If you were unaware, which I highly doubt, yesterday was officially Back To The Future Day. October 21st, 2015 is the day that Marty McFly and the Doc traveled to in Part II of the franchise, a day that proved to be important throughout the films.
Yesterday was all about reliving the films, examining how much of the future the filmmakers got right, and living in the past (or future, however you want to look at it).
With the successes of such prominent older NFL stars in 2015, it seems that this season is living in the past as well. Who would’ve thought that Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and Matt Hasselbeck would play such prominent roles this year? Certainly not Marty and the Doc.
Perhaps nobody lives more in the past than the hype surrounding Odell Beckham Jr. and whatever that catch was last season (a game that resulted in a loss mind you), but today is about the future. Today I play the role of Robert Zemeckis from the trilogy that we just celebrated as I predict the future.
I’m only predicting this weekend, not 30 years down the road, so my job is a little easier. Now climb on in to my DeLorean and hold on tight, we’re about to hit 88 miles per hour (hopefully with a Dez Bryant version) as we pick this week’s NFL matchups.
Thursday Night Football: Seattle Seahawks (2-4) At San Francisco 49ers (2-4)
Rewind two years and this would be one of the premier games of the week. The Seahawks are a long way away from the days of winning their only Super Bowl in franchise history. The offense can’t get it going, Marshawn has yet to reach Beast Mode, and the Legion of Boom has lost its luster. Seattle still has an incredible amount of talent on their roster, but they’re not clicking and it’s showing.
San Francisco actually looked like a real football team last Sunday, sort of. Colin Kaepernick managed to exorcise his Super Bowl XLVII demons by beating the Baltimore Ravens, and I think the Niners might be on to something here. There’s no question that they have talent at the offensive skill positions, and they tend to play very well against the Seahawks. Division games never go the way you think they will, and I think San Fran is going to shock some folks.
Prediction: Seahawks – 16, 49ERS - 23
London Game: Buffalo Bills (3-3) At Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)
The Bills have shown flashes of being for real this season, but they’ll be taking on Jacksonville without Tyrod Taylor AND Sammy Watkins. Amazingly, EJ Manuel kept the Bills in the game last week against Cincinnati, so I think he’s better than I’m giving him credit for (which isn’t much).
These Jaguars (as the British pronounce Jag-You-Ares) are going to be good in the next few years. I really, really like what they have on offense… they’re just a tad too young. They’re practically a London expansion team, but the Jaguars aren’t contenders yet.
Prediction: BILLS – 29, Jaguars - 27
Atlanta Falcons (5-1) At Tennessee Titans (1-4)
Atlanta may be 5-0, but it is a mirage I tell you, a mirage! They have four wins against the NFC East (a division that many people think is porous this season) and a win against the Houston Texans. It’s unimpressive. The Falcons do have the makings of a good team though, and I think they’re certainly good enough to beat the Titans.
Imagine being a Titans fan. It’s like football purgatory. They’re going to get waxed here. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Prediction: FALCONS – 34, Titans - 10
Cleveland Browns (2-4) At St. Louis Rams (2-3)
This is going to be the ugliest thing that our eyes have ever seen (and I’m counting that horrendous play call that the Colts had last Sunday Night). Aside from how bad these two teams are, the uniform matchup is atrocious. I don’t even want to pick this. Are you really going to make me?
Fine. The Rams D is legit. Give me that and some dark sunglasses so I can hide myself from this.
Prediction: Browns – 17, RAMS - 21
Minnesota Vikings (3-2) At Detroit Lions (1-5)
The Vikings are starting to become who we all thought that they would this offseason. Mike Zimmer has quietly built a pretty intense defense over at the University of Minnesota’s stadium, but his prized quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has only tossed three touchdowns. Adrian Peterson hasn’t totally reincarnated his 2,000-yard self either, the Vikings are stagnant.
The Lions are just making a living (whether it’s winning or losing) off of controversial calls these days. They finally notched themselves a win last week against the Bears (and should have pulled one out in Seattle). I think they’ve got some positive momentum going their way and that Matthew Stafford is going to sling that rock 83 times as the Lions do this thing.
Prediction: Vikings – 13, LIONS - 28
New Orleans Saints (2-4) At Indianapolis Colts (3-3)
The most famous crazy call of all time actually was made by Sean Payton AGAINST the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Going with an onside kick to start the second half turned out to be the greatest decision he ever made, but he’s starting to recapture that magic with his current decision-making. Drew Brees and Co. looked a lot like the Saints of old last week down in the Superdome and you know what? I’m a believer.
The Colts are a thread away from completely unraveling this season. That thread might have been Chuck Pagano’s call on 4th and 3 last week. This team is about to quit mentally.
Prediction: SAINTS – 30, Colts - 27
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) At Kansas City Chiefs (1-5)
If your hopes and dreams rest on the arm of Landry Jones you are not exactly in an envious spot. The Steelers are hopeful that Mr. Jones can get things going this week as Michael, Mike… whatever he wants to be called, Vick is just not cooking with gas anymore. Landry is about to throw some Martavis and Antonio on the grill and cook up a nice game.
The Chiefs are a disaster. When they beat the Texans in Week 1 the sky seemed to be the limit, but the loss of Jamaal Charles has left them in a state of complete grossness. Their offense actually hurts my eyes. It is that bad. Yuck.
Prediction: STEELERS – 22, Chiefs – 14
Houston Texans (2-4) At Miami Dolphins (2-3)
Dan Campbell has this Dolphins team believing, and that makes a team really dangerous. He has them angry and frustrated and wondering if he’s the heir to Campbell’s Soup. He’s going to have them in the winner’s circle on Sunday, book it.
Prediction: Texans – 17, DOLPHINS – 25
New York Jets (4-1) At New England Patriots (5-0)
This game is very, very interesting. The Jets are a long way removed from the days of the butt fumble, and they’re actually rolling right now. I love their offense, which amazingly is quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brandon Marshall is dominating all over the field right now. This game is Revis’ chance to prove that he is better than the Pats, but he’ll have to stop Tom Brady to do it.
The Patriots cannot be stopped right now. A lot of people, myself included, predicted them dropping the Jedi Force on the Colts last week… a game in which Indianapolis competed down to the wire. We were all a week early. Belichick, Brady, and the bunch have all ahd to hear about how the Jets have a chance in this game. They don’t like that.
Prediction: Jets – 23, PATRIOTS – 51
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) At Washington Redskins (2-4)
If you feel like laughing on Sunday then tune into this monstrosity. The Buccaneers and Redskins… might as well be the first graders versus the kindergarteners. Give me the Bucs, in what will actually be a high-scoring game.
Prediction: BUCCANEERS – 38, Redskins – 33
Oakland Raiders (2-3) At San Diego Chargers (2-4)
The Chiefs have volunteered to be the AFC West sacrificial lamb, but whoever loses this game is going to be in a tough spot moving towards the second half of the season. With that much on the line I wouldn’t bet against Philip Rivers.
Prediction: Raiders – 19, CHARGERS - 32
Dallas Cowboys (2-3) At New York Giants (3-3)
Remember when Eli Manning threw it away on third and goal down near the Dallas end zone? If it were possible to set a video as a ringtone, that would be mine. The Giants blew their Week 1 game against the Cowboys and they know it.
The Cowboys will have a new face at quarterback (Matt Cassel), left guard (La’el Collins), and in the running back rotation (Christine Michael). Did I mention that Rolando McClain will be there? Oh and Greg Hardy. Don’t’ forget Randy Gregory is coming back. Do you think that you and I should suit up? We’re good? We’re good.
We’re good. The Cowboys are going to take back the NFC East on Sunday. Our favorite quarterback Elisha Manning is going to make an appearance under the bodies of many Cowboy defenders. Get your jersey out, make some queso, and save me a seat on the couch. We’re going to have fun on Sunday.
Prediction: COWBOYS – 22, Giants - 10
Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) At Carolina Panthers (5-0)
It felt terrible rooting for the Eagles last week. I’m talking ridiculously terrible. I might have caught a fever. As a result I am going ALL-IN on the Panthers this week. I might buy a Cam Newton jersey and everything.
The Eagles should buy a Cam jersey as well though; because that’s the only way they’re going to get their hands on one. This is going to be an exclamation point on what is an MVP-type season for the former Heisman Winner and Number One Overall Pick. Fly, Superman, Fly.
Prediction: Eagles – 15, PANTHERS - 33
Monday Night Football: Baltimore Ravens (1-5) At Arizona Cardinals (4-2)
The Ravens are a dumpster fire, it’s actually kind of sad. The Cardinals are going to get back on track after losing to the Steelers this week. Bruce Arians is going to have them in tip-top shape.
Prediction: Ravens – 16, CARDINALS – 42
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Should Cowboys Pursue Former Raider Bruce Irvin?
Star Blog3 days ago
Should Cowboys Stick With Xavier Su’a-Filo at Left Guard?
Star Blog3 days ago
How Cowboys Could Regain a 2019 1st-Round Draft Pick
Player News1 week ago
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
Next Day Rant: Dak Prescott Shows Big Flaws in Big Win
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Is Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones to be Trusted?
Star Blog5 days ago
Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time
Star Blog2 weeks ago
The Jason Garrett-Era Has Hit Rock Bottom