Welcome to Week 3 of the NFL season!
This is a weird place.
Tony Romo is hurt, the Redskins are watchable, and the Jaguars won a game! The only thing about this week that feels like the NFL we know and love is that the Browns continue to make terrible decisions.
If you knew one thing about RJ Ochoa you would know that Back To The Future is his favorite movie ever. Lucky for me I know that guy pretty well (he's pretty charming from what I hear) so I know what he's thinking.
Today I, like Doc and Marty, have returned from the future. I traveled out to next Tuesday morning and saw who won all of the Week 3 NFL games (Also saw that I wear the same shirt every day between now and then. I need to get it together.). Even though I traveled through time, not distance, I still managed to gain more yards than DeMarco Murray and the Eagles running backs.
Hop in my DeLorean and allow me to tell you who is winning each and every game from Week 3. No sports almanacs allowed, Biff.
Thursday Night Football: Washington Redskins (1-1) At New York Giants (0-2)
The future is a weird place. The Redskins are... above .500? That's right!
The Washington Redskins head into East Rutherford Thursday night to face off against a G-Men squad that can't get out of their own way. Crushing losses to America's Team (who are still America's Team in the future, no worries) and the new-look Atlanta Falcons have this bunch feeling blue (no pun intended).
Kirk Cousins seems to be playing well enough, or at least not like RGIII, for Washington to find ways to win. Bill Callahan has had an incredible impact on their team and it shows in just two games. Rookie running back sensation Matt Jones ran ALL OVER the defensive unit of the St. Louis Rams (like everyone else has in the history of the world) last week. Jeff Fisher went as far as to say that this Washington team is "this year's Cowboys" in terms of how much they ran the ball.
These 'Skins are going to emulate the 2014 Cowboys and run, run, run. They're going to do what they can to control the pace of the game and time of possession. A short week after the way that the Giants lost to the Falcons was welcomed in terms of not having to deal with it for too long, but I just don't think the Giants are prepared enough for this. I'll take the sneaky Redskins on TNF.
Prediction: Redskins - 23, Giants - 16
Atlanta Falcons (2-0) At Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
Fun little tidbit about this game... both teams are not only 2-0, but were fortunate enough to get both of their victories against the same two teams: the Giants and Eagles.
Unfortunately you're going to have to leave your Tony Romo and Dez Bryant jerseys in your closet for this one. #9 and #88 will be on the sidelines in sweats as Brandon Weeden squares off against Matt Ryan in a battle of undefeated teams.
The Falcons have been a nice surprise this season. Rookie Head Coach Dan Quinn (aka Captain Falcon aka Falcon Punch! aka if you got that reference then we are best friends) has this team playing some solid football. Julio Jones looks unstoppable and Matty Ice seems to be regaining the form that has put him in the discussion of elite quarterbacks in this league.
The hopes and dreams of Cowboys fans laid on the ground in Philadelphia last week when Tony Romo went down with a fractured clavicle. Fortunately this unit plays like a total team all the time and found a way to take down the division rival Eagles. Brandon Weeden will be in control Sunday, and last time that happened things did not go so well for #3.
Atlanta is not without injury as their rookie running back Tevin Coleman fractured his rib and is going to miss some time. I'm not going to lie or sugar coat it - Julio Jones is a monster. The Cowboys are going to need to devote some serious attention his way, but if they can eliminate him then there's not much else from Atlanta that terrifies me. Look for the Cowboys to lean heavily on the run and rely on guys like Lance Dunbar and Cole Beasley for those short dink-and-dunk type plays.
The Cowboy defense will come to play and will do their best to carry the team without Romo. Get ready for some shocked media members on Monday morning!
Prediction: Falcons - 6, Cowboys - 20
Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) At Baltimore Ravens (0-2)
Ahhh I love the smell of division rival clashes in the morning (that and bacon - bacon over everything).
The Baltimore Ravens are in trouble. They're 0-2 after a loss to the Raiders (which should actually count for more than one loss in my opinion...) with division clashes against the Bengals and Steelers coming up. If a guy named Crockett Gilmore is your most potent offensive weapon than you need help. Justin Forsett had a solid 2014, and while he gained more than 2 yards like a certain notable 2014 running back... he really needs to get it going for the sake of the Ravens.
Andy Dalton did me a personal favor and threw a touchdown to my fantasy diamond AJ Green, so I am appreciative. The Bengals always look stout this time of year so no one is really shocked. Their roster is really impressive from top to bottom and you would think that they'd be one of the premiere AFC teams. They'll fall off in early January, but for now they're for real. I'll take the Bengals.
Prediction: Bengals - 30, Ravens - 17
Oakland Raiders (1-1) At Cleveland Browns (1-1)
The black and silver of the Oakland Raiders make up one of the most beautiful uniforms in the NFL. It is a shame that lining up across from them will be the atrocity that the Cleveland Browns put together this year.
Oakland looked, dare I say, good against the Baltimore Ravens. I really like Derek Carr and think he has a future in this league (imagine the AFC West in 5 years... no Peyton, no Rivers, it's Carr's world and we're all living in it). Amari Cooper is the perfect weapon to compliment the young quarterback and these guys are actually semi-fun to watch!
The legend of Johnny Football will have to wait at least one more week to grow even larger. For reasons that I cannot explain the Browns think that Josh McCown is a more serviceable starter this week. Poor Johnny, poor Travis Benjamin, poor everybody (especially our eyes against those uniforms).
Look for the Browns to get waxed and Cleveland to turn to Johnny as their hero for Week 4.
Prediction: Raiders - 27, Browns - 9
Indianapolis Colts (0-2) At Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Who would have thought that the Titans would have more wins entering this contest than the division rival Colts? Maybe those 28 Titans fans - MAYBE.
The Colts looked like a mess on Monday Night Football against the Jets in a Super Bowl III re-match. New York got after Luck and flustered him early and often... leaving all of us to wonder where this elite Colts offense is.
Marcus Mariota came back down to earth a little when the Cleveland Browns had their way with him last Sunday, and he suffered the first loss of his NFL career. One of the brighter spots for the Titans last week was when #8 found fellow rookie Dorial Green-Beckham for a touchdown. Look for that trend to continue as 2015 progresses.
It's hard not to believe that the Colts will finally get something together offensively, and that'll be a little much for the Titans defense to handle. I don't think Luck is going to look super impressive, but he's not about to let his team fall to 0-3.
Prediction: Colts - 16, Titans - 10
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) At St. Louis Rams (1-1)
I legitimately thought that San Francisco was going to ride a wave of positive momentum into Pittsburgh last week. Obviously I upset the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and DeAngelo Williams - my bad, guys. The Steelers took care of business easily last week, and unlike the Colts their offense seems to be as real as advertised.
If anyone came crashing down to earth last week it was Jeff Fisher's St. Louis Rams. After a huge win over the division rival Seahawks his team went up to DC and got embarrassed by the Redskins. That elite defensive line they're supposed to have? Yea, didn't make a difference. And they won't again this week either.
Pittsburgh is going to come out and flex their Le'Veon Bell shaped muscle during #26's first 2015 action in St. Louis. Get him in your fantasy lineups now!
Prediction: Steelers - 32, Rams - 14
San Diego Chargers (1-1) At Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Last time that the San Diego Chargers were in Minnesota (granted it was the Metrodome) there were a lot of fireworks. Antonio Cromartie tied the record for the longest play in NFL History when he returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown. Oh and Adrian Peterson ran for more yards (296... with 3 TDs to boot) in a game than anyone in the history of ever. No big deal.
The Chargers ran into some trouble against the Bengals last week, but I have a lot of faith in them. Philip Rivers is a borderline elite quarterback who is going to find ways to make plays. Keenan Allen regressed last week, but he is going to return to Week 1 form against these Vikes... oh and Melvin Gordon is going to have an impressive day, too.
Minnesota picked up their first dubayoo of the season last week against the Lions. While that's a little impressive, it's hard to forget what we saw from this team against the 49ers. Give me San Diego.
Prediction: Chargers - 24, Vikings - 13
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) At New England Patriots (2-0)
Seriously? You really need me to pick this for you?
I know, I know... the Jaguars beat the Dolphins. That'd adorable. To be perfectly honest they were actually a little impressive. They are just out of their league on this one.
New England is on a mission to beat opponents by thousands of points this season. Even if they weren't they would still beat the Jaguars by 1,000 points. They stormed into Buffalo, despite Rex Ryan's constant chirping, and snatched the heart out of Bills fans. They are going to massacre the Jags.
Prediction: Jaguars - 6, Patriots - 38
New Orleans Saints (0-2) At Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The Superdome is about to be Supersad. These Saints look terrible - and that's with Drew Brees. #9 may or may not suit up on Sunday when the Saints hit the field in Carolina. Sean Payton and Co. were looked at like the kid who brings vegetables for lunch when they traded away Jimmy Graham, and they're really going to miss him this week.
The Panthers have done what you're supposed to do - they've won against bad teams. With wins against Jacksonville and Houston under their belt, the Panthers get another serving of yuck with this Saints team marching into town. Superman returns on Sunday (Cam, not the terrible movie).
Prediction: Saints - 13, Panthers - 23
Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) At New York Jets (2-0)
There is a lot of green going on in this game.
There has been very little flying done by the Eagles this season as all of Chip Kelly's new toys have come with instructions that he just refuses to read. DeMarco Murray has a hamstring issue, and probably some bruised pride, so he might not suit up on Sunday. Those two yards will have to be run by someone else.
J-E-T-S YES YES YES! Holy guacamole (another green thing) did the Jets look good on Monday Night Football! This defensive unit is no joke, and the Amish Rifle looks capable of managing the game for the offense. I really like this team and think they're going to be in the discussion for a wildcard spot late in the season.
"Are we clear for takeoff? Did you get rid of those Eagles in the sky? Let's go." The Jets are taking off on Sunday.
Prediction: Eagles - 16, Jets - 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) At Houston Texans (0-2)
Famous Jameis got his first win of his young career over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Wow. The Bucs shocked the world last week when they went into the Superdome and stunned the Saints, and I think they can do it again. The real Mike Evans has to stand up at some point, and he's going to make a significant impact for this team.
Houston we have 10 million problems. This team is a mess... all over. Sure Ryan Mallett looked a little better than Brian Hoyer, but that's like saying that Sam Bradford is a little better than Tim Tebow. It's all terrible. Houston has issues everywhere and until Arian Foster returns they don't have much of a shot against anyone. I like the Bucs in this one.
Prediction: Buccaneers - 17, Texans - 10
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) At Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Train has a really great album called something like "Save Me, San Francisco." I hope that the 49ers have been listening to it because they really need someone to save them. Sure they got off to a nice start against Minnesota, but they got waxed against a real opponent... and Arizona is for real.
The Cardinals took care of the Chicago Bears quite easily thanks to Carson Palmer. This is the best version of Palmer that we have seen in quite some time, and I haven't seen any indication that things are going to slow down for him. Bruce Arians has this team going and they are going to roll over San Francisco. Book it.
Prediction: 49ers - 13, Cardinals - 30
Buffalo Bills (1-1) At Miami Dolphins (1-1)
We haven't heard that much from Rex Ryan this week, right? I wonder why... oh maybe it's because last week when he barked Bill Belichick put him in his place. Ryan seems to have learned his lesson and got back down to business this week. Look for the Bills Mafia to come out very strong after Rex was humiliated. They're good for 7-10 sacks this week, I'm feeling it.
Losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars should be automatic grounds for removal from the NFL. Seriously dude, the Jaguars?! The Dolphins had a lot of hype coming into 2015 and so far they have massively disappointed. I have a very hard time believing that a team who has to "go back to the drawing board" is going to be ready for what Rex is cooking.
Prediction: Bills - 27, Dolphins - 14
Chicago Bears (0-2) At Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
The battle of the winless.
It's hard not to feel really sorry for the Bears. They're 0-2, they've lost Jay Cutler, and now they have to go up to Seattle (for the Seahawks' home debut) and play an 0-2 team. They're in for a rough day. Good luck to Jimmy Clausen, you're gonna need it.
Seattle is angry. Very angry. They're 0-2 and out to show that they are way better than that. Kam Chancellor returned to them this week and you have to imagine that his influence is going to be felt... specifically by the Chicago ball carriers. Seattle is out to send a message on Sunday, and I wouldn't dare get in their way.
Prediction: Bears - 9, Seahawks - 31
Sunday Night Football: Denver Broncos (2-0) At Detroit Lions (0-2)
Great teams win ugly games. Two weeks into the season we've seen it a few times already. Cowboy fans will never forget Tony Romo snatching victory from the jaws of defeat during Week 1, and the Broncos snatched their own victory last week on Thursday Night Football. The Broncos are coming into this game feeling good and well-rested after a 10 day break. Peyton is going to silence some critics with this performance.
As excited as I am for a Sunday Night game in Detroit, I'm equally less excited to have to watch the Lions play football. They haven't looked good at all this season, and it's hard to believe that things are going to get better against a defense like Denver's. Matthew Stafford needs to just close his eyes and throw to Megatron every play and maybe the Lions won't be totally humiliated.
Prediction: Broncos - 23, Lions - 10
Monday Night Football: Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) At Green Bay Packers (2-0)
Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field! Hot tamale I am excited!
Kansas City is anxiously waiting for another chance to hit the gridiron after the last game they played when they narrowly lost, in heartbreaking fashion, to the division rival Broncos. They're going to be out to make a statement against one of the NFL's elite teams, and Jamaal Charles is going to be out to avenge his late-game fumble from Week 2. I just don't think it'll be enough.
I don't necessarily subscribe to the theory that Aaron Rodgers can turn anyone into an All-Pro wide receiver, but he can beat teams by himself. The Packers are feeling good after venting some of 2014's frustration out on the Seahawks last week, and I just think that they're on a streak that can't be stopped by a team like the Chiefs. Give me the cheeseheads, pepper jack preferably.
Prediction: Chiefs - 13, Packers - 30
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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