against Jacksonville, we saw more read option than we’ve seen all year. Dak Prescott was vintage. His ability to move the ball with his legs made the secondary shaky against the Cowboys receivers - especially Cole Beasley - and that opened up the playbook.
Ezekiel Elliott couldn’t be stopped and just about every receiver got in on the action. Even rookie receiver Michael Gallup got in and showed some of what Cowboy fans had been waiting for.
Hopefully, that game showed just how dangerous the Cowboys can be when they are unpredictable and let their quarterback be himself. If they game planned for today the same as they did against the Jaguars, the rest of the season will be much more winnable.
Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?
El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.
Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?
De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.
Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.
Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.
Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.
Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.
A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.
Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.
Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.
Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y ganando a la otra.
Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.
Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.
Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.
I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.
As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.
I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.
Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.
Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.
I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.
Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.
Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.
Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?
Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?
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