Every week I sit down and crank out my 5 Bold Predictions for the upcoming Dallas Cowboys game here at Inside The Star. America's Team is on a bye this week, so I don't know what to do! There are no bold predictions to write! Sad face.
In the spirits of persistence and creativity, I decided to pen this weekly column but with cinco bold predictions for the NFC East as a whole. As things stand through Week 6, here are the standings across the NFL.
NFL standings through Week 6, according to my mini helmet display.
- The Dallas Cowboys are 5-1, 1-1 in NFC East play.
- The Washington Redskins are 4-2, 2-1 in NFC East play.
- The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-2, 0-1 in NFC East play.
- The New York Giants are 3-3, 1-1 in NFC East play.
With the Cowboys on a bye we'll see the Redskins in Detroit, the Eagles hosting a Sam Bradford-led Vikings squad, and the Giants in London taking on the Rams.
The NFC East was a collective joke last year, but it is the most intriguing division in football six weeks into 2016. As a result some interesting things are going to happen, and there is never interesting without boldness. Here are my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
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Matthew Stafford Throws 3 Touchdowns Against The Redskins In A Losing Effort
Matthew Stafford has thrown three or more touchdowns in four of six games this season, that's 66%. I like those odds.
Now even though Stafford's Lions have won three of these four games, 75% for you math nerds, I don't think that trend continues. Washington's secondary is beat up, and that's why Stafford is going to feast; however, Matt Jones is gaining steam behind Bill Callahan's Offensive Line.
Washington was without the services of Tight End Jordan Reed last week when they beat the Eagles, and in his absence Matt Jones delivered 135 yards... not to mention Jones helped the Redskins hold onto the ball for 34:13. That's Cowboys football.
Stafford is low-key awesome in 2016, and he'll get his in this game. The Redskins, thanks in large part to Bill Callahan, know how to grind out a game and win so they'll do so despite a great Stafford game.
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Sam Bradford Has Twice As Many Yards As Carson Wentz
In the eleventh hour of the preseason, the Philadelphia Eagles pulled off what seemed to be the biggest joke across the league when they sent quarterback Sam Bradford to the Vikings, who had just lost Teddy Bridgewater, for a 1st Round Pick and change.
The joke is apparently on all of us, and Sam Bradford is the one who pulled it. Bradford's Vikings, who he's started for since Week 2, are 5-0 and coming off a bye. Sam is, approximately seven weeks later, returning to the land that once scorned him. Goodnight, Eagles.
Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has been impressive. We all know that. He's just in for a test beyond his comprehension in the Vikings Defense, oh and Sam Bradford is pissed. Sammy not-so-short-sleeves is going to double Carson's yardage on Sunday. Bam.
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New York Giants Players Make A Statement Regarding Kicker Josh Brown
Thursday was a rough day for the National Football League. The recent revelations regarding Giants Kicker Josh Brown surely caused panic around the league offices, and the Giants certainly didn't escape water. They released a statement saying Brown would not fly to London with the team, and late Thursday evening they signed veteran kicker Robbie Gould.
2016 has been a weird season so far. Political protests have been all the rage, and tv ratings are down. Things feel... murky.
This whole situation is difficult for any team, but imagine being the Giants. They're in a foreign land and dealing with circumstances totally out of their normal routine (the irony here is that it's all for the purposes of growing the brand that refuses to do anything about Josh Brown). Can't you see some of them rallying together and doing something in response to all this? I can, because Odell Beckham Jr. likes attention so much he continues to use a kicking net as a prop.
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Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, And Eli Manning Will Combine For Six Interceptions
Kirk Cousins has six interceptions in as many games. Eli Manning has a six pack of picks as well. Carson Wentz, to his credit, has thrown a single pass into the arms of the other team.
This trio of misfits just wants to total six interceptions for me. I can smell it from their ineptitude!
Wentz is undoubtedly going to have his worst day against the Vikings defense so let's take one right there. Kirk is the human turnover so he's good for a double dosage of interceptions, and Eli... oh sweet Elisha. After a week of controversy and an adventure across the pond Eli is going to hit the trifecta of suckage with a hat trick of whoopsies.
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Each NFC East Team Will Miss A Field Goal
We've already addressed the difference in the Giants kicking game, and while Robbie Gould has been fairly consistent over the course of his career... jumping onto a team mid-week in another country is a tall order. He's good for a miss.
Eagles Kicker Caleb Sturgis has missed one field goal this season, as has Redskins Kicker Dustin Hopkins. One is all we need, baby!
At the end of the day everybody wishes they were/had Dan Bailey. The Giants, Eagles, and Redskins are all going to be painfully reminded that they don't have Bailey when each of their kickers poo-poo an opportunity at three points. Huzzah.
Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett?
Training camp is always an exciting time for the Dallas Cowboys, with 2018's proceedings being no exception. A major difference this year is the hype carrying over to the Cowboys coaching staff, featuring newcomers at the positional level everywhere but running back, safety, and defensive tackle.
Experienced coaches like Kris Richard, Paul Alexander, and Sanjay Lal will have a big impact on the Cowboys development as a 9-7 team that's only gotten younger this offseason. Still likely in need of a playoff appearance to save the job of Head Coach Jason Garrett and his coordinators, one can't help but question Garrett's effectiveness with this year's team.
The Cowboys appearance on NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series offered Cowboys Nation a rare look inside this team's day-to-day activities, including Garrett's role as a motivator and leader to many coaches no longer with the team.
Garrett's walk through a proverbial hall of mirrors at The Star reflects much deeper though. Ultimately, it's the players that decide games on Sundays, and the Cowboys didn't have enough of their blue chip ones on the field together for 2017. Whether or not this changes in 2018, the Cowboys can do little to shake the truth that conditions must be perfect for Garrett to captain this team to success.
If having a future Hall of Fame tight end like Jason Witten around wasn't enough for Garrett, going all in on this team in their first year without not only Witten but Dez Bryant feels foolish.
This underdog status and youthful nature may very well bring the Cowboys back to their 2016 form. I've already mentioned mirrors however, and how about the smoke? Garrett's best year out of eight full seasons, that 13-3 campaign was surely not all 'smoke and mirrors', but it is now far enough in the past to expect improvement from the Cowboys head coach.
Garrett must overcome massive changes on the offense he once coordinated to see third-year Quarterback Dak Prescott put this team back in the playoff picture, or the Cowboys will only continue to change face even more dramatically for 2019.
Long gone are the innocent days of Garrett playing catch under the California sun with a rookie Prescott, who had no idea the impact he'd make on the entirety of this franchise so quickly. Now, the Cowboys may have to quickly separate this duo if looking to preserve a window of contention under Dak's rookie contract.
It truly will be fascinating to see the new points of emphasis this revamped Cowboys coaching staff brings to the team not only on the field in Oxnard but through their team meetings and into the regular season. As Garrett allows the likes of Richard and Lal to oversee important changes at CB/S and WR respectively, his overarching message of character, competition, and respect will still echo throughout the team.
Whether or not the slew of new players Garrett has to coach can inspire him to implement this message effectively, or if his days are numbered given the slack the Cowboys have already provided, is the most important story line for the Cowboys in 2018.
By most team's standards, a 9-7 season given the circumstances around the Cowboys a year ago is acceptable -- which it ultimately was for Dallas as they kept Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli.
This team's shortcomings through a disappointing season was enough for the Cowboys to begin reevaluating the coaches below this trio though, leaving only their ninth year head coach to fall victim to the level of turnover NFL teams are experiencing on the fly right now.
The Cowboys roster has received this message loud and clear. Will Garrett's carry the same impetus, and will it truly matter for the 2018 season?
Is WR Cedrick Wilson the Player With Most to Gain in Training Camp?
Within the Dallas Cowboys' uncertain wide receiver core, is sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson. Considered a draft steal by many, Wilson's name is often lost in the mix among Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley and third round rookie Michael Gallup. Just days away from the start of the 2018 training camp, Cedrick Wilson might be the player with the most to gain on the team.
Wilson comes from the Boise State Broncos, where he set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,511 last year. As a sixth-round rookie, the young 22-year old receiver has an uphill battle ahead of him to earn a spot on the Cowboys' 53-man roster.
It shouldn't come as a surprise if he emerges victorious in this battle, though.
You see, the lack of a #1 receiver has been one of the main story lines for the Cowboys and for good reason. Heading into the preseason, there is no clear-cut "#1." But even though there isn't a big name such as Dez Bryant, I'm sure we'll feel way better about the wide receivers once the season starts and the offense manages to sustain a good passing attack led by Dak Prescott.
Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup seem like the two front-runners for being the "X" receivers on offense, the position in which Wilson lined up at Boise State during his last year in college football. It's tough to imagine a sixth round rookie being the starting "X" receiver in his rookie season, but that doesn't mean he can't earn an important role at some point of the year.
In 2017, the offense struggled due to the receivers failing to create separation downfield. Wilson, although a raw route-runner, was a very dangerous vertical threat in Boise State and could be just that for the Cowboys down the road.
He needs to improve as a player, but with Sanjay Lal focusing hard at route-running with his receivers, Cedrick could become an important target for Dak earlier than expected.
In order to do so, the young wide receiver will have to find success in training camp. Wide receiver will undoubtedly be one of the most intriguing position battles on the team, with many young yet unproven talent.
There's too many receivers that will be fighting for a roster spot over the following weeks, so Cowboys Nation is bound to be disappointed with so many so-called "pet cats." One or two of these guys will be released and I bet it'll hurt, just as it happens every year.
In all seriousness, though, with his ability to stretch the field and be a vertical threat plus his experience as an "X" receiver, Cedrick Wilson might not only make the roster, but become a significant piece for this new-look offense in Dallas during his rookie season.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
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