I recently went out to run some errands. I dropped off some clothes at the cleaners, picked up a couple of groceries, got my car washed, the standard stuff.
While out and about I passed by a local jewelry store. Through the window I saw the perfect piece that my girlfriend has talked about wanting for some time.
I tipped my cap to the necklace and said, "See you in February."
I was talking about Valentine's Day, but there's no question that when Tony Romo uttered the same thing to Tom Brady last Sunday (see below) he was talking about Super Bowl 50.
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February 7th, 2016 is still about four months away, but Tony's got some serious confidence and is not afraid to let the reigning Super Bowl MVP know it.
Like the crownie mastermind I too have some serious confidence. Week 6 kicks off tonight and I'm here to tell you exactly how it's going to unfold.
Here are my official picks for Week 6, February Style.
Thursday Night Football: Atlanta Falcons (5-0) At New Orleans Saints (1-4)
There are very few things like primetime football at the Superdome in New Orleans. We're in store for a fresh serving of it tonight as the Saints look to double their 2015 win total. Coming off of a thrashing against Philly, it's hard to believe in this Saints team. With murmurings that Sean Payton might be coaching somewhere else next year the Saints appear to be close to coming undone. A date with the undfeated Falcons surely will not help their cause.
It's pretty amazing that those unbeaten Falcons needed to go to overtime in order to defeat the Washington Redskins. Nevertheless a win is a win, and Devonta Freeman is winning 2015. The Falcons are red hot right now and they seem like an unstoppable offensive force. Next on deck? A defense that made Sam Bradford look good. Watch out, here comes Atlanta.
Prediction: FALCONS - 33, Saints - 24
Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) At Buffalo Bills (3-2)
It was a year ago this week that the Dallas Cowboys stormed into Seattle and secured a statement win against the Seahawks. Well it was a week ago that the Bengals wrapped up their own win over the two-time defending NFC Champs. Andy Dalton is en fuego, and the Bengals roster is bananas awesome all over the place. There's no chance that the Tyrod Taylor-less Bills can hang with them.
That's right, it is very doubtful that Tyrod Taylor will play for the Bills this Sunday. That's ok they have Matt Cassel! ...whoops. EJ Manuel is the next man up which means that life is going to be rough in Buffalo for a while. Might as well call it Roughalo, am I right?!
Cheesy jokes aside, even though the Bills are looking to have Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins, and perhaps LeSean McCoy, back... they are no match for the Bengals right now.
Prediction: BENGALS - 37, Bills - 13
Chicago Bears (2-3) At Detroit Lions (0-5)
Don't look now, but Jay Cutler is actually playing the quarterback position competently. The disinterested Cutler managed to pull out a victory against the Kansas City Chiefs (which you'd have seen coming if you read my Week 5 NFL Game Picks) with none of his usual playmakers. Alshon could be back this week which means that Mr. Cutler will be happy. So will the residents of Chi-City.
If you insert Dan Orlovsky into a game that should be an automatic forfeit. The Lions are so incredibly bad right now, Simba and Mufasa would be ashamed! It's crazy that Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, and Ameer Abdullah all occupy an offense that simply cannot put it together. It's hard to imagine that they'll be able to against the division rival Bears. And by hard I mean totally impossible.
Prediction: BEARS - 26, Lions - 10
Denver Broncos (5-0) At Cleveland Browns (2-3)
The Broncos 2015 season may be five weeks old, but Peyton Manning has yet to show up for it. It is so incredibly foreign to see Manning as the weak link on his team. His passes are so wobbly and take so long to get to his intended receivers that if he throws one right now it might not get there by Sunday. The new-look Orange Crush will be without the services of DeMarcus Ware, so look for rookie Shane Ray to step up.
Cleveland fans know that there are maybe one or two more victories in store for the Browns this season because, well they're the Browns. They can celebrate right now because the Browns will earn one of those this week! That's right! I called for the Raiders to take out Denver last week, and they almost did, but I was just a week early. The Browns offense is quietly sort of good, and this is just the type of trap game that Denver won't see coming. Give me the Factory of Sadness!
Prediction: Broncos - 16, BROWNS - 23
Miami Dolphins (1-3) At Tennessee Titans (1-3)
The Dolphins will make their first appearance after the firing of Joe Philbin. That means that former Cowboy Dan Campbell, just 39 years old, will make his debut under the head coach's headset. I actually think that the former tight end has rallied his troops a bit. He brings a sense of tenacity that could resonate well with the team, especially a guy like Ndamukong Suh.
It was pretty shocking how badly the Titans played last week given that they had a bye week to prepare for the Bills. Last year's Heisman Winner, Marcus Mariota, had perhaps his worst game of his young NFL career. I think brighter days are ahead for the second overall pick, but I think he's going to run into a Dolphin team high on emotional energy.
Prediction: DOLPHINS - 27, Titans - 17
Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) At Minnesota Vikings (2-2)
Hank Stram will be smiling somewhere as this Super Bowl IV rematch gets going, with players matriculating down the field all day long.
The poor Chiefs have not only had to take on the Broncos, Packers, and Bengals back-to-back-to-back, but now they are without the services of star running back Jamaal Charles for the rest of the year. Woof. Welcome to Check Down City... population: Alex Smith. Brandon Weeden will love the KC offense in this game.
The Vikings are really hard to figure out this year. A lot of people saw them as a potential wildcard team, but they haven't totally come out and dominated someone yet. I could see it happening here. Mike Zimmer has taken the bye week to figure out exactly how many points he wants to beat the Chiefs by. He told me and now I'm telling you.
Prediction: Chiefs - 15, VIKINGS - 31
Washington Redskins (2-3) At New York Jets (3-1)
It's strange enough that the Redskins are actually relevant, it would have been straight up twilight zone crazy if they had been the first team to beat the Atlanta Falcons. Washington is playing solid football right now, but you have to imagine that they're about to implode... they are the Redskins after all.
Sheldon Richardson will put on the gang green for the first time this year and said that he was "coming to eat," so I hope Kirk Cousins dresses with salt and pepper before the game. This Jets defensive line is going to massacre little Kirky. Fitzmagic is going to get cooking on the other side against a very depleted Washington secondary. Back to your corner you go, Redskins.
Prediction: Redskins - 9, JETS - 23
Arizona Cardinals (4-1) At Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
The Cardinals crushed the Lions, and the spirit of Matthew Stafford, last week. Absolutely crushed. The little birdies are on FIYAH this season. Carson Palmer AND Larry Fitzgerald have found the fountain of youth. Patrick Peterson has the defense getting wild. And Dwight Freeney just joined the party! Bruce Arians heads back to Pittsburgh with the Bruce-y Bunch and he's going to have a whole heck of a lot of fun.
I would bet my Chip Kelly Smoothie Recipe Book that you'll hear at nauseam how these are two former number one overall picks squaring off in Carson Palmer and Michael, Mike apparently, Vick.
Le'Veon Bell is the real story of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but is he enough to carry them? Sure it worked against the Chargers, but the Cardinals are a real NFL team. Antonio Brown's contributions have slowed thanks to Vick (who looks really awkward in #2 for what it's worth) and I have serious doubts that they can keep tempo with Arizona. Too da loo, Pittsburgh.
Prediction: CARDINALS - 43, Steelers - 18
Houston Texans (1-4) At Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
Do you think Ryan Mallett cares about my pick? I know he doesn't care about the Texans or anything important, but I thought maybe he'd care about me. I've always felt special.
Houston we have a major problem. The back-and-forth from Hoyer to Mallett to Hoyer has been exhausting in just five weeks. The Bill O'Brien we saw on Hard Knocks is surely losing his mind over just how terrible the Texans are. Serious question here. Which total will be higher... Texans points or JJ Watt sacks?
I can't believe that I actually trusted the Jaguars. I believed in them and they went and lost to the Buccaneers! THE BUCCANEERS. For shame on you, Jacksonville. I do think that they'll right the ship this week, they have some very talented young playmakers. Go Jags.
Prediction: Texans - 12, JAGUARS - 32
Carolina Panthers (4-0) At Seattle Seahawks (2-3)
Cam Newton is playing at an MVP level this season, that is a fact. He's obviously feeling good as he recently doubted the loudness of the Seattle Seahawk fans, and he should be feeling good. He's carrying a team in which the star receiver is Ted Ginn Jr. Yes, that Ted Ginn Jr.
The Panthers undoubtedly want to avenge their division round loss from a year ago and I think that they will. I believe in SuperCam and I believe that his Superman cape will be flying a whole lot higher than the famous 12th man flag this Sunday.
Do you guys think that the Seahawks have ever seen Jimmy Graham play? Do you think they know that he's really tall and good at catching touchdowns? Because I don't. For whatever the Seahawks are more likely to throw a pass in my direction than Jimmy's so far this season. If they have any hopes if finding their former swagger they need to use all of their weapons - Graham included.
Prediction: PANTHERS - 32, Seahawks - 28
San Diego Chargers (2-3) At Green Bay Packers (5-0)
Winning a close game can propel a team on a run in the NFL. Unfortunately the opposite effect can happen and I fear that's what's going to happen to the San Diego Super Chargers. It's going to be tough to overcome that last-second loss on Monday Night Football, and squaring off against the Packers isn't exactly the right medicine for that flu.
I anticipated the Packers struggling with the Rams last week, and they did; however, they prevailed. Aaron Rodgers' long streak of no interceptions at home finally came to a close, and you know what... good for him. The dude can finally let go of that and not carry that around with him. I expect Aaron to be nice and loose and drop his finest performance of the season so far.
Prediction: Chargers - 20, PACKERS - 45
Baltimore Ravens (1-4) At San Francisco 49ers (1-4)
It's pretty amazing that the last time these two teams met was Super Bowl XLVII (just three years ago, mind you) and both Anquan Boldin AND Torrey Smith were wearing Ravens purple. Baltimore hasn't really found suitable replacements for them and has struggled offensively this season as a result. Their defense, without the services of Terrell Suggs, has struggled similarly as last week was the ultimate low point... a loss to the Browns.
The 49ers mess makes the Ravens mess look desirable. Colin Kaepernick has seemingly forgotten how to play quarterback, or even throw a ball forward. Kaep did ball out against the Giants last week, but his 2015 doesn't inspire too much confidence in him. I expect this to be a big Carlos Hyde game for the Niners, but too short of an effort as they are just the stinkier pile of garbage between these two teams.
Prediction: RAVENS - 20, 49ers - 19
Sunday Night Football: New England Patriots (4-0) At Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
The tour of dominance continued for the Patriots last week when they easily vanquished the Brandon Ween-led Dallas Cowboys. Even though they'll never admit it, I imagine that this game has been circled on the calendar for them since the schedule released. This is about revenge. They're taking out the Deflategate Whistleblowers on Sunday Night Football. Prepare for total no mercy Belichick and Brady. I'm talking a 50-burger here.
The Colts celebrating beating the Texans is like me celebrating having tied my shoes this morning. It's that easy.
Indianapolis looks like they'll finally have Andrew Greybeard, I mean Andrew Luck, back under center. Cool. The Colts could have 500 Andrew Lucks on Sunday Night... it would be no use. They are going to get blasted in this game. Madden style blasted. Or you know, the way that the Texans get beat every week.
Prediction: PATRIOTS - 56, Colts - 23
Monday Night Football: New York Giants (3-2) At Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
This is going to be a very interesting game for Dallas Cowboys fans to watch. Considering that the Cowboys get the Giants in New York next week, these results are very important.
The Giants have won three in a row and are riding a serious wave of positive momentum. Tom Coughlin has a knack for getting his teams to start cooking with gas at the right times. With the way that Eli is playing right now and with an outside threat like Odell Beckham Jr., they are going to be hard for Philly to stop.
It was very souring for Cowboys fans to see how easily the Eagles beat the Saints last week. That's what every team is supposed to do to the Saints this year given how bad they are. I think that game was just that, more about the detriments of New Orleans than the strides of Philadelphia. I don't see the Eagles being able to handle the Giants, but their defense has been somewhat impressive this year.
Division rival games, especially in the NFC East, are always hard to predict. I'm going with my gut here. The Giants know that if they can win the next two they'll be sitting pretty in the middle of the season. Give me the G-Men.
Prediction: GIANTS - 23, Eagles - 20
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next
Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.
The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.
However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.
As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.
Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.
The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.
The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.
The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.
Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.
If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.
Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.
Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.
Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.
I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.
In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.
Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.
Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.
In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.
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This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.
If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.
If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.
What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?
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