"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
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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