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
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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