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
Maliek Collins on the Verge of a Breakout Season
Maliek Collins has never lacked any ability on the field just the ability to stay on it. Foot and knee injuries have always seemed to get in the way when he's been on the brink of reaching his potential.
2019 is a contract year for Collins which means it's the most critical season of his young career. He hasn't wasted any time, though, showing what he's capable of when he doesn't have any physical limitations.
Maliek Collins beats Connor William's with a swim move in 2v2s https://t.co/prL9GsG1rY
In the first video above, Collins gets a great burst off the line of scrimmage while he simultaneously gets his hands on Connor Williams first. He controls and pushes him right into Dak Prescott's face, forcing a throw out of bounds. On the next video, he again explodes off the ball and uses a great swim move to beat Williams again in 2 on 2 drills.
His dominance hasn't been limited to training camp practice, however, as evident in his performance this past Saturday in albeit a short amount of action.
These next two plays stand out for me specifically. In the first, he uses a very physical spin move that knocks the left guard off balance and puts him right in the quarterback's face. In a league that focuses on quarterbacks getting the ball out quickly, the sooner you can provide pressure from the interior the harder it is for a quarterback to stay in the pocket and throw effectively. In the next play, he utilizes a swim move after a quick jump off the line and is right in the face of the runner as he and Jaylon Smith combine for a TFL (tackle for loss).
Beautiful TFL for Maliek Collins. Swims inside the LG on the zone concept to get penetration. Quickly flattens, latches onto Henderson's jersey and drags him to the ground. Outstanding grip strength #Cowboys. https://t.co/6ZnpKSVsRv
Collins performing at a high level in 2019 doesn't just benefit him but also rookie Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. While he's still acquiring the tools needed for the pro level under the guidance of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli he can watch and learn from Collins as he'll be right behind him as the team's backup 3-technique defensive tackle. Hill is probably still a year away from being a big contributor with Collins looking so refreshed and healthy so this is a great time to gain all the knowledge he can from a veteran. If that learning process comes along quickly, the Cowboys will have a very solid one-two punch alongside Antwaun Woods, the starter at the 1-technique.
Health, at least so far, seems to be on the side of Maliek Collins heading into the 2019 season, which is all he's ever lacked. Motivated by the opportunity to maximize his dollars for 2020, and a rookie being drafted at the same position, I look for Collins to not only have a breakout year but one that could garner a pro bowl nod, or at least be heavy in the conversation, which would mean great things for the Cowboys defensive front.
Cowboys Nation Mailbag: What about Taco Charlton and Ezekiel Elliott?
The 2019 regular season is now less than three weeks away and now is the time when we start getting down to the nitty-gritty. The "dress rehearsal" game is coming this Saturday as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Houston Texans and a lot of the 53-man roster will likely be decided after that game.
As we inch closer to the regular season, the contract status for the Dallas Cowboys' newest version of the triplets and the construction of the 53-man roster will have even greater emphasis in the news.
Thanks for your questions this week. Let's did into this week's Cowboys Nation Mailbag.
How long until all of cowboys twitter completely turns on Zeke? Like immediately after pollards first long td run or????
— E.D.I.T.H. (@cashfeen) August 19, 2019
I guess it depends on what segment of Cowboys Twitter you're talking about.
Contract situations and hold outs always create some tension within the fanbase. They expect players to show up for work as they do. You hear people talk about Elliott fulfilling the agreement of his contract. But what people don't understand is that rookie contracts and the rookie salary scale was negotiated by players already in the league to avoid rookies making Sam Bradford type money. The veterans and to some extent the owners didn't like the idea that rookies could hold out of training camp to negotiate their first contract.
So, when Ezekiel Elliott was drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, he was locked into a contract length (including a team option for a fifth season) and a salary and bonus for the length of that contract.
The other thing to consider is that Elliott is doing exactly what the collective bargaining agreement allows him to do. Though the Dallas Cowboys can fine him, Elliott is permitted by the CBA to seek a contract extension after the third season of his rookie contract, just like you saw Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints do earlier this summer.
I get that fans are frustrated by the idea of a player "not honoring his contract," but in the NFL, that's the way football goes. The owners don't always honor the contracts they've agreed to, cutting a player with guaranteed money left on his deal because his play might have dropped off or simply because he doesn't warrant the cap hit.
But as Mike Leslie of WFAA recently pointed out on Twitter, our jobs aren't like NFL jobs.
There are a lot of folks that understand that there is a business side to all of this. The players, the coaches, and a large segment of Cowboys Nation all understand where Ezekiel Elliott is coming from. Even the "running backs don't matter" truthers aren't throwing Ezekiel Elliott under the bus for holding out for a new contract.
As I've said before, don't get mad at Ezekiel Elliott or even the Dallas Cowboys for the current state of his contract negotiations. Get mad at the Los Angeles Rams for setting a precedent that Ezekiel Elliott is attempting to take advantage of.
Ezekiel Elliott is only doing what's permitted by the CBA. Though the negotiations continue to drag on, there's still three weeks left till the start of the regular season, which is plenty of time to get a deal done.
Until this holdout lasts until the regular season, you shouldn't worry.
Actually John, I do have a question. I haven't reviewed film from Saturday yet (that's my Tuesday deal each week of the season), but your take on Taco? I thought he had maybe his best preseason game in some time. Enough to secure a spot?
— Marlon C Taylor (@MarlonCTaylor) August 19, 2019
Taco Charlton has done some nice things in the preseason thus far. He's been able to create pressure, and by Bobby Belt's splash metric, Taco Charlton is leading the team.
Cowboys leaders in disruptions (sack, TFL, QB hit, INT, PD, FF) through two preseason games:
1. Taco Charlton - 4
2. Donovan Olumba - 3
t3. Ricky Walker - 2
t3. Kerry Hyder - 2
t3. Trysten Hill - 2
t3. Joe Jackson - 2
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) August 19, 2019
Obviously, this isn't the only way to evaluate talent, but it does give an indication that Taco Charlton has been good this preseason. I've long believed that Taco was going to make the 53-man roster for the sheer fact that he was a first-round draft pick. That may not be a good enough reason for some, but he's a player that the Dallas Cowboys won't give up on lightly. He's doing enough at this point in the preseason to warrant another year.
Cutting Taco Charlton in 2019 actually costs you money. It would cost the Dallas Cowboys roughly $3.5 million in 2019, but they could save $1.3 million in 2020. It's not likely that the Cowboys will pick up his fifth-year rookie option, which would be for 2021. Financially, the only move that would make sense is a trade, which would cost the Dallas Cowboys only $1.3 million in dead money.
While I think Taco Charlton is a player that is destined for the 53-man roster, with reports that DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford are about to be activated from the physically unable to perform (P.U.P) list, it may come down to a numbers game at defensive end.
Players like Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, Kerry Hyder, and even Jalen Jelks may have something to say about Taco Charlton's spot on the 53-man roster, but I believe they give him another year to prove he's worth retaining.
PFF Ranks Dak Prescott As Tier 3, 17th Overall Quarterback
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the subject of constant debate around the football world. Now that it's getting time to pay him, those debates are even hotter.
As I discussed last week, Prescott has been much better than he's often given credit for, though the narrative continues to be that he is carried by his offensive line and rushing attack.
Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks heading into the 2019 season, placing them both in tiers, and in traditional order as well. Prescott clocked in at 17th overall on their list, listed as a tier 3 NFL starting quarterback.
"Tier 3: Volatile or conservative quarterbacks whose production will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and play calling. Tier 3 quarterbacks can post top-10 production in any given year in the right situation."
The other quarterbacks listed in Prescott's tier include Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Cam Newton, all ranked in front of him. Prescott is ahead of a couple of tier 3 passers as well, though, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr.
"Even with his added rushing ability, Prescott has settled in as a mid-tier quarterback whose production is more dependent on his supporting cast, and this will be a big year to see if he can get back to his rookie levels of efficiency."
Personally, I'd rank Prescott ahead of a decent number of those tier 3 quarterbacks, such as Stafford and Cousins. Overall, though, it's tough to have too big an issue with their assessment of Prescott and the Cowboys offense. He has been somewhat up-and-down during his time as the Cowboys starter, and saw a big spike in his play when given Amari Cooper as a weapon in the passing game a year ago.
While the entire fanbase is hopeful that he will improve on his mechanics and decision making under new leadership on offense, we can't bank on that happening just yet.
Still, Dak Prescott has looked excellent this preseason, and should be poised for a career year in 2019. I think there's a good chance he finds himself closer to Wentz and Watson on these types of rankings than Carr and Stafford by this time next season.
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