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: 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.
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