Category Archives: Dallas Cowboys

NFL WEEK 11 PICKS

Obviously, the Jaguars beat the Titans on TNF.

Raiders (0) over LIONS –

The Oakland Raiders need this win more than anything.  They are tied with Kansas City in the AFC South, and they MUST win this game if they want to have a chance to make the playoffs.  Detroit is 4th in their division, so they aren’t really playing for anything, except the win.  While the game is in Detroit, the Raiders have more pressure to win the game, and more heart.  I believe the Oakland Raiders will win the game.

 FALCONS (-6) over Colts

This is a MUST win for both teams. The game is in Atlanta, so the Falcons will have home field advantage.  I had a hard time making this pick, however I do believe the Atlanta Falcons will come out with the win.  First off, Andrew Luck is not expected to play, which will make it much harder for the Colts to win.  Second, I just don’t see the Colts defense stopping the Atlanta offense.  It will be very hard to stop Devonta Freeman, who is playing at his best this year.

EAGLES (-7) over Bucs

This is also another MUST win for both teams if they want to have a shot at making the playoffs.  However, I am picking the Eagles to win this game.  While the Eagles have their issues which I’ll explain in a bit, I just don’t see a Jameis Winston led team being able to pull out the win.  Part of the issue is Tampa Bay’s defense which is not great at all.  The Eagles biggest issue is, Mark Sanchez.  There are obviously more factors, but last week the Eagles played a great first half, then Sam Bradford got hurt of course, and Mark Sanchez subbed in.  Then, in the fourth quarter, when you have to be clutch, Mark Sanchez could not finish the game.  I think this will be a very close game, but the Eagles will be able to pull out the win.  Mark Sanchez will throw at least one interception, and I think the reason why the Eagles will win this game is because of their running game, especially with DeMarco Murray in the backfield.

BEARS (0) over Broncos

With the Bears coming off a HUGE road win against the Rams last week, they will be ready to come out and battle the Broncos at home on Sunday.  It will be a lot harder for the Broncos to win without Peyton Manning, as Brock Osweiler will be the starting quarterback for the Broncos.  However, I am picking the Denver Broncos to win the football game.  Many may disagree, however, in my opinion, I think the Saint Louis Rams made some mistakes which caused the Bears to win the football game.  The Chicago Bears will lose this week to the Broncos as reality will set in.

Rams (+2.5) over RAVENS

This may be a difficult game to pick based on the stat sheet, but it is quite easy for me.  I am picking the Rams to win the game.  The Rams are 2nd in their division and need to come out with the win if they want to have a chance at making the playoffs.  As for the 2-7 Ravens, it would be a good win, but it wouldn’t do much as they have very little chance of making the playoffs.

DOLPHINS (0) over Cowboys

I think the Dallas Cowboys are not mentally tough enough to beat the Dolphins.  Each week the players are getting in fights with the media, firing snarky comments at their opponents, and they just lose.  They are currently on a seven game losing streak.  To make matters worse, they are playing on the road against the Miami Dolphins who are not consistent, but are a much better football team in my opinion.  This is an easy pick.  I pick the Miami Dolphins to win the game.

Redskins (+8.5) over PANTHERS

The Panthers will come out with the win this week.  They are the better football team overall, and Carolina is the home team.  Washington is 0-4 on the road so far this season, so I don’t think they can just come into Carolina and win.  I am picking the Carolina Panthers to win the game.

Chiefs (-3) over CHARGERS

While the Chargers are the home team in this game, I still believe the Chiefs will win.  This is a division game, so lots of things can happen, but the Chiefs NEED to win this game if they have any chance at making the playoffs.  I don’t think it will be a blowout, but Philip Rivers and the Chargers just are not playing well at all this year.  I am picking the Kansas City Chiefs to win this game.

VIKINGS  (0) over Packers

The Packers NEED to win this game, and so do the Vikings, but the Vikings are the home team, and Green Bay is 2-2 on the road this season.  Things in Green Bay just haven’t been clicking these last 3 games, and it is time for them to turn it around.  I think it will be a close game, but in the end Aaron Rodgers will have a great performance, and the Packers will get their much needed win.  This is a very hard pick to make, but in the end I am picking the Green Bay Packers to win the game.

49ers (+13.5) over SEAHAWKS

For this game, Seattle is the home team.  The 49ers are 0-4 on the road this season, and Century Link Field is a very hard stadium to play at.  I believe the Seahawks will pull off the win, especially because Colin Kaepernick has been placed on season ending IR, which will make it very tough for the 49ers.  Seattle’s defense will play a great game, and Seattle’s offense will put up just enough points to pull out the win.  However, it should be close.  I am picking the Seattle Seahawks to win the game.

Jets (-2.5) over TEXANS

While the Texans are the home team, and it will be tough for the Jets to win the game, but they will come through.  The Houston Texans just haven’t shown me enough this year.  They are pretty inconsistent to say the least.  And this isn’t the Rex Ryan coached Jets, this is the 2015 Jets, who have proven to be much better than last year’s squad.  I am picking the New York Jets to win the game.

Bengals (+5) over CARDINALS

This is going to be a tough game.  The Bengals lost to the Texans last week, and now they are going on the road to play the Cardinals.  While the Bengals are a great road team, I just don’t see their defense playing well.  Obviously Arizona has a great defense, with Patrick Peterson at the DB and Tyrann Mathieu at safety.  So, I think Cardinals’ defense will make it tough for the Bengals to score points, and it will be easier for the Cardinals to score on the Bengals defense.  I am picking the Arizona Cardinals to win the game.

PATRIOTS (-8.5) over Bills

Rex Ryan is all hyped up about that win over his former team, the New York Jets.  While the Bills did play a good game and got a good win, Rex Ryan gets all cocky when he wins games.  In week one, after Rex Ryan and the Bills got a good win against the Colts, he started talking smack about the Patriots and how he was going to beat them.  Once again, the Bills won the previous week and Rex Ryan is getting all cocky again.  Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots will shut him up, as they did week 2 on the road in Buffalo.  If that isn’t enough, the Patriots are also the home team.  I do think this will be a close game, but in the end, I am picking the New England Patriots to win the game.

 

 

Week 4 in Review: 4 things we learned

Week four is in the books, and it was nothing short of controversial and drama-filled. From missed field goals to referee mess ups, here are four things we learned from week four of the NFL regular season. Plus, it was week four, so four things? Get it? Nevermind then, let’s get to it.

1) Who you have at kicker matters, seriously 

Week four was a terrible week for kickers. And I’m putting that mildly. There were 18 combined misses between field goals and extra points. Kickers missed game-winning chip shots. Week four was just so disgusting, and it taught us that you really need a good kicker. Josh Scobee of the Pittsburgh Steelers missed two field goals. Jason Myers of the Jacksonville Jaguars missed two game winning field goals. Zach Hocker of the New Orleans Saints dinged a potential game winning field goal off the upright. Caleb Sturgis of the Philadelphia Eagles missed a field goal and an extra point in a three-point loss the the Washington Redskins. There are only a few 100% accurate kickers in the NFL right now, and that list includes Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots, Travis Coons of the Cleveland Browns, and Brandon McManus of the Denver Broncos. A good, accurate kicker is needed now in the NFL, and they’re the difference between a win, overtime, or a loss.

2) Drew Brees can still sling it.

Did Drew Brees really have a shoulder injury? On Sunday Night Football, Drew Brees carved up on the Dallas Cowboys defense as he went 33/41 for 359 yards an two touchdown passes. That second touchdown pass, was his 400th career touchdown pass, and it was the go-ahead touchdown to CJ Spiller to close the game in overtime. This game not only proved that his shoulder is fine, but he can still put up monster numbers.

3) The Cowboys are cursed with the injury bug.

 

Tony Romo is out. Dez Bryant is out. And so is practically half the roster for the Dallas Cowboys. On Sunday, the team lost linebacker Sean Lee and running back Lance Dunbar. This team has dealt with so many losses, that it’s a surprise they’re even 2-2. The team has played with so many bench and depth players, it’s like the movie, The Replacements. In all seriousness though, With all the current injuries that are stacked on this roster, this is a tough hole for the Cowboys to climb out of. With the NFC East in a three-way tie, the Cowboys need to get all the help they can get to even have a shot at the playoffs. And right now, help doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon.

4) The Refs need to open up their eyes

Seriously, referees really need to open up their eyes. I’m not kidding. Monday Night Football ended with a controversial no-call that was clear as day. How could they not see that KJ Wright illegally batted the ball to the back of the endzone? How could they not call that? Detroit should have rightfully had another chance to beat the Seahawks. The referees need to get it together quick if we’re going to like them, as if we’ve ever like them.

New England vs. Dallas: Patriots Defensive Line against Dallas Offensive Line

A big focus on this week’s game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys will be the Patriots defensive line vs. the Cowboys offensive line. Both are amongst the best in the league for their position groups and a key to victory for New England will be to beat the Cowboys offensive line consistently.

The Patriots defense currently ranks 5th in team sacks, behind the Broncos, Packers, Rams and Steelers who have all played one more game than New England. The Patriots are led by defensive ends Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard and linebacker Jamie Collins who make up 8.5 of the teams 13 sacks on the year. Though getting after Brandon Weeden wont be as crucial to the game as it would if Tony Romo was healthy and playing, you don’t want to give any quarterback time in the pocket to make plays and to allow his receivers to get open. The Cowboys had the leagues best offensive line last year headlined by left tackle Tyron Smith and rookie guard Zach Martin and still are the leagues most talented offensive line in the views of most people, despite being amongst one of the leagues most penalized offensive lines early in the season. With that being said, it is a good reason why the Patriots should bring the blitz at Weeden, get after him, and sack him, or be held and move them back and try making Weeden beat you, which lets face it he can’t do.

via cowboysblog.dallasnews.com
via cowboysblog.dallasnews.com

A key will be stopping the Cowboys running game. The Patriots have struggled this year defending the run, they improved vs. Jacksonville but that was in a blowout game where the Jaguars had to throw the ball because they were down by so many points. The Cowboys o-line and running backs are also a lot better than the Jaguars, though Joseph Randle has had fumbling problems as of late and Darren McFadden has looked like he has his whole NFL career, a bust. Travis Frederick and Zach Martin are strong interior blockers and could provide room for whoever is in Dallas’ backfield.

via twitter.com
via twitter.com

In a game that should be an easy win for the Patriots, especially coming off a bye, watching how the defensive line plays will be something of interest to see. The Cowboys offensive line is one of, if not the best in the league and seeing how the Patriots perform against them will be a good test to see if they are as good as they’ve looked so far, and a good test for the defense.

Injures Galore, Does Dallas Stand A Chance Against The Patriots?

On Sunday fans will eagerly pack into the AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas to witness a week five match up of epic proportions. Coach Jason Garrett’s Dallas Cowboys will welcome Coach Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots in what is sure to be an epic nail biter. Future Hall of fame Quarterback Tom Brady will need everything in his arsenal to take down Quarterback Brandon Weeden and the vaunted Dallas Cowboys offense. Wait….what?

at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 4, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

For those looking for a battle between highly touted gunslingers Tom Brady and Tony Romo on Sunday accompanied by an all star cast, might I suggest reviewing their match up from October 17th ,2011.  On October 11th, 2015 former Browns’ quarterback Brandon Weeden will be under center in a matchup which many feel has lost some of the shine which was promised when the NFL schedule was initially released. Brandon Weeden  had little success in Cleveland and is in no way an all star but will do his best to keep the game under control. Sadly for Dallas fans, Romo’s broken clavicle is not the only injury to disappoint those looking for a more heated match up. Cowboys’ star wide receiver Dez Bryant who injured his foot earlier in the season, has yet to return to the field, leaving Weeden  to throw to the likes of ester while receivers,  Lucky Whitehead and Devin Street.

In other areas of discontent, Dallas can’t rely on star running back Demarco Murray as they traded that particular Eagles free agency disappointment months ago.  Running back Lance Dunbar could have been a formidable option to run a tear through what is seemingly a Patriot’s defensive line that has trouble stopping runs, but sadly he went down with a knee injury. The offensive line has not looked as good as it had during last season either but let’s be fair it isn’t solely to blame for Dallas’ recent poor play, although it surely hasn’t helped. One apparent bright spot on the offense for Dallas however, is that all-pro Tight End Jason Witten seems to be in top form this season and will require some efficient game planning to upend.

On the other side of the ball, the Cowboy’s defense looked awfully weak during their encounter with the New Orleans Saints. In yet another unfortunate injury, linebacker Sean Lee was forced out of the game during the first half with a concussion. If Lee is unable to play on Sunday it will be an exceptional loss as he was currently the Cowboys leading tackler. On the bright side, two suspended players should be making their return to the NFL, and their presence should be able to beef up the defense a bit. Defensive End Greg Hardy will be making his debut for Dallas after serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Hardy, who last played for the Carolina Panthers, originally had a 10 game suspension for knocking around his girlfriend and slamming her on to a bed full of semi automatic weapons, but the NFL dropped his suspension to four games in an appeal. Linebacker Rolondo McClain will be returning from a four game substance abuse suspension and like Hardy is expected to make an immediate impact lifting this defense up and making them a force to be reckoned with.

jerry-jones

Perhaps the largest case of unfortunate situations to ravage Dallas is the fact that Tom Brady is not suspended and will in fact be playing. Dallas owner Jerry Jones was one of a handful of influential owners pushing Roger Goodell to uphold Tom Brady’s suspension for being generally aware of footballs being deflated during last year’s Deflategate debacle.  The fact that Jerry Jones pushed for Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft to be a man and accept his ridiculous and overblown punishment for the “good of the NFL”, will not be lost on the New England Patriots or their fabled Bulletin Board.

Tom Brady, with the help of offensive juggernauts such as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and rising star Dion Lewis have been on an absolute mean streak as of late destroying their first three opposing teams in epic fashion .On paper, Dallas looks to have very little that can put a stop to the New England Patriots and their “Scorched Earth Tour”. Don’t throw a “W” in the win column just yet, if the NFL has taught us anything over the years it’s that players facing the most adversity often rise to the occasion. Sunday may just prove to be one of those odd occasions where David beats Goliath.

NFL: Week 4 Picks

Last night the Ravens finally got off the hook, beating the Steelers in overtime 23-20, and more importantly covering the three point spread. That game wasn’t really about the Ravens. Let’s admit it, they’re not a good team. They finally were able to run the ball in the fourth quarter, but their offensive line is terrible, and their only reliable receiver is Steve Smith, who’s health is now something to watch. And above all, they’re 1-3.

The important thing from last night’s game was this: the Steelers NEED Big Ben back as soon as possible. Michael Vick is a nice story. I really like how he came back from his jail stint and really rehabilitated himself as a person. But he’s not the same guy he was five years ago. Last night he seemed very indecisive, held onto the ball too long, got sacked a lot, and missed a lot of throws. The consensus report is that Roethlisberger will miss six weeks. That means that counting last night, he will miss at San Diego, Arizona, at Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Oakland. If they win two of those games they’ll be doing good, and that would put them at 4-5. Who knows how far behind the Bengals that puts them. And even if they get Big Ben back with a 4-5 or 5-4 record, they’ll still have games remaining at Seattle, Cincy, and Baltimore, along with home games against the Broncos and Colts. All winable games, but loseable also. I think 9-7 is a realistic goal for the Steelers this year, assuming Big Ben doesn’t come back for another five weeks, and that’s too bad, because I think this is a really good team. 9-7 won’t win that division, and may not get a wild card. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m wrong a lot. I was wrong seven times last week, let’s take a look at this week. Home teams are in all caps.

Jets (-1.5) over DOLPHINS

This game isn’t actually in Miami, it’s in London. Maybe more Dolphins fans will show up. The Dolphins are definitely the biggest disappointment through three weeks. A lot of people, myself included, liked them as a possible playoff team. Shame on us for not knowing they quit on Joe Philbin in August. It wouldn’t surprise me if he “accidentally” get’s the wrong flight information on the way home and they just leave him in London. That would probably be the best way the Dolphins have handled a situation since the way they handled their offensive line in 2013. Moving on…

Jaguars (+9.5) over COLTS

Andrew Luck has to carry this Colts team, and now he’s “legitimately questionable” for this game. That sounds like BS, he’s going to play, but a compromised Luck means a compromised Colts. And the Colts aren’t very good to begin with. The days of them running through this division might be over. I think they’ll still go 5-1 or even 6-0 in division, but they’re not all going to be blowouts like the last few years. I’ll take the Jaguars getting that many points.

Giants (+5) over BILLS

Buffalo is for real, but the Giants getting five points coming off of a long week sounds good to me. The Bills had a big win last week, so Rex Ryan will again have them think they’re winning the Super Bowl. But make no mistake about it, the Bills are for real. Their defensive personnel is scary good. And Tyrod Taylor is a perfect fit for them. They don’t need him to go carry the team. They just need him to manage the game, not turn the ball over, and occasionally make some plays. Is Taylor the last quarterback to sit and learn for a few years and then step in and play instead of getting thrown into the fire as a rookie? That’s kind of a lost art, but he’s got a big arm and is very mobile. He might be good. But Buffalo is due for a let down, and the Giants are flying under the radar. Their offense is legit and keeps getting better each week. I’ll take the points in a close game.

BUCCANEERS (+3) over Panthers

Carolina is a pretty weak 3-0 team. I think the Bucs are going to be ok. Jameis Winston doesn’t look overwhelmed, and he’s getting more comfortable with Mike Evans. A lot of people are jumping on the Panthers because they’re 3-0. The teams they’ve beaten are a combined 2-7 and they’ve won by an average of about 7.5 points. That’s not great. I’ll take the Bucs getting points at home.

Eagles (-3) over REDSKINS

The Eagles seemed to solve a lot of their running game issues last week. Now they need to get DeMarco Murray going this week. I don’t think that’ll be much of an issue, he’s a special talent. An improved running game will help out Sam Bradford, who really needs to build confidence right now. And something vastly overlooked with this Eagles team is how good their defense is. They should feast on a turnover-prone Kirk Cousins.

Raiders (-3) over BEARS

Call me crazy, but I think the Raiders might have the best chance to dethrone the Broncos in the AFC West. Seriously, which quarterback has played the best in the division thus far? You could make a real argument for Derek Carr. He continues to develop a great connection with Amari Cooper, and they have one of the best young pass rushers in the league in Khalil Mack. Plus they play a last-place schedule, and the Bears are a grease fire. I think the Raiders should win this one easy.

FALCONS (-6.5) over Texans

I’m a little nervous considering the Falcons gave up 28 points to Brandon Weeden last week, but they did figure it out in the 2nd half. Devonta Freeman ran wild, and while the Texans have a much better run defense than the Cowboys, the Falcons have a very balanced offense. Kyle Shannahan has been very good as their offensive coordinator. He keeps finding ways to get Julio Jones open, and that guy might be the best receiver in the NFL. Also this team is very well coached, and their defense has improved. Plus the Texans have scored 20 points, 17, and 19 respectively so far this year. That’s not going to cover against Atlanta. I’ll swallow the points here.

Chiefs (+4) over BENGALS

Beware the Monday night loser. Everyone saw the Chiefs get embarrassed in Lambeau, and teams that get embarrassed on a national stage usually play well the following week. And seriously, how long can Andy Dalton go before he just has one of those bad Andy Dalton games where he throws like four interceptions? I’ll take the points.

CHARGERS (-7) over Browns

San Diego has not looked good at all this year. Their only win was against an even more unimpressive Lions team, and they still needed a big comeback to win that one. All that being said, I look for them to have a big game this week at home against the Browns, a team that’s not very good and has to fly out west. The Browns locker room is slowly starting to divide, because believe it or not they once again mishandled a big decision and benched Johnny Manziel despite playing well in Josh McCown’s absence. Cleveland, as always, is a dumpster fire.

49ers (+9) over PACKERS

The Packers are on a short week and have to make a west coast flight. The 49ers were embarrassed last week, and like I said before, teams that were embarrassed the week before usually play well the following week. Everyone’s beginning to realize how much Jim Harbaugh elevated Colin Kaepernick, but he should play better this week. The Packers don’t have as opportunistic of a defense as Arizona. Their run defense has been excellent so far this year, however, but it’ll be interesting to see how the 49ers run game which goes around the edges a lot more fairs against it. I’ll take the points in this one.

CARDINALS (-7) over Rams

Everyone overreacted to the Rams after Week 1, and now we’re seeing what they really are. They scored six points against the Steelers last week. Six. That’s like a high school game. And the Steelers don’t even have a great defense. Arizona’s aggressive defense should eat up Nick Foles, and Carson Palmer is playing as well as any quarterback in the league not named Rodgers or Brady. I’ll take the home team in this one.

Vikings (+7) over BRONCOS

Denver is the weakest 3-0 team in the league. Their defense is legit, but defense doesn’t win in this league anymore. The reason they didn’t put Peyton in the shotgun/pistol to begin the year is because they know that’s not going to win in November, December, and January, but they found out quickly that they can’t do what they need to do to win in cold weather. The Vikings are also looking very good. Throw out Week 1, because that late Monday night game to open the season is typically a terrible representation of how good teams are. Just look at how the Vikings and 49ers have faired since. I love Minnesota getting this many points.

SAINTS (Even) over Cowboys

Luke McCown vs. Brandon Weeden on Sunday Night Football. I can’t wait. Actually it looks like Brees will at least try to play, but in all honesty it doesn’t make much of a difference. The Saints are a rebuilding team, and the difference between 2015 Drew Brees and 2015 Luke McCown isn’t as much as you might think. The Cowboys defense is atrocious, shame on whoever said they’d carry the team without Romo. That being said, this is one of the most winnable games Dallas has without Romo, but I’ll take the Saints at home.

SEAHAWKS (-9.5) over Lions

There’s a lot of question marks with this Seahawks team, but don’t bet against Seattle at home in a primetime game. Detroit has been a major disappointment this year. Their offensive line has been crap, and it’s unclear whether or not Calvin Johnson just isn’t what he once was or if they’re just not using him the right way. Jim Caldwell might be Joe Philbin’s biggest competitor for the first-coach-fired-competition. Seattle honestly didn’t look that great against the Bears, but of course still won 26-0 because it was the Bears. I see them improving a little with Kam Chancellor having another week of practice under his belt. I’ll swallow the points and take the 12th man on Monday night.

For college football fans or just degenerate gamblers who will bet on anything, I’m in a weekly college football pick ’em. Here’s my picks for this week: Air Force (+5.5), Michigan State (-21.5), Northwestern (-4), Arizona State (+13.5), Michigan (-16), Georgia, South Carolina, and Notre Dame straight up.

NFL Record Last Week: 9-7-0

NFL Record Overall: 26-23-2

College Football Record Last Week: 7-1-0

College Football Record Overall: 14-10-0

Week 3 NFL review: 5 things we learned

Week three is in the books and has brought its share of surprises. There were more major injuries, and somehow backup quarterbacks put up some pretty good numbers. Let’s review week three with five things we learned from last week’s games

1) Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been amazing

Who knew that two aged veterans would still be able to put up huge numbers? This week Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald continued to put up video game numbers as the Arizona Cardinals pounded the San Francisco 49ers 47-7. Palmer went 20/32 for 311 yards and two touchdown passes. Through three weeks Palmer has thrown for 803 yards, nine touchdowns to only two interceptions. Fitzgerald had nine catches for 134 yards. It was his second straight game where he had more than 100 yards receiving. To put that in perspective, Fitzgerald had only two games where he past 100 yards receiving last season.  With the Cardinals standing at 3-0, Palmer and Fitzgerald are lights out in the twilight of their careers.

2) San Francisco and Kaepernick need major fixes

On the other hand, the San Francisco 49ers were on the receiving end of the 47-7 blowout against the Cardinals. Kaepernick was horrendous. Kaepernick went 9/19 for 67 yards. He threw for no touchdowns, but threw four interceptions. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Those two pick-6s happened in six minutes into the first quarter. The only bright spot of Kaepernick’s performance was a 12-yard touchdown run. There needs to be some change in San Francisco. No, I’m not saying that the 49ers should start Gabbert, because that is even worse, but the 49ers and Kaepernick need to find ways to improve. Kaepernick’s play through the first three games have been largely inconsistent. In their week one victory, Kaepernick went 17/26 for a dismal 165 yards and no touchdowns. Then in a week two blowout loss, He went 33/46 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Then this trash performance happened. Whatever happened to the Kaepernick that took the league by storm during San Francisco’s Super Bowl run in 2012? The 49ers and Kaepernick need to find away to get back to that, or else it is going to be a long season.

3) The Oakland Raiders are proving they’re  legit

Who knew we would be saying this, but the Oakland Raiders are winning and competitive? Weird, I know. After being blown out 33-13 to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders have turned around, all thanks to Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. With them lighting up on offense, the Raiders have pulled victories over the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Carr has thrown for 726 yards and five touchdowns on the season, and Amari Cooper leads the team with 290 yards receiving. Latavius Murray has provided additional help with 248 yards on the ground. On the defensive side of things, they’ve provided clutch stops. Standing at 2-1 and their great play, the Raiders look like they can compete for a playoff spot in the AFC. And no, I’m not kidding.

4) Who your backup quarterback is matters

Week three had teams start notable backups in place of their starting quarterbacks due to injury. With Tony Romo out for 8 weeks, the Dallas Cowboys started Brandon Weeden in a 39-28 loss where the Cowboys blew the lead in the 2nd half. Yes, Weeden went 22/26 for 232 yards, but don’t let the numbers fool you.  Almost all of Weeden’s passes were short or dumpoffs, and very few if any deep balls. Weeden threw an interception when he was flushed out of the pocket trying to throw downfield. Weeden did not throw a touchdown as the Cowboys run game led by Joseph Randle carried the offense. But the run game is not enough to win the game, especially since your franchise quarterback and best wide receiver are out for extended periods of time. Weeden is 5-17 as a starter, something that should trouble the Cowboys. Going to the southeast, The New Orleans Saints started Luke McCown in place of an injured Drew Brees in a 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers.  Again, don’t be fooled by the 31/38 for 310 yards statline. Many of those passes were short, even if he averaged 8.2 yards a pass. And like Weeden, choked the game away by throwing an interception. McCown is also 2-8 as a starter, a stat that should worry the Saints if Brees is out longer than we think. Up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers must deal with losing Ben Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks due to a sprained MCL and bruised bone, and must start Michael Vick, who seems to be way past his prime. Like it or not, backup quarterbacks matter in the NFL, and you’re fortunate if you have a good one. By the way, we could be looking at a Weeden versus McCown matchup on Sunday Night Football, great.

5) The new extra point rule is truly affecting games

This year, the NFL changed the rules to make extra points be kicked from the 15 yard line to make them an impact on the game. This rule change has made it’s impact and has affected the outcome of games. Before, extra points were automatic, with only 8 being missed throughout the whole 2014 season. This season, through only three games, we’ve past that number at 14. This affects games as what should have been a one possession game, has become a two possession game because of a missed extra point. Instead of going for the “automatic” choice of the extra point, more teams are leaning towards the closer two point conversions. But those are not automatic either. Because of this rule change, what a team does after scoring a touchdown has become more intriguing.

Week 3 Picks

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 21:  at Heinz Field on December 21, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

We are through two weeks of the NFL season.Normally I would reflect on Week 2 right here, but honestly, it was not a great NFL weekend. It was an awesome college football weekend though. From Nebraska/Miami to Stanford/USC to Ole Miss/Alabama, it was an awesome day, and Sunday couldn’t help but being a little bit of a let down. Then of course, the Cowboys and Eagles played perhaps the worst football game in 30 years. Seriously, it was awful. It was unwatchable. But apparently everybody kept watching the Brandon Weeden/Sam Bradford showdown, because it got a 19 rating. There’s the power of the NFL right there.

Anyways, the 2-0 Cowboys are without Romo and Dez, the Eagles are 0-2 and look like they have a lot of kinks to work out, the Redskins are the Redskins, and now the 1-2 Giants are sitting pretty. I had the Giants (-3) last night, I thought there was no way they would start 0-3. This is a good team, don’t kid yourself. Eli still hasn’t thrown an interception, his completion percentage is close to 65%, Odell Beckham is one of the best receivers in football, Larry Donnell is turning into a good weapon at tight end, and their running backs are very diverse and dynamic, while their defense continues to make plays despite all the injuries to their pass rush. And of course the Redskins are the Redskins. Let’s dive into this week. Home teams are in caps.

Falcons (-1) over COWBOYS

I’m a little surprised the Cowboys are only getting a point without Romo. Even at home. Seriously, without Tony Romo their toast. He had to carry the franchise for three years until last year. Now they have no Romo, no Dez, and no DeMarco Murray. As good as their offensive line is, that can only get you so far. Of course, according to Jerry Jones, “This quarterback Weeden can drive the ball down the field. He’s a thing of beauty on throwing the football. His passing motion and his arm, frankly, you won’t see a more gifted passer.” Ten minutes later he traded for Matt Cassel. If I can disagree with Jerry just for a second, I’m going to go out and say Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, and Peyton Manning are more gifted passers than Brandon Weeden, and there’s a lot of guys that I left out, but hey, that’s just one man’s opinion, and I’m not the GM of a professional football team.

Colts (-3) over TITANS

Don’t write the Colts off. Forget that sentence, don’t write Andrew Luck off. They’ve done a terrible job building this team. They keep drafting wide receivers even though they have one of the worst offensive lines in football, no running game, no pass rush, terrible safeties and bad linebackers. But hey, let’s go ahead and draft Philip Dorsett in the first round to be our fourth receiver. But their still going to be fine. Andrew Luck has carried the franchise his whole career, why shouldn’t he be able to now? No Luck hasn’t played particularly well, but don’t try and blame their 0-2 start on him. He’s a special talent, don’t try and over-criticize just because he’s the quarterback. They’ll still run through this division, and that starts this week with the Titans.

Raiders (+3.5) over BROWNS

I told you the Raiders would be ok this year, they just waited until last week to start being ok. Amari Cooper is going to be a star, maybe as early as this year. And of course, whenever the Browns are giving points, you bet against them. Seriously, why would the Browns ever lay points against another NFL team? Yes the Raiders are an NFL team, I think. Let’s move on before I change my mind.

RAVENS (-2.5) over Bengals

There’s a chance the Ravens just aren’t very good this year, but I’m not going to give up just yet. The Bengals have clearly been the better team through two weeks, but I’ll take Flacco over Andy Dalton in their home opener for now. Check back with me in a week. If the Ravens are still bad, I’ll jump ship.

PATRIOTS (-13.5) over Jaguars

I don’t expect the Patriots to play soft coverage and put zero pressure on the quarterback the way the Dolphins did against the Jaguars last week, so I think they’ll win. Seriously, the Dolphins had such a terrible defensive scheme last week they made Blake Bortles look like an NFL quarterback. He had time, he was comfortable, and he could make throws. That won’t be the case this week. And Tom Brady is playing the best football of his career, and he’s 38 YEARS OLD! His F-U tour continues and I have no problems laying 13.5 points. Go look at their schedule. I know it’s early, but it’s not inconceivable to see them going 16-0. Let’s move on before I say something stupid and arrogant. I already did? Let’s move on anyway.

PANTHERS (-3) over Saints

The Panthers coming off a good win against a Saints team that doesn’t want to admit their rebuilding with Drew Brees’ status uncertain only giving three points? Ok. I’ll take it. And by the way, even a healthy Drew Brees isn’t what he was three years ago. This Saints team is a long ways from the one that went to the Super Bowl and was making playoff runs every year. I’ll take the Panthers.

Eagles (+2) over JETS

I’m going to keep backing the Eagles. If by Week 6 this offense is still this terrible, I’ll admit I was wrong. The Jets are a nice team. Todd Bowles will be a good coach. But this 2-0 start doesn’t mean he’s going to win the Super Bowl in his first year. Calm down a little bit. Just let Ryan Fitzpatrick be Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Eagles running problems are correctable. Remember how bad the Patriots offensive line was the first four games last year? The Eagles can fix that. Bradford needs a running game to depend on, because right now he has no confidence, and he’s extremely gun shy. I’ll take the Eagles getting points.

Buccaneers (+6.5) over TEXANS

How can the Texans seriously be laying 6.5 points? They have no offense. I watched a good portion of their game against the Panthers last week. Seriously, that was almost as unwatchable as the Eagles-Cowboys game. They can’t run the ball, and they can’t throw the ball. They can catch the ball a little bit, but that doesn’t really matter if you can’t throw it. The Bucs looked good last week, and that was without Mike Evans being much of a factor. I’ll take Tampa in this one.

San Diego (+2.5) over VIKINGS

This feels like a toss up to me, so I’ll go ahead and take the team getting points. But I’m not confident in this pick at all. The Vikings are a decent team, but don’t overreact to last week. The Monday night loser is always a great pick the next week. The Chargers are traveling for a second straight week, but I’ll still take them getting points.

Steelers (-1) over RAMS

Don’t sleep on the Steelers. This is a very good team. When the Patriots are rolling everyone halfway through the season, that opening game will look competitive. Mike Tomlin is also ahead of the curve going for 2 every time. It’s kind of like the three point shot in basketball. Think about it, if you convert more than 50% of your two-point conversions, then you score more points than you would’ve hitting all of your extra points. And with an offense like the Steelers that has Big Ben, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and getting Le’Veon Bell back this week, they could really score a lot of points this year.

CARDINALS (-6.5) over 49ers

The San Francisco team you saw last week in Pittsburgh is a lot closer to what they really are than the San Francisco team you saw in Week 1. This is a severe coaching mismatch. Colin Kaepernick is still a below-average passer, and an opportunistic Cardinal’s defense should pounce on that. Also, Carson Palmer is 15-2 in his last 17 starts. Give me the Cards at home.

DOLPHINS (-2.5) over Bills

This is a tough one to pick, but the Dolphins have to turn it around, right? Rex Ryan hasn’t changed at all. Good defense, talks too much, clueless offensively. Coming home, with their backs sort of against the wall, I think the Dolphins come out and play inspired football. And don’t kid yourself, Tyrod Taylor isn’t winning games for you.

SEAHAWKS (-14.5) over Bears

Who thought a 13.5 point New England spread wouldn’t be the biggest of the week? Kam Chancellor is back. Jimmy Clausen is starting for the Bears. The Chicago defense is still awful. Seattle played well last week in Green Bay. But right now they’re 0-2 and need to win this week. I expect them to play inspired football at home where they are very good, and I seriously don’t expect Jimmy Clausen to cover a 20 point spread, let alone 14.5.

LIONS (+3) over Broncos

I’m throwing away my rule to pick the Broncos every game for the first eight games and pick against them the last eight. Peyton’s done, everyone can see it. He can put some good drives together, but he can’t play a whole game. He’s wildly inaccurate, especially on deep throws, and he’s been sacked seven times already. The Broncos have an excellent defense, but I like how the Lions tall receivers match up with them. Also, Detroit is getting points at home in a primetime game. I love the Lions in this one.

Chiefs (+7) over PACKERS

I think the Chiefs might win this game straight up. They’re coming off a long week, and scored 24 points against that Denver defense while turning it over 5 times. They’ll fix that, and I expect them to come out playing motivated and the Packers may have a little bit of a hangover after a big win over Seattle last week. Give me the Chiefs in a Monday night upset.

For college football fans or just degenerate gamblers who will bet on anything, I’m in a weekly college football pick ’em. Here’s my picks for this week: Vanderbilt (+24.5), Iowa (-25), Texas Tech (+7), Utah (+11), USC (-5), New Mexico, Tennessee, and Oklahoma State straight up.

NFL Record Last Week: 7-9-0

NFL Record Overall: 17-16-1

College Football Record Last Week: 2-6-0

College Football Record Overall: 7-9-0

2015 NFL Season: Week 2 Picks

We are now out of the least meaningful week in the NFL season. Hurray! I went 9-6-1 against the spread last week, and admittedly botched a couple games badly. My biggest advice to you is this: don’t be that guy that overreacts to Week 1. Remember, the Patriots, Packers, Colts, Cowboys, and Ravens all lost in Week 1 last year, and all five of those teams made the playoffs. There are a few things I was very wrong on though, and I will go into those. Let’s start with last night.

Last week I wrote to pick the Broncos in every game the first half of the season and pick against them in every game the second half of the season. I went against my own rule last night, picking the Chiefs (-3), and of course got burned. But I stand by that pick. Look, everybody is going to make all the excuses they possibly can for Peyton Manning. I applaud Jim Nantz and Phil Simms for figuring out a way to blame everything possible for Peyton Manning’s struggles besides Peyton Manning. It’s his new offense, it’s the offensive line, it’s the play calling, it’s the blitzes by the Chiefs, blah, blah, blah. I love Peyton, I think he’s a great dude and a top 3 quarterback of all time. But it’s done. He can’t put a whole game together right now, let alone a whole season. Yes, give him credit for getting through that game last night. But let’s be honest, he had two good drives. When his first read was open, and he got rid of the ball in two seconds or less, he was fine. He looked a little bit like the old Peyton. But if the pass rush was able to even get close to him, he missed the throw, usually badly. Sometimes he had time, and still floated a throw five yards away from his receiver. His arm has never been great, now it’s below average.

Give credit to an incredible Bronco defense, and say thank you to the Chiefs for playing so terribly. It’s not just that they had five turnovers, it’s that every one of those turnovers seemed to come at the worst time. Jamaal Charles fumbled inside the ten, costing them a field goal. Alex Smith’s first interception pretty much gave Denver a touchdown. His second interception came when they were driving down the field. And then of course there was the Charles fumble returned for the winning touchdown with under a minute left. The only non-costly turnover was the fumbled punt, which gave the Broncos the ball around the 30, and they missed a 4th and 1 instead of kicking a field goal. I’m going to hurt my head if I keep writing about this, so let’s just go to this week’s picks. Home teams are in all caps.

Houston (+3) over PANTHERS

The Panthers won last week because they played the Jaguars. The Jaguars scored nine points, because that’s what they do. The Texans certainly have some huge quarterback issues right now, and I think eventually they’ll settle on the more talented Ryan Mallett. They need to get that quarterback situation figured out, because J.J. Watt looks a little less terrifying when he’s down by 20 points. The Panthers offense struggled last week, they will again against a great Texans defense. This one’s easy.

STEELERS (-6) over 49ers

Can there be a less impressive 20-3 win than what the 49ers had late Monday night? I’ll be honest, that second Monday night game on opening weekend is always one of the worst games of the year. The Vikings offense was horrible, and San Francisco couldn’t move the ball consistently. I still think the Steelers are going to be really good. They didn’t play well against the Patriots, but a lot of people don’t. Big Ben still won’t have Bryant or Bell this week, but he’ll have a lot more success against the 49ers than Teddy Bridgewater did. Don’t forget, Pittsburgh moved the ball pretty well between the 20s in New England, they just couldn’t finish drives. They will this week.

Buccaneers (+10) over SAINTS

I know Jameis Winston and his offense looked terrible last week, and the Tampa defense gave up 4 touchdowns to Mariota in his first career game, but a 10 point spread is too much for me in an NFL game. The Bucs should get Mike Evans back this week, and that’s huge for a rookie quarterback. The Saints will move the ball well, but they weren’t great against the Cardinals, and I don’t expect them to cover.

Lions (+2.5) over VIKINGS

Forget everything I said about the Vikings last week. They still have a lot to improve on. Carlos Hyde ran all over them. Bridgewater was horrible against what was essentially a brand new defense. They couldn’t move the ball at all. The Lions had a pretty big collapse in San Diego, look for them to be motivated playing a Vikings team on a short week and I expect them to win rather handily.

Cardinals (-2) over BEARS

I’m really only giving the Bears two points in this game? Ok. The Packers beat them by eight and they didn’t play well. Arizona always flies under the radar, and if their spreads are going to be this low all year, keep betting on them. Other than a running game, they have all the pieces. Give me the Cardinals going away in this one.

Patriots (-1) over BILLS

Do not, I repeat, do not overreact to week 1 from the Bills. Remember, Tyrod Taylor is their quarterback. I repeat, Tyrod Taylor is their quarterback. Now, give them some credit. They probably have the best defensive personnel in the NFL, and now they have one of the best defensive coaches in the league. But seriously, Tyrod Taylor is their quarterback. It’ll be interesting to see what Rex comes up with to cover Gronk, that’ll be the big difference between the Pats and Colts. Also, Rex probably has them thinking they’re going to win the Super Bowl after one week, so they’ll be in for a let down. Once again, don’t be that guy that overreacts to week 1.

Chargers (+3) over BENGALS

I feel a little weird picking all of these road teams, but I’m not going to put a ton of stock into what the Bengals did last week. The Chargers were impressive in their comeback last week. Like I said, I’m expecting Philip Rivers to have a big year, he’s extremely motivated after all the rumors that swirled around him this offseason. Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon are rising stars. Give me San Diego in this one.

BROWNS (+1) over Titans

Mariota is definitely due for a letdown this week. After being that good in his debut, he can only go down from here. Give him a full season, maybe two or three before we crown him as the savior. Yes, I’m picking the Browns this week. What am I doing? I’ll take the home team getting points, yes, even if it’s the Browns.

GIANTS (-2.5) over Falcons

Despite how horribly they botched the 1st and goal from the one last Sunday, I think the Giants showed some good things. That defense can be good, they have a very good tandem of corners in DRC and Prince Amukamara. The Falcons were good, but they still were a missed field goal from blowing that game. I’ll take the Giants at home with Atlanta coming off a short week.

Rams (-3.5) over REDSKINS

I’m pretty nervous with this one, it seems way too obvious. I feel like a lot of people are going to jump on the Ram’s bandwagon after last week, and I don’t feel good about putting a lot of faith in Nick Foles. But the Redskins are not good. a 17-10 home loss was impressive for them. Their quarterback situation is a mess, the RG3 soap opera is still hanging around them, and I don’t think Jay Gruden is going to be a very good coach. I’ll take the Rams to cover, but expect it to be low scoring.

Dolphins (-6) over JAGUARS

I might end up picking against the Jaguars every game this year. Seriously, what is there to like? Blake Bortles is not good. Julius Thomas is already wasting away in this offense. There’s no offensive line or running game to speak of. The defense is nothing special. What am I supposed to like? The Dolphins should bounce back after struggling with the Redskins. And might I point out that despite struggling, they still covered. They’ll cover easily in this one.

RAIDERS (+6.5) over Ravens

I’m crazy for picking this, but I’m not going to jump ship on the Raiders after one week. The Ravens offensive line is horrible right now. I know they were facing a terrific pass rush in Denver, and an underrated defensive tackle in Malik Jackson, but they couldn’t run the ball to save their lives. The only time they moved the ball down field at all was their final drive running the two-minute drill. The Raiders will be ok. They still have a ways to go, but give them some time before you say they are as bad as they usually are. I’ll give them this one at home with the Ravens making the cross-country flight.

EAGLES (-5) over Cowboys

This line is a little big for me, but I really like the Eagles in this one. Their offense will be explosive. I think after reviewing the film Chip Kelly will realize he needs to run the ball more, and they’ll do really well with that. Sam Bradford found his groove in the 2nd half and looked really good when he did. Their secondary looked bad, but should gain some confidence against a depleted Dallas receiving core. As much as I love the Cowboy’s offensive line, their running game was not good last Sunday. I’ll take the Eagles to cover at home here.

PACKERS (-3.5) over Seahawks

This is a tough one to pick, but Green Bay is playing really well right now. The Seahawks’ offensive line didn’t look very good against St. Louis. Russell Wilson had no time to let deep routes develop. The absence of Kam Chancellor matters, don’t kid yourself. Aaron Rodgers walked right into Seattle in the NFC Championship last year and should’ve beat them on one leg. I’ll take the Packers right now in Lambeau.

COLTS (-7) over Jets

Yes the Jets were good on Sunday, but yes it was against the Browns. This Colts offense should get right back on track. Remember, they were playing at Buffalo, against the best defense in the league. That’s right Seattle, the Bills are the best defense in the league, at the moment. I expect Andrew Luck to get back on track, and I don’t see any reason the Jets should score enough points to cover.

If you’re a college football fan or just a degenerate gambler who will bet on anything, I’m in a weekly college football pick ’em. My picks for this week are: Louisiana Tech (+9), Ole Miss (+6.5), Purdue (+6), Cal (-6), TCU (-37.5), Colorado State, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska straight up.

For more useless sports banter, follow me on Twitter @rory_maccallum

NFL Record: 9-7-1

College Football Record: 5-3-0

NFL Stars Ink New Deals

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Wednesday  was the deadline for all player’s given the franchise tag to sign a long-term deal.

The deadline came and went yesterday, and when the dust settled all major players aside from Jason Pierre-Paul signed. Justin Houston, a pass rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs, signed a six-year $101 million deal, the biggest contract for a linebacker in NFL history.

The two deals that everyone is more interested in are for the two wide receivers, Dallas’s Dez Bryant and Denver’s Demariyus Thomas. Both signed nearly identical five-year $70 million deals, Bryant’s with $45 million guaranteed, Thomas’s with $43.5 million guaranteed. There were four observations I had from what went down wednesday.

The first observation I had is this: I told you so. Here’s something I wrote on Monday after Dez Bryant threatened to sit out games: http://goallinegazette.com/2015/07/13/dallas-cowboys-dez-bryant-threatens-to-sit-out-games/

Bryant’s threat proved to be empty. The Cowboys were able to sign him for $2 million less a year than Calvin Johnson, even though Bryant had better production last season. Like I said Monday, deadlines have a way of making both sides more reasonable, and that’s just what happened today. The Cowboys have their top receiver locked up for his prime years now.

461349044-demaryius-thomas-of-the-denver-broncos-wait-gettyimagesThe second observation was the fact that the two deals for Dez and Demariyus were nearly identical. Both teams were in similar situations. They had two top talents at the wide receiver position. They wanted to sign both to long-term deals. They also both wanted to be cautious about how much they paid each, because both have young talent that they want to be able to sign down the line. The Cowboys want to keep their young offensive line together, particularly second-year guard Zack Martin, who was a Pro Bowler in his rookie season. The Broncos’ top pass rusher, Von Miller, is entering a contract year, and will likely be given the franchise tag at the end of next year. Neither team wanted to let deals made with these receivers affect their ability to resign their other young players down the road.

Also remember that earlier this week, there were reports of collusion between the Broncos and Cowboys. Notice that these deals were exactly the same, yet they were signed within about an hour of each other. The NFLPA said on Monday that if the two players didn’t sign long-term deals by today, they would move forward with the collusion charges. However, the similarity of these contracts shows that there was likely collusion not only between the two teams, but likely between the two agencies that represent each player. And by the way, this isn’t a bad thing, as it creates a fair market value for two players who are at almost equal levels at this point in their careers.

The third observation I had comes from a unique perspective I have of each player. I live in Denver, and I go to school in Dallas, so I see how each fan base view these respective players. Dez Bryant and Demariyus Thomas are essentially the same player. They were both drafted in 2010, Thomas 22nd overall, Dez 24th. Demariyus has played 69 regular season games in his career, and has compiled 351 receptions for 5,317 yards and 41 touchdowns in five seasons. Bryant has 381 catches for 5,424 yards and 56 touchdowns in 75 career games. Each has played a full 16 games over the last three seasons. Thomas is 6’3 229; Bryant is 6’2 220. They’re both big, physical receivers who are excellent at using their unique combination of size and speed.

However, Bronco fans are nowhere near as supportive of Demariyus Thomas as Cowboy fans are of Dez Bryant. Bronco fans are extremely hesitant to put Demariyus in the same class as Bryant and Calvin Johnson. They will never hesitate to bring up the fact that Thomas didn’t seem to give 100% effort against the Colts in a playoff loss last year. The best explanation I can give for why is this: Cowboy fans have another scapegoat in Tony Romo, whereas Bronco fans worship at the feet of Peyton Manning, and need to find another scapegoat when things go wrong. Both have given almost identical production throughout their careers, and Bryant has definitely had more off-the field/immaturity issues than Thomas has; yet Cowboy fans appreciate Dez as a top-of-the-line receiver, and Bronco fans like to criticize Demariyus. The explanation that makes the most sense is that the Cowboys have Tony Romo, Jerry Jones, and a terrible defense to point the finger at for any failures, while Bronco fans would rather kill a family member than blame Peyton Manning or John Elway for anything, even after a horrible performance by Manning against the Colts in the postseason last year. It’s a lot easier for Bronco fans to blame John Fox, or Demariyus Thomas for their shortcomings.

The last observation I have is not only because of these three deals, but also for the big contracts that have been signed over the last few years. If you can play quarterback at a high level, if you can protect the quarterback, if you can tackle the quarterback, or if you can catch the football thrown by the quarterback, you can make a lot of money in the National Football League. Teams have made it clear, that quarterbacks, receivers, left tackles, and pass rushers are the most valuable positions in this league. The Dolphins and Bengals gave fat contracts to their quarterbacks who have all kinds of question marks, yet the Patriots refused to overpay cornerback Darrelle Revis, despite being a vital piece to their Super Bowl run, and the Seahawks traded away one of the best centers in the league for a tight end coming off a bad year. There are four positions where the money is in football, and today’s deals reflected that in a big way.

Note: All stats are courtesy of ESPN

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant Threatens to Sit Out Games

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With the deadline to sign a multiyear deal looming, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant tried to heighten the stakes today, threatening to sit out training camp and regular season games if he and the Cowboys are unable to reach a long-term deal. Dez tweeted out today, “As much as I love football…on my beautiful babies… I apologize #cowboynation but I will not be there if no deal #fact” The tweet came after Bryant reportedly informed Stephen Jones, the son of Jerry Jones (who we all know is actually the one running the team and deserves a lot of credit for the Cowboys recent success) of this information. Stephen Jones denied that Dez had told him that.

The deadline for signing a multiyear franchise deal is 4 p.m. eastern on Wednesday, July 15. If Bryant doesn’t sign by then, he will receive a $12.8 million salary this upcoming season if he agrees to sign the one-year franchise tender. The Cowboys love Dez Bryant, and consider him their best offensive player. They’d like to lock him up long term, but they don’t want to overpay him. Much of the Cowboy’s success last season came from the league’s best offensive line, and they want to keep that group together for a long time. They signed left tackle Tyron Smith to a big contract last summer, and they want to lock up right guard Zack Martin in the upcoming years. In a salary cap league, they won’t be able to do that if they overpay for Dez.

The Cowboys believe Bryant’s threat to be a bluff. While Dez has had all kinds of off the field and on the field issues with his maturity, the one thing that can’t be denied is that Dez loves football, and he loves his team. Even during OTAs and minicamp, while Bryant was still negotiating with the team, he couldn’t keep himself away, participating in individual drills, and being on the sideline watching when his contract situation didn’t allow him to participate. Because of this, the Cowboys aren’t worried about Dez’s threat, and are confident number 88 will be on the field in uniform week 1 against the Giants.

Dez Bryant has established himself as one of the top receivers in football. He’s a part of an elite group that includes Antonio Brown, Demariyus Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Jordy Nelson. However, Dez has now played in the league for five years, and it wasn’t until last year that he played in his first playoff game. While Bryant had an impressive season, the real secret to the Cowboy’s success in 2014 was due to their much-improved offensive line and their ability to get consistent quarterback play out of Tony Romo for the entire season. If you look at the receivers listed above, their production is based almost entirely on their quarterback’s effectiveness. Demariyus Thomas wasn’t a top tier receiver with Tim Tebow, but he is with Peyton Manning. A.J. Green is a lot better with regular season Andy Dalton than playoff Andy Dalton, who we all know are two different quarterbacks. In Super Bowl XLIX, the best wide receiver in the game was 5’10 college quarterback Julian Edelman. Yet, there were receivers on both teams making tremendous plays.

The point of all of this is that there are plenty of good wide receivers in the NFL, and the fact is a good quarterback will be good with just about any of them. Dez Bryant is incredible, but his value to the Cowboys is nowhere near enough to sacrifice their young offensive line down the road. However, deadlines always seem to make both sides think a little more reasonable, and it won’t surprise anyone if by time 4 pm passes on Wednesday, Dez Bryant will have a new long-term contract with the Dallas Cowboys.