"Did you watch last week's episode?" My friend Gina and I anxiously asked our friend Matt.
"Uh, I'm not sure. Was it the one where Naomi was crying the whole time?" Matt asked.
"Yea! What happened after that?" Gina and I pressed on.
I'm a firm believer in no spoilers when it comes to tv, movies, books, etc. so I don't want to ruin anything for anyone. Gina and I wanted to make sure that Matt had seen the episode so we could discuss one of the bigger moments the show had experienced in quite some time.
"I'm pretty sure that I saw it. She lost the competition and had to be consoled by Peter, right?" Matt was verifying that it was the episode in question.
Gina and I nodded our heads.
"Ok then yea, I definitely saw it!" Matt exclaimed. All clear - fire at will.
"Alright so what did you think when Henry died?!" I asked.
"HENRY DIES??!?!?!?!?" Matt's jaw dropped to the floor, "WHAT?! WHY WOULD YOU TELL ME THAT???"
"You said you saw it! You told me that you did!" I defended myself.
"UGHHH I think I fell asleep. I can't believe Henry dies!" Matt was a mess.
It turns out that Matt had indeed fallen asleep right after Peter consoled Naomi. He missed the big moment of the show - Henry's death. The whole ordeal has become a running joke within my friends. Any time we want to avoid spoilers in anything we drop the infamous line, "Henry dies."
Don't call me a hypocrite, but I'm about to tell you how every NFL game ends. All the winners, all the losers, and all the sad Matts in the corner. Get ready to find out just how Henry dies.
Thursday Night Football: Cleveland Browns (2-6) At Cincinnati Bengals (7-0)
The Browns are a mess, man. They almost traded the most stable piece of their entire franchise, Joe Thomas, this week. They've got Johnny Football lining up under center, but even his magic might not be enough to save a franchise that just seems intent on making terrible decisions.
The Bengals made a big statement when they took a very firm grip on the AFC North by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. It's not smart to go against the Bengals and since my mom tells me I'm super smart I'm rolling with the Bengals on Thursday Night. Who Dey.
Prediction: Browns - 13, BENGALS - 33
Miami Dolphins (3-4) At Buffalo Bills (3-4)
Well it turns out that beating the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans does not adequately prepare you for the New England Patriots. The Dolphins were embarrassed in every conceivable way last week despite coming into the game with some strong momentum. I love a lot of their offense, but the Bills D is straight nasty. Sorry Tannehill, you'll be getting hit a lot.
CIRCLE THE WAGONS! The Bills are relevant in November for the first time in a long time, and count me as one of the happier ones for it. Tyrod Taylor should be back for this game, and that's going to make a huge difference. The Bills have one of the better home crowds in the NFL and on Sunday they're going to channel all of their fans with a big dubayoo.
Prediction: Dolphins - 17, BILLS - 26
Green Bay Packers (6-1) At Carolina Panthers (7-0)
It seems as if Aaron Rodgers is not perfect. The reigning MVP was under a lot of fire last week when the Broncos reincarnated Orange Crush got to him all night. He's great at holding a grudge and channeling it in his performance, but that scary pass rush? The Panthers have one of their own.
The whole Panthers defense is scary. Luke Kuechly is so much fun to watch. He's what I imagine football in the 50s and 60s to look like at the linebacker position. Cam Newton is playing like this year's MVP and is continually finding ways to get wins for the Panthers. Watch him do it again this week.
Prediction: Packers - 27, PANTHERS - 30
Tennessee Titans (1-6) At New Orleans Saints (4-4)
All of the Tennessee fans held their head high after Marcus Mariota arrived to the NFL with an emphatic Week 1 performance... and they have since come crashing back down to earth. They fired their head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, this week and are a mess everywhere.
It took seven touchdowns through the air, but Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints did Cowboys Nation a HUGE favor last week when they beat the New York Giants. Brees is starting to cook with gas and look like the fantasy football monster that we've all come to know him to be over the last decade. Give me the Saints by a lot.
Prediction: Titans - 12, SAINTS - 41
Oakland Raiders (4-3) At Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
This is not a drill. The Oakland Raiders have a better record than the Pittsburgh Steelers at a point in the season past Week 8. I repeat: THIS IS NOT A DRILL. The Raiders look good, man. They're finding ways to win and sent a big message to the NFL last week when they took down the surprisingly relevant New York Jets. Get ready for what comes next.
I'm obviously a Cowboys fan so I'm no stranger to big-time injuries this season, but you've got to feel bad for the Steelers. First Lev Bell was suspended, then Big Ben got hurt, and now Bell is out for the rest of the year. They had their three big playmakers altogether on the field for about 20 minutes this season. It's hard to come back from that emotional punch in the gut so quickly. That leads me to this:
Prediction: RAIDERS - 31, Steelers - 26
St. Louis Rams (4-3) At Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
It was never realistic to expect that the Cowboys could have drafted Todd Gurley, but man imagine if they had? This dude is for real and on all kinds of fire this season. Couple that with an elite pass rush on the other side and you have a recipe that's hard for teams to beat on Sundays. They're whipping up a new batch on Sunday and it's going to taste awful good.
Adrian Peterson hasn't exactly returned to his 2012 form like a lot of people wildly speculated. Teddy Bridgewater hasn't necessarily turned into even a semi-elite quarterback... the Vikings are just kind of there. At 5-2. It's weird. I don't trust them to take out an elite offensive weapon like Todd Gurley, so get ready to watch Adrian Peterson watch the next great running back.
Prediction: RAMS - 24, Vikings - 16
Washington Redskins (3-4) At New England Patriots (7-0)
The Washington Redskins. In Foxborough. Against Tommy Brady and the Patriots. Child, please.
Prediction: Redskins - 13, PATRIOTS - 43
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-5) At New York Jets (4-3)
The Jaguars are two weeks removed from a big win across the pond. They have a lot of exciting pieces on the offensive side of the ball and you have to wonder what shape their defense would be in if Dante Fowler hadn't been injured right after the draft. Taking a cruise ship to Revis Island is never a good idea, but I think the Jaguars have a decent chance in this one.
New York lost a tough one last week in Oakland, but was that due to their own deficiencies or the rise of the Raiders? I say it's both! And I say we're in store for the same story this week. The Jets have a hobbled Ryan Fitzpatrick and both Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall are hurting. It doesn't look good for them all of a sudden, and wouldn't it be the most Jets thing ever to lose to the Raiders AND Jaguars?
Prediction: JAGUARS - 26, Jets - 23
Atlanta Falcons (6-2) At San Francisco 49ers (2-6)
If you follow me on Twitter then you know that I think that the Falcons are massively overrated. Their six wins are the NFC East, the Texans, and the Titans.
As overrated as the Falcons are... the 49ers are just a flaming piece of garbage. You know you've hit rock bottom when you bench Colin Kaepernick for Blaine Gabbert.
Prediction: FALCONS - 27, 49ers - 10
New York Giants (4-4) At Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)
Cowboys Nation caught a big break last week when the Giants lost to the Saints (despite putting up 49 points). I'd love to sit here and tell you that the Buccaneers are going to take care of them as well, but that's just not realistic. The Giants have a lot of offensive weapons, and the Bucs can barely tie their cleats.
I know, I know... the Bucs beat the Falcons last week. That has a lot to do with why Atlanta is in fact overrated. I think they've got a cute little pep in their step, but it won't be enough to stop the Giants. Boo.
Prediction: GIANTS - 30, Buccaneers - 17
Denver Broncos (7-0) At Indianapolis Colts (3-5)
I've got a similar feeling in my gut for the Broncos as I do the Falcons. The style of football that they're playing is neat and everything, but nobody can sustain that across a whole season. Peyton Manning got away with a par-for-the-course performance last week, but that was with two weeks worth of rest. It's hard to see Peyton lighting it up in Indy.
The Colts are a fire hazard at this point. They should be questioned a hundred times more than the Cowboys as they have all of their offensive weapons and still cannot put the puzzle together. A date with the defense of the Denver Broncos isn't exactly what the doctor ordered, no way the Colts get this done on Sunday.
Prediction: BRONCOS - 21, Colts - 16
Sunday Night Football: Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) At Dallas Cowboys (2-5)
The return of DeMarco Murray.
The Eagles have had two weeks to mope and pout since their Sunday Night loss to the Carolina Panthers. It's hard to believe that Sam Bradford somehow learned how to play quarterback or not trip over his own feet in just 14 days, so I'm really not that scared of the Eagles in this game. They're going to meet a new friend, though!
Greg Hardy did not play when the Cowboys beat the Eagles in Week 2 of this season. He's going to introduce himself on Sunday Night. The Hardy Boys have held opposing offenses to just 13 points in their most recent two games, it shouldn't be hard to do the same to Chip Kelly's Crew.
The last win that the Dallas Cowboys had was over these same Eagles, seven long weeks ago. It seems only fitting that the exorcism of the horror that we've endured would be complete when we get rid of the Eagles. If you read my Don't Stop Believing post last week then you know that the Cowboys getting the victory here is a crucial step for the "Plan A" sequence that was set in motion last week. Get ready because it's going down. I'm yelling timber.
Prediction: Eagles - 13, COWBOYS - 23
Monday Night Football: Chicago Bears (2-5) At San Diego Chargers (2-6)
Da Bears haven't looked like themselves in quite some time, but the Chargers aren't setting NFL records either. This is a snooze-fest of a Monday Night Game... a great time to get a jump on early Christmas shopping (I don't have an Apple Watch... just saying).
The Chargers are without their star receiver Keenan Allen for the rest of the year, but I expect Stevie Johnson to carry them in his absence. Look for Philip Rivers to continue the offensive roll that he's been on as the San Diego Super Chargers light this thing up.
Prediction: Bears - 17, CHARGERS - 31
Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys have what many believe to be the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. However, you can never undervalue the importance of depth at any position. When the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft came around, the Cowboys added another weapon to the backfield by selecting Tony Pollard out of Memphis.
If you’re looking for a dynamic player maker with the ability to take it to the house at any given moment, Pollard is your man. The former Tiger averaged a touchdown every 13 touches in college. That’s an absolutely insane statistic when you think about it. He also tied an NCAA record with seven kick returns for touchdowns. Long story short, he can get you six points at the blink of an eye.
The versatility in his game is outrageous and undoubtedly the reason why he was drafted. In addition to running for 941 yards on 6.8 yards per rush, he also had 104 receptions for 1,292 yards. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to be salivating about the possibilities with his new toy. Having a running back that can not only carry the load as a runner but also line up at receiver keeps the defense honest. You never know what angle the offense is going to come from.
This has to be a sigh of relief for Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Cowboys don’t have to overexert him and can bring Pollard in on third downs if need be. Not just to give Elliott a breather but to change the pace of the offensive attack. You can hand the ball off, throw it to him or run jet sweeps when he is on the field. This sets up a potential combo at running back that could be the leagues very best shortly.
Speed, quickness, and agility are all wrapped up in the Tony Pollard package. The Cowboys now have a running back that can line up at multiple positions if need be. Also, this prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body of Ezekiel Elliott. This combination has all the potential to set the NFL on fire in 2019.
CB Byron Jones Not Expected To Return Until Week 1 Against NYG
Coming off what was clearly the best season of his career thus far, Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones underwent surgery to hopefully fix a nagging hip injury.
While he earned both his first All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, his first season as a full-time cornerback, Jones still has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Some still criticize him for his lack of interceptions, and there's no doubt his stellar play slowed down a bit towards the end of the year.
I'm willing to wager that the slight decline had a lot to do with his hip troubles, but nonetheless he must come up with his elite level play once again to earn himself a nice contract somewhere in 2020.
Oh, did I forget to mention it's also a contract year for Byron Jones? As it is for so many important Dallas Cowboys, it seems.
So when will Byron Jones be able to return to the Cowboys' lineup? Well, the initial date reportedly set by Jones and the team was late July, giving him a chance to practice and play a bit before the season opener in September. But, according to the Team Site this week, that date may be pushed back a bit, and we might not see Byron Jones until that season opening game against the Giants.
"As for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don’t expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills." - Mickey Spagnola
Ultimately, as long as Byron Jones is good to go when the regular season starts, that's all that matters, but the fear of rust when Jones returns is a real one.
It's tough to go from no live football straight to the meaningful games, but if anyone would be able to do it it would be the guy with the freakishly athletic traits. The guy who can get out of the bed in the morning and set athletic records at the Combine.
And, of course, that guy is Byron Jones.
Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure
When the 2016 NFL Draft came around the Dallas Cowboys were in search of the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Unfortunately, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, Romo would find himself on the shelf again after suffering a broken bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seahawks. However, the Cowboys had an ace in the hole, in the form of Dak Prescott who they drafted in the fourth round.
The idea was the groom him for a few years before taking the keys to the car so to speak from Romo, but fate had another idea in mind. Prescott would be thrust into the starting lineup against one of the Cowboys most hated rivals to start the season, the New York Giants. Added to that, was the pressure of living up to Romo's stellar resume as the franchise's all-time leading passer. After struggling in a tough 20-19 loss, no surprise there for a rookie quarterback, Prescott began to take flight.
Over the next eleven games he wouldn't suffer a single loss as the Cowboys were sitting pretty at 11-1. What made this streak more impressive was the efficiency of Prescott. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions over that span. In the process, he set an NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception with 176. This broke the previous record held by Tom Brady of 162. It didn't stop there, as he also set a rookie record for completion percentage (67.8), was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Cowboys would finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the franchise only winning two postseason games in 21 years, Prescott was definitely under the microscope. After the offense struggled to produce points in the first half and fell behind 21-3, Prescott lead a furious comeback. Helping the team storm all the way back to tie the game at 28 and again at 31. He finished with 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first playoff start against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Even though the team lost 34-31, Prescott proved how much of a gamer he was as he basically went yard for yard and point for point with one of the NFL's elite signal-callers. It was clear the Cowboys were in good hands going forward.
2017 started off well as the Cowboys were 5-3 and firmly on pace for another playoff run. Unfortunately, All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott lost his fierce battle with the NFL over domestic violence allegations, and Dak along with the offense struggled. After a 9-7 season and falling one game short of a Wild Card berth, the pressure on Prescott heading into the next season was immense.
Once 2018 came about Prescott had more pressure than ever with Elliott back for a full season. After a slow 3-4 start the Cowboys traded for Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, providing the team with it's first true number one receiver since Dez Bryant. Putting even more expectations on Prescott to turn things around, and boy did he ever.
He would complete 71.6% of his passes in the final eight games of the season, and the Cowboys won seven to finish 10-6. Now, with another division title under his belt, came a playoff matchup with Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Russell Wilson.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hanging on to a 17-14 lead. They faced a 3rd and 14 inside the redone with just over two minutes left. After dropping back a few steps, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards setting up a first and goal from the one-yard line. The team held on for a 24-22 victory but here's why that scramble was so important.
If the Cowboys don't convert that 3rd and long that would've set up a field goal attempt. Assuming it would have been successful, that would've only put them up 20-14. Giving Seattle a chance to more than likely win with a touchdown and an extra point or two-point conversion. Prescott essentially won the game with that 3rd down run. Proving once again there's no situation he can't handle.
He's set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. No quarterback has won more games than him since 2016 except Tom Brady. No one has more game-winning drives than him since he entered the league. His 13 primetime victories are tops in the NFL over the last three seasons. Simply put, Dak Prescott is a winner and doesn't fold under pressure, instead, he embraces it. There are no bigger lights in the NFL than the ones that shine in Dallas. With those lights come huge expectations and pressure, and it's clear this young man is made of the right stuff to handle it.
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