Tag: Dallas Cowboys

Is the NFC East the NFL’s worst division?

There’s really no doubt this year that the NFC East is football’s worst division.  Lacking any real contention power at the top, the division speaks mediocrity top to bottom.  In one sense it’s a “toss-up” in that no one team is good enough to seize control and front run. But there’s just enough ability spread around that no one at the bottom is likely to make a run at a top 3 pick.

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Why the Arizona Cardinals could beat the Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers are the best team in the NFC, right?  They’re undefeated, Cam Newton’s a great leader, their defense is tough…

But not so fast.

I’m not talking about the idiotic point spread on the Cowboys’ game (more on that below), I’m talking about the Arizona Cardinals, who might not be undefeated, but who would absolutely give Carolina a run for their money if they played, and for my money, would win that game.

The Cardinals’ Carson Palmer (who just got some long awaited revenge on his old team – remember how petty THAT dispute got?) is having a great season both leadership and stats wise (although Newton has been brilliant in leading his team to wins, his numbers, especially passing, are not all that stellar).

The Cardinals run the ball exceedingly well, just like the Panthers.  The Cardinals play tough defense, just like the Panthers.  And unlike the Panthers, the Cardinals roster is LOADED with playmakers like Chris Johnson, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald, while the Panthers have Cam, Cam and Cam some more.

So far, it’s been good enough, but the Cardinals have played a tougher schedule than Carolina and shown they are up to the challenge.  Let’s see how the Panthers answer the bell down the stretch, and whether they can match up with Arizona come playoff time.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

Charcandrick West, RB (KC):  When you think about how reliant the Chiefs’ offense has been on Jamaal Charles and now West in his absence, it’s amazing they blew out the Chargers this week.  West gained just 16 yards on 11 carries.  Awful.

This week’s catch of the day has to go to the Texans DeAndre Hopkins.  Matched up against Darrelle Revis, Hopkins had himself a big day, highlighted by a 61 yard bomb he hauled in after cleanly beating Revis downfield.  Good show!

Shocking Realization of the Week

The Chicago Bears played their entire game against the Broncos, a closely contested loss, without getting called for a single penalty.  In the super whistle happy NFL of today, I didn’t even think that was possible.

Who’s going to emerge and grab that second wildcard spot in the AFC?  The Steelers seem to have the inside track on the first one, and up until now, the second has been presumed to go to one of three teams:  the Jets, Bills or Raiders.  But the Jets and Raiders both lost yesterday, and the Bills have New England.  Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile, have won four in a row, have the best conference record of the 5-5s, and, most significantly, have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL.  Despite the loss of Jamaal Charles, don’t be shocked if it’s the Chiefs who snag that last playoff spot, and not either of those AFC East wannabes.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Teddy Bridgewater, QB (MIN):  If the Vikings are looking for a silver lining in this week’s loss to the Packers, it has to be the play of their young QB, who outdueled Aaron Rodgers, throwing for 296 yards and a touchdown, posting a passer rating of 100.7, and gaining 43 yards on the ground on 4 carries.  A full day, just not enough to notch a win.

I realize I’m celebrating my own personal Ryan Fitzpatrickpalooza, but for the third week in a row I feel compelled to feature him.  In the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss to Houston, Fitzpatrick ran a designed quarterback draw from the 6 yard line.  He got to the 1 ½, where he was met by a Texans’ safety.  Rather than slide, Fitpatrick put his head down and drilled the guy with his helmet, getting the extra yards he needed to score while his helmet flew off and landed on the ground.  It was the closest thing I’ve seen to Engine Joe Kapp (look it up, you won’t be sorry) in a while.  Fitzpatrick isn’t a great quarterback, but I’m sold that he is one hell of a football player.

 

Thanksgiving Picks:

Philadelphia (-1) @Detroit (5Dimes)

Holy crap, what a God-awful mess the Eagles are.  So how, how, HOW in the name of pilgrims and gravy are they favored on the road over a team that’s won two straight and was clearly better than their awful 1-7 start?  Hell if I know, but I do know that I’m not touching the Eagles as a favorite anytime soon.  And does anyone who knows thing 1 about football really care if Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez starts?  I know I don’t.  Give me the Lions.

Detroit Lions 20 Philadelphia Eagles 17

 

Carolina (pick ‘em) @Dallas (Westgate Superbook)

This game opened with Dallas giving points.  What a joke!  A Vegas oddsmaker who was asked about that line basically admitted there was no way Carolina shouldn’t be the favorite, but that “it was Dallas on Thanksgiving and Romos’ back.”  In other words, everyone is hot to bet on the Cowboys and now they think it’s a good idea because Tony Romo is back.  Don’t kid yourself.  The Cowboys are certainly loads better with Romo under center, but all they’ve done since he returned was beat an inconsistent Miami team.  That’s a far cry, honestly, from taking down the NFC’s only remaining undefeated squad.  That said, this is gonna be a GREAT game.  Don’t eat so much that you fall asleep and miss it!

Carolina Panthers 31 Dallas Cowboys 28

 

Carolina @Dallas o/u 45.5 (Westgate Superbook)

As I said, this is gonna be a great game, and although the Panthers are known for good defense, I think this game will be more of the high scoring variety, with the Panthers’ defense needing to make a big stop late, rather than being able to shut down Dallas all game.  As for stopping Cam Newton, no one’s been able to, and the Cowboys’ questionable stop unit won’t either, although it’s gonna be fun watching ex-Panther and Anger Management Poster Boy Greg Hardy try.  In the meantime, I like the over here.

Carolina Panthers 31 Dallas Cowboys 28

 

BEST PICK

Chicago (+8) @Green Bay (Bookmaker.eu)

I like the Packers enough to make them an early week Best Pick.  Aaron Rodgers brooke out of his slump last week in a big game the team needed.  It probably didn’t hurt, either, that it was a rivalry game.  All of the same criteria apply here.  The Packers probably can’t catch Carolina for home field throughout, but they need to put distance between themselves and Minnesota and they can still pass Arizona, who has a very tough schedule, to get the #2 seed and a first round bye.  Bears-Packers is the NFL’s oldest rivalry, and I feel compelled to point out that Jay Cutler has beaten the Pzckers once.  Ever.  You think THAT’s gonna change?   Happy Thanksgiving Cheeseheads!

Green Bay Packers 30 Chicago Bears 20

N-F-Yell

“Are you going to be a pro? Are you going to be a man? Are you going to come to work and do your job?!” – Chargers QB Philip Rivers, amid speculation that the team had quit during their 33-3 blowout loss to the Chiefs.

“The whole country is watching and we didn’t play well at all.  It seems like every time we get in these types of games, we don’t play well. So we have to learn from this.  We definitely need to fix this to take this team to the next level.” – Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn, lamenting his team’s inability to step up in a big game against the Packers.

“That was pretty hectic.  He gave me about 5 minutes to prepare.” – Broncos QB Brock Osweiler, relaying how coach Gary Kubiak told him he wanted him to address the team before his first start of the season against the Bears.

“Carson studies more and prepares more than any quarterback. We know that as long as we keep him upright, he’s going to do what he does.” – Cardinals C Lyle Sendlein, on QB Carson Palmer, the man he’s charged with protecting.

“I think we’re relevant again.” – Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith, on his team reaching 5-5 after beating the Eagles on Sunday.  The Bucs are a game out of a playoff spot with 6 to play.

“I’ll tell you this.  You know those kinds of moments, we don’t want a flag, we don’t, but that strikes confidence. Everybody on the sidelines sees it and the guys on the field, you know, it just gives you that extra boost of confidence, and I think that’s something that we needed.” – Cowboys WR Dez Bryant on a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty he and Terrance Williams drew for excessive celebration after a TD in the second quarter against the Dolphins.

“He’s the best receiver in the league, hands down, in my opinion.” – Texans OT Duane Brown, on breakout wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has put up numbers comparable to Julio Jones and Antonio Brown this season.

“That has been a great blessing to have Joe every single game for eight and a half years here.” – Ravens coach John Harbaugh, on QB Joe Flacco, who has never missed a start as Baltimore’s quarterback.  Flacco will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL injury.

 

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The best NFL quotes from Week 7

Be careful who you scapegoat.

I was scratching my head when Dallas benched backup QB Brandon Weeden in favor of recently signed Matt Cassel.  True, Weeden hadn’t won any games in relief of Tony Romo (unless you count finishing off the Eagles in the fourth quarter), but the losses hardly seemed to be Weeden’s fault.  In fact, he had played much better than I (or a lot of people, I suspect) would have guessed.

Enter Cassel, who put up worse numbers in a winnable matchup with the Giants than Weeden had put up in any previous start with the possible exception of the blowout loss to New England which, let’s face it, wasn’t going to be a win no matter who was under center.

Need more convincing?  Cassel threw more picks against the Giants (3) than Weeden has thrown all season.  This was the wrong solution to the Cowboys’ problem.

This Week’s Sucked And Won

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell:  Just call this guy “Hands of Stone” because LaFell was targeted eight times but caught only two passes Sunday against the New York Jets.  Additionally, despite only being “credited” with three drops, LaFell clearly should have caught at least seven of the eight balls thrown his way.

If you think the key to the Seahawks’ potential resurgence is the kind of tough defense that has characterized the team during their peak, then maybe Michael Bennett’s performance this week is a good start.  Bennett notched 3.5 sacks against the 49ers, leading Seattle’s defense to a suffocating performance that saw San Francisco held to just three points.

Shocking realization of the week

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill now owns the NFL record for consecutive completions at 25 (seven to end last week, 18 to start in their most recent game against Houston).

The jury of course is still out, but so far it looks as though both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are working out just fine as NFL quarterbacks.  Both have put up respectable numbers thus far.  The one problem, common to rookies of course, is turnovers.  Mariota has coughed it up 10 times in five games while Winston has turned it over nine times in six games.

Mariota is the more fumble-prone quarterback while Winston has thrown more picks.  Not to fear, as I’m sure you’ve heard many times, both Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning handed out interceptions like party favors as rookies yet both went on to have Hall of Fame careers.

This Week’s Great But Lost

Philadelphia Eagles CB Nolan Carroll II:  When did you think you’d ever see an Eagles defensive back getting props, but Carroll came to play Sunday night, leading his team in tackles and intercepting Cam Newton.

This week’s Catch of the Day came courtesy of the Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper, who took a five-yard out route to the house, hurdling a downed blocker and would be tackler and then capping off the 52 yard touchdown with an ankle breaking cutback.  Just one of many future highlights for this electrifying rookie wideout.

Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

Back In Silver & Black: Cooper embodies the old Raiders’ swagger

Thursday Pick:  Miami (+7.5) @New England (Westgate Superbook)

I know the Dolphins are hot right now and that I’ve been surfing the over-reach on Patriots’ lines for the last couple of games, but the last time Miami went to New England and was within single digits was 2011.  The last time the Dolphins won a game in New England was 2008.  That’s some pretty heavy trends to ignore.  Add in the trend that the better team in the Thursday night game tends to win more convincingly than usual and I am siding with New England on this one.

New England Patriots 28, Miami Dolphins 19

 

N-F-Yell: The Best nfl quotes for week 7

“Something ain’t right in San Francisco.”
-Former 49ers WR Kassim Osgood, offering the preceding tweet after San Francisco’s 20-3 loss to Seattle on Thursday.

“It was great to have all those fans out there supporting us.”
-Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, on the hordes of silver and black Oakland supporters in the stands in San Diego on Sunday.

“The offense won the game today.”
-Tampa Bay DT Gerald McCoy.  Tampa’s offense scored 30 points in the team’s 31-30 loss to Washington.

“It’s nerve wracking as a receiver because your quarterback is on the ground so much.  You keep getting hit like that, one of these times he’s not going to get up.”
-Lions WR Golden Tate, on Matt Stafford taking seven sacks against the Vikings.

“I hope people haven’t given up on me.”
-Browns backup QB Johnny Manziel, who finds himself once again in the crosshairs of the NFL disciplinary machine.

“I had to be him on the scout team and it works.  You wouldn’t think it works, but it works amazing.”
-Chiefs RB Charcandrick West, on copying the Steelers’ LeVeon Bell’s ultra-patient running style.

“It’s really bad football.”
-Colts QB Andrew Luck, on the variety of mistakes he and the Colts made in losing to the Saints.

“My ass should be walking back to New York.”
-Jets WR Brandon Marshall, who dropped a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Jets loss to the Patriots.

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Is the NFC East the unwinnable division?

For a while on Sunday, it seemed fairly easy. The New York Giants were rebounding after a tough less against the Dallas Cowboys, but they would right the ship. The Philadelphia Eagles were putrid, and even a close observer like me (as an Eagles fan, can there any more close observer?) who had said the team was overrated was quickly readjusting my expectations. “This team isn’t even good enough to go .500,” I said to myself.

But then it all fell apart.

For the second week in a row, the Giants blew a double digit lead, and set a record in the process. The Eagles went from putrid to… well, they’re still putrid. Dallas won a second straight divisional rivalry game to go 2-0, but Tony Romo was lost for 8-10 weeks due to an injury. That leaves a crippled Cowboys team without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, an Eagles team that is far worse than it was supposed to be at 0-2, an inexplicably hapless Giants team that is arguably better than it was supposed to be also at 0-2, and a Washington team that unexpectedly won a game.

Whatever, Washington still stinks.

But who exactly is going to win this division? Dallas is the class of it, but they will spend the majority of this season with the JV team out there. Can you win with an average defense, a great offensive line, and not much more? If not, can the Giants possibly not blow any more double-digit leads? If so, they might be the team to beat.

Philadelphia? Don’t even talk to me. Every offseason move I criticized has failed more miserably than I ever could have predicted. Listen, guys, I don’t want to be any more right about this team. Could you show up next week?

In the meantime, is anyone going to win the NFC East this year? My money is still on Dallas, maybe even more so when I consider how much better their defense is than I thought. Right now in the NFL, anyone can throw for a lot of yards. Hell, Johnny Manziel looked good this Sunday. Why can’t Brandon Weeden?

The key is being able to play competent defense and to run the ball enough to set up the rest of your offense. Right now, the Arizona Cardinals are probably doing that better than anyone but don’t count out teams like Atlanta or Dallas in the NFC. All of them are doing it without “elite” quarterbacks, although you have to question exactly how Matt Ryan and Tony Romo fall short of being “elite” except, oh that’s right — postseason success.

Just remember: You have to get there and be there to win there. I’m betting the Cowboys will be.

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NFL 2015 preview: Will Dallas stumble in the NFC East?

Predicted Finish

Dallas Cowboys (10-6) (3rd seed; Divisional Round)

NY Giants (9-7) (6th seed; Wildcard Round)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)

Washington RacialSlurs (5-11)

The NFC East is probably the most overrated division in football. The Dallas Cowboys are talked about as a legitimate Super Bowl contender (they’re really not), the Philadelphia Eagles are supposedly a playoff lock (not at all), and about the only team that’s acknowledged to be in hot water is Washington. How hard is it to handicap a team that benched its starting quarterback a week before the season starts?

Oh well.

Dallas will miss DeMarco Murray and his 1,800-yard seasons, but they still have a cadre of NFL-caliber backs running behind an elite offensive line, so the Cowboys’ rushing attack can be counted for consistent positive gains and significant yards per carry. That’s all Tony Romo will need to have a successful season throwing the ball. The issue, as always, for Dallas, is their defense, and while the addition of Greg Hardy and the return of Sean Lee will definitely help, the loss of Orlando Scandrick weakens a unit that is already the weakest link in a shaky defensive corps. Ultimately, it will be the Cowboys’ undoing.

Contrary to popular opinion, I think the Cowboys’ strongest challenge will come not from the Philadelphia Eagles, but the New York Giants, where Eli Manning has a receiving corps from another planet, and finally should have a running game to compliment it. The Giants offensive line remains a work in progress, but the biggest question marks are on the defensive side of the ball. (Heck, this is the case for the entire division.) The Giants will only go as far as their defense doesn’t give away.

As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I have to tell you I am sick to death of Chip Kelly and his bullshit. The Eagles added a hospital wing’s worth of injury prone players, led by quarterback Sam Bradford, who may not be all that great even if he stays healthy. Kelly, meanwhile, obtusely insists his “system” will keep his players healthy. His system is also supposed to be more important than talent on the field, and the players, to him, are just commodities. Good luck, Eagles, adding free agents in the coming years as long as Kelly’s around. Meanwhile, watch for the Eagles special teams to continue to be the best unit they put on the field.

Finally there’s the RacialSlurs of Washington. I have never seen an organization so ruin a promising talent like Robert Griffin III. I also haven’t seen a bigger fuss over a mediocre quarterback since Tebow-mania when it comes to the wildly overrated Kirk Cousins and his 2-7 record as a starter. This will be another wasted year in Washington. Dan Snyder should really sell the team, and not because of the name controversy or anything else, but just because he, like his team, sucks.

Come playoff time, I have Dallas knocking off the Giants in the NFC Wild Card before falling to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round the next week. Like I said, no one in the NFC East is ready to really challenge the top dogs.

Games to Watch:

Week 7 – Tampa Bay @ Washington: What’s so special about this game? It might be your last time to see the RacialSlurs actually win for a good month and a half afterwards.

Week 8 – Seattle @ Dallas: Last season, the game that made the world stand up and take notice that the Cowboys were for real was their defeat of the Seahawks. Seattle will be out for revenge. This one could be a pretty special game to watch.

Week 10 – New England @ New York Giants: I have a feeling the Patriots are going to be looking for some payback for those two Super Bowls. This game could be fun.

Week 17 – Philadelphia @ New York Giants: Is this game going to have the playoff implications the schedule makers obviously think it will? Let’s see.

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