RB Ezekiel Elliot is not done yet

RB Ezekiel Elliot bounced back strong for the Cowboys in Week 3

By: Adam Hulse

There was much concern about Ezekiel Elliot heading into the 2021 NFL season. He was coming off his worst year ever in 2020, setting new career lows in many different categories. His 979 rushing yards, four yards per carry, six rushing touchdowns, eight total touchdowns, and 6.5 yards per reception were all new career lows for Elliot. He did set one new career high last year, but unfortunately it was in a negative category, losing five total fumbles. That’s the same amount of turnovers that he had in the rest of his entire career combined.

2020 Struggles

It was a rough 2020 campaign for Elliot, but there were reasons why some of it could be somewhat understandable. With Dak Prescott being injured in week five and missing the rest of the season, defenses were stacking the box against the run without the threat of a real passing game. In addition, the Cowboys suffered a ton of injuries to their offensive line last year as well, including to their top two blockers in Tyron Smith and Zack Martin.

All of the injuries to key players in the Cowboys offense may have made Elliot feel extra pressure to perform last season. He may have been trying to to force things a bit too much, would could possibly explain the fumbles. Playing with a backup quarterback and loaded defensive box for the majority of the season can in a way explain why his production averages fell off. Regardless, it was clearly the worst season of his career by far and the concern about him no longer being the same dominant force that he used to be was justified, especially considering the short life span of running backs in the NFL.

2021 Campaign

Elliot entered the 2021 NFL season determined to prove that 2020 was a fluke and that he still has plenty left in the tank. Week one was an unimpressive performance, touching the ball 13 times and only producing 39 total yards against one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Bucs. He improved in week two against the LA Chargers, getting 18 touches for 97 yards and a touchdown. His big breakout was in week three against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, producing 116 total yards and two touchdowns on 20 touches.

It was a much needed dominant performance by Elliot on a big stage. He helped the Cowboys demolish the Eagles in a premium game. This performance should provide him with a huge confidence boost moving forward. Additionally, the emergence of Tony Pollard should help keep Elliot more fresh. He can now receive a few less touches so he will have an opportunity for a quality over quantity situation. Pollard has been explosive as the second back in Dallas this year, turning his 35 touches into 248 total yards and a touchdown. His contributions will take some of the burden off of Elliot while keeping him at full strength.

Overhyped NFL teams after Week 1

Who are the overhyped NFL teams?

By: Thomas Cunningham

Okay, football fans, as week one of the 2021 NFL season has officially closed, it is time to reflect on those teams that were let down this past weekend. As teams do every year, there were many big-name signings, even bigger contract extensions made, and some future pillars of rosters drafted.

However, let’s first just all be thankful that football is officially back, regardless of the outcome of your team’s game. It is the time of year where you are wearing your favorite jersey, on the edge of your seat, just waiting for that next big play to be made. Speaking of big plays, as the title of this article suggests, we will break down some well-overhyped teams leading into week one that did not live up to expectations.

Now, some may find this list subjective or unfair due to it being the only week one, but the next few teams listed not only had fan base hype but national media hype and did not come close to living up to either expectation. So let’s get into shall we?

“America’s Team” could not pull out the win.

That’s right, folks; the Dallas Cowboys were on out in full scale during their Thursday night matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Cowboys have had a lot of hype coming out of training camp about their condition, how well wide receiver Ceedee Lamb and running back Ezekiel Elliot looked, and how improved their defense will be coming into this season.

Well, to say the least, “Dem Boys” will always be just “Dem Boyz.” Last year, putting points on the board was not the Cowboys’ problem; it was keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard that was ultimately Dallas’ downfall. Fast forward to this season, and that trend seems to have continued along with multiple stalled red zone drives after having multiple takeaways from an otherwise unprepared and injured Buccaneers team.

The good news for Cowboys fans is that quarterback Dak Prescott did have an impressive first outing, with over 400 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. However, just like the past few seasons, it looks like Prescott is once again left out on an island to defend himself. It truly seems that Dallas has picked up right where they left off last year.

Did “Who Dat” actually put the league on notice?

This past Sunday, the New Orleans Saints absolutely embarrassed the Green Bay Packers, winning handily 38-3. With such a dominant win, the thought would be that the Saints mean business this season; however, you have to place this game into context. Though Jamis Winston threw five touchdowns, he only threw for 148 yards. This game actually belongs to the Saints’ defense, which helped put their offense in great field position. It also has to be put into the minds of everyone; the Packers absolutely gave up in that game, especially on offense. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is regarded as one of the best QB’s of all time, looked as sloppy and uncaring as one player could.

This only made the Saints’ life easier as the game went on, especially after the Packers’ defense was completely gassed. The Saints will make some noise this season, but ultimately this “high powered” offense will lose steam, especially when they start facing top defenses.

We have all seen this from the Las Vegas Raiders before

Okay, sports fans, if this story sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The Raiders had a lot of hype surrounding them last season because they were able to beat teams like the Kansas City Cheifs and New Orleans Saints, but did all of this to only go 8 and 8 on the season and also lose to teams like the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots

The hype begins again after their victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Now the victory was earned, even if the Ravens fell flat on their face. However, it has to be said that as the season continues, the Raiders will seemingly fall into a similar pattern as last year, especially with their faith in Derek Carr possibly wavering.

Why the Cowboys can Win Week 1

The Cowboys can start their season with an upset.

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The 2021 NFL season kicks off on Thursday night September 9th with the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs hosting the Dallas Cowboys. The Bucs are a pretty big favorite currently, as they should be, but it is not going to be as easy for them as the betting line may suggest. Here are some reasons why the Cowboys can open the season with a big upset of the defending champs.

Dak is Back!

Dak Prescott returns for the 2021 NFL season after missing the large majority of 2020 due to a gruesome ankle injury. The Cowboys are a completely different team when Prescott is healthy and the numbers prove it. In the 2019 season, when he last played a full season, the Cowboys offense was absolutely dominant. In addition to being the number one ranked offense in the league that season, they were statistically the best offense since the 2013 Denver Broncos. Their 431.5 yards per game were the most that year by a very wide margin, ahead of the second ranked Baltimore Ravens by nearly 24 yards per game. In 2020 before the injury, Dak was on a ridiculously scorching hot pace. If he continued on his per game averages for a full season, he would have set a new NFL passing yardage record for a single season.

Prescott will look to pick up right where he left off and he could really be an even better version of himself this season. Now that he has received the mega-contract that he has been waiting for, there will be a weight lifted off his shoulders. This could allow for him to play looser and more confidently with a bit less pressure on him. This could help the Cowboys offense be even better than it already was, and that is a scary thing for opposing defenses, starting with the Bucs in the season opener.In addition, a healthy Prescott could also very well mean a big bounce-back season for Ezekiel Elliot because the defense has to respect the passing game much more. That in turn should open up more running lanes for Zeke. The other thing that will improve the Cowboys is their new weapon, CeeDee Lamb, that Prescott has not had the luxury of using for a full season yet.

The CeeDee Lamb Effect

Lamb had an excellent rookie season in 2020, recording 74 receptions for 935 yards and 5 touchdowns. What makes that even more impressive is that it was Andy Dalton throwing him the ball for most of the season rather than Prescott. He should be even better this year now that the Cowboys have their true starting quarterback and the short time that the two of them played together last year is a glimpse at what’s to come in the future. Across the five games that Prescott played last season, Lamb registered his only two games with over 100 receiving yards, his only game with multiple touchdowns, and had at least 5 receptions in each of those 5 games. He is lined up to have a monster season out of the slot for the Cowboys, with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup working on the outside.

Improved Defense

In the 2019 NFL season, the Cowboys had the 9th ranked defense at 327 yards allowed per game. Despite bringing back almost all of their defensive roster, they regressed big time in 2020, allowing 386.4 yards per game and ranking 23rd. This lead to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan being fired after just one season. The Cowboys hired a huge upgrade for the job in Dan Quinn, who was the mastermind behind the famous Legion of Boom defense in Seattle. This will, in theory, help the Cowboys get back to playing more like a top 10 defense once again. Drafting Micah Parsons, a highly rated prospect who can do a little bit of everything, should also help them get back on track. This new look Cowboys defense may catch the Bucs off guard in week one. It has yet to be seen exactly how Quinn is going to scheme with his new team and that element of surprise could be an advantage for Dallas.

Timing Matters

There is no doubt that the Tampa Bay Bucs are one of the very best teams in the NFL. They are the favorites to once again win the NFC conference, as they should be. The fact that the Cowboys get to play them the first week of the season, rather than later on, may be the very best time for a possible upset. In the first couple of weeks in an NFL season, many teams come out a little but rusty, making upsets more likely. It sometimes takes a couple of games before teams really hit their stride and get the team chemistry down. A highly motivated Prescott getting this big opportunity in week 1 with new weapons and a better defense could be the perfect recipe for a huge upset in the very first game of the 2021 NFL season.

Projecting winners of each NFC division

Who will win the NFC East?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The NFC has been an interesting conference in recent years, from the Eagles winning the Super Bowl against the dynasty that is/was the Patriots, to the Panthers making Super Bowl 50, to our current reigning champions the Buccaneers.  The conference could be looking to have new appearances both for division winners as well as Super Bowl contenders, which always makes things interesting.  In this article, I will be going over who I believe will win each NFC division, as well as why they make sense to do so.

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

To be completely fair, this division is getting closer as of late, with players like Justin Jefferson and Justin Fields being added in recent years we see improvements from the other three teams.  With that said, as long as the Packers have Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, they have a good chance to win.  They were able to lock up Aaron Jones for a few more seasons, and we should see a true debut year from A.J. Dillion at RB2 now that Jamaal Williams is gone.

Additions such as Eric Stokes, De’Vondre Campbell, Amari Rodgers, and Randall Cobb should be definitive pieces to the puzzle for Green Bay as they make another playoff push.  They have not significantly improved their team this offseason, that much is clear, but being able to retain Rodgers for another year and keep the focal points of their offense allows them a chance.

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had two major issues last season that prevented them from going anywhere.  The first being lackluster QB play, which they fix with the return of Dak Prescott.  The other issue was their defense, which struggled immensely, which they have fixed by taking 8 defensive players of their 11 draft picks this year, with their first six all being defensive players.  Just to list them off, they got Micah Parsons, Kelvin Joseph, Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston, Nashon Wright, Jabril Cox, Quinton Bohanna, and Israel Mukuamu.

This influx of defensive players, as well as the return of Dak, should make this team the best in the NFC East, on top of their top tier receiving core and solid offensive line which just takes them over the top.

NFC South – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The reigning Super Bowl champions were able to retain all 22 of their starters from last year, and the last time that happened it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who went on to repeat and win another SB.  Now, will that be the case?  That is yet to be seen.  But winning the division has to come first, and they have prepared to do so with solid offseason acquisitions.

So far they have brought in players like Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, KJ Britt, Chris Wilcox, and Ladarius Hamilton.  As well as the return of O.J. Howard, Kenjon Barner, Shaq Barrett, Jack Cichy, and A.Q. Shipley from late-season IR.  

NFC West – Los Angeles Rams

Finally, we have the NFC West, which is probably the strongest division all-around in the league, never mind the conference.  With that said, the Rams are probably the most complete team of them all right now, with playmakers at every level of offense and defense.  To state the obvious first, Matt Stafford is going to drastically improve the team’s offense, and the addition of Sony Michel is one that despite losing Cam Akers should be able to create some productivity.

They obviously still have Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on the team too, both of whom are top players at their position.  Overall the explosiveness that Stafford could bring to this offense could put this team in deep playoff contention this season.

Predicting the Top 5 Offenses This Season

Will the Chiefs top the list once again?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The 2021 NFL season is now less than 3 weeks away. The preseason is halfway completed and rosters are being finalized as teams prepare for week 1 of the regular season. Now is as good a time as any to start projecting how productive each team will be this year. In particular, let’s predict who the top offenses in the NFL can be this season, counting down from 5th place and continuing all the way to the number one spot.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The defending Super Bowl champion Bucs finished last season as the 7th ranked offense in the NFL with 384.1 yards per game. This is very impressive considering it was the first year for Tom Brady in a brand new style of offense. Going from the “Patriot way” to the air it out style of Bruce Arians is a drastic change so it took Brady a few weeks before he really got things rolling last year. Now that he has had a full season and offseason to learn the new system and tweak it a bit to fit his own style, it is likely that the Bucs offense will take a step forward this season. They are returning pretty much their entire championship roster from 2020 so another year of chemistry should work in their favor as well. Their combination of weapons is one of the best in the entire league, including one of the top wide receiving groups in the NFL of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. They helped lead the Bucs to the second best passing offense last year with 289.1 yards per game.

4. Buffalo Bills

The Bills finished the 2020 season tied for the second ranked offense with 396.4 yards per game. Most of this was due to the MVP caliber play of quarterback Josh Allen who really had a break out season. He put up by far the best numbers of his career throwing the ball, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 4544 yards and 37 touchdowns, which were all new career highs. It appears that one of the main keys to unlocking his potential was the addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. In his first year in Buffalo, he had the best season of his career while leading the NFL in both receptions with 127 and receiving yards with 1535. The chemistry between Allen and Diggs appears to be extremely strong and this combination should have the Bills as one of the top offenses for many years to come. Having the creativity of one of the top young offensive coordinators in Brian Daboll definitely helps them as well.

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Last season the Chiefs finished as the top offense in football by an incredible margin of nearly 20 yards per game over second place. To show just how wide that gap is, the separation between the second and 12th place offenses was 20 yards. Clearly the Chiefs offense at 415.8 yards per game was absolutely dominant last season and as long as they keep their core together there is no reason at all to believe that they won’t be in the top five every season. The combination of Andy Reid at head coach with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback is a seemingly perfect match, as demonstrated by finishing as the number one ranked offense in two out of their three seasons together. They have the best “tight end” in football with Travis Kelce and one the top, and fastest, wide receivers in Tyreek Hill. Also, second year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire should take a step forward this year as a true dual threat now that he is more comfortable in this system.

2. Tennessee Titans

Tied for second last season on offense with the Bills were the Titans. Unlike the Bills who relied heavily on their passing game, it was the rushing game in Tennessee that was the key to their success. They ranked second in rushing yards per game with 168.1 while superstar running back Derrick Henry eclipsed the 2000 yard mark. In addition, Ryan Tannehill is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL and his fourth ranked QBR of 78.3 demonstrates that. To make this great offense even better than it already was, the Titans added Julio Jones this offseason to pair with emerging star AJ Brown in what is now one of the best wide receiver tandems in the entire league. In just two season, Brown already has accumulated 122 receptions for 2126 yards and 19 touchdowns in the passing game. Jones, who is one of the best receivers of the past decade, recorded 1000 or more yards in every season of his career that he has played in at least 14 games. Between Henry, Brown, and Jones the Titans create an absolute nightmare situation for opposing defenses to try and match up with. They are in line for a monster season on offense.

1. Dallas Cowboys

In 2019, which was the last full season for quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys lead the NFL in offense by a very wide margin with 431.5 yards per game. In addition to the fact that they were about 24 yards per game clear of second place, they totaled the most offensive yards in a season by any team since the Denver Broncos in 2013. Before Prescott was injured in 2020 they were off to yet another scorching hot start for offensive production. In particular, Prescott was on an absolutely ridiculous pace that could have set a new single season record for passing yards if he did not get hurt. As long as he fully returns to health this season, the Cowboys should have another huge year on offense and could be even better than before with the addition of second year wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. In the five games last season that Prescott started, Lamb registered 29 receptions for 433 yards and two touchdowns. This is a connection to watch this season and could really be something special moving forward. Of course, Prescott will also still have the luxury of his usual arsenal of weapons too with Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup.

Dark horse Super Bowl contenders in the AFC and NFC

The 49ers are back to being a threat

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

As the kickoff to the 2021 NFL season quickly approaches, it’s time to start really taking a look at what teams are built to make a Super Bowl run. There are certain teams on all radars such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Bucs, and Green Bay Packers but there are no sure things at all in the NFL. Every season is different and filled with surprises. There are always teams that exceed expectations as well as others that greatly disappoint. Looking past the top favorites, here are a few teams that have a realistic opportunity to be Super Bowl contenders this year.

NFC: Dallas Cowboys

The 2020 season was one to forget for the Cowboys but that is mostly because quarterback Dak Prescott was only able to play in five games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. In 2019 Prescott lead the Cowboys to be the top-ranked overall offense in the NFL at 431.5 yards per game, the second-ranked passing offense at 296.9 yards per game, and the sixth-ranked scoring offense at 27.1 points per game. It’s possible that these totals could be even higher in the 2021 NFL season with the addition of CeeDee Lamb to the returning weapons of Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. The defense has been an issue for the Cowboys, especially in the 2020 season where they were towards the bottom of the NFL in almost every category, but drafting Micah Parsons and signing Dan Quinn to be the new defensive coordinator should both greatly help to improve on that side of the ball. Finally, the Cowboys have the second easiest strength of schedule ranking this year so they have an excellent opportunity for a huge season.

NFC: San Francisco 49ers

Unfortunately, the 49ers season in 2020 was one that was defined by an endless list of injuries including key players like Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Nick Bosa. It was a very disappointing season, especially considering that they were the defending NFC Champions. Looking back to the 2019 season when they were healthy, they had the fourth-ranked total offense at 381.1 yards per game and the second-ranked scoring offense at 29.9 points per game to go with the second-ranked total defense at 281.8 yards allowed per game and eighth-ranked scoring defense at 19.4 points allowed per game. This obviously demonstrates not only how dominant they were but also their elite balance. They were towards the top of the NFL in just about every statistical measure and they have good reason to believe they can have a similar season in 2021 now that everyone is healthy again and they are returning the large majority of their roster.

AFC: Tennessee Titans

Possibly the biggest move of the entire NFL offseason was the Titans adding superstar wide receiver Julio Jones to their already potent offense. They were already the second-ranked total offense last season at 396.4 yards per game and will likely be much better this year with their new weapon. The Titans offense is going to create a huge problem for opposing defenses now that Jones is joining AJ Brown and Derrick Henry. In particular, the defending safeties are going to have to pick their poison. It’s impossible to double team both wide receivers as well as load the box to defend against the dominant rushing attack of Henry. If these three players, and also quarterback Ryan Tannehill, can all stay healthy this season the Titans are likely going to have a very special offense. Their defense was fifth-worst in the NFL last season at 398.3 yards allowed per game but they are hoping their added reinforcements, such as Bud Dupree and Caleb Farley, can help them improve on that side of the ball.

AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers

After finishing the 2020 season with a 12-4 record and winning the very tough AFC North division it’s a little strange to consider the Steelers a dark horse but that is exactly what they are. According to the Draft Kings Sports Book, they have only the 16th best odds to win the Super Bowl this year and their projected win total is just 9 games. This is interesting because they are returning all of their offensive weapons and the majority of their impact defenders as well. In addition, they probably upgraded at running back by drafting Najee Harris and will get back one of their best defenders, Devin Bush, who missed ten games last season. The biggest loss for the Steelers this offseason was to their offensive line, where they will basically have a brand new unit this year that is completely unproven. The Steelers are not getting much respect at all heading into the 2021 NFL season but as long as their blocking comes together, they can be right back in the mix again for a Super Bowl.

Expect the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the worst records in 2021

The worst NFL teams in 2021 will be…

By: Andy Davies

Plenty of uncertainty surrounds the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans going into the 2021 season. Their quarterback situations are far from clear and their overall rosters are mediocre at best.

The same goes for their head coaches, with all three going into their first seasons at the franchise. Neither of Dan Campbell, Nick Sirianni, or David Culley has been a full-time head coach in the NFL. Campbell is the only one to have some experience, with his spell as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2015.

Here is why you should be expecting the Lions, Eagles, and Texans to have the three worst records in the league in 2021.

Saying Goodbye To A Franchise Legend In Detroit. Struggles For The Replacement

Matthew Stafford was the number one overall pick in 2009, with the entire city of Detroit hoping he would be the man to turn around the fortunes of the franchise. Despite three seasons of making the playoffs, the Lions and Stafford never won a single postseason game as the wait continues. The Lions remain the team with the second-longest period without a playoff win, their last taking place on January 5th, 1992.

Stafford had some great individual moments as a Lion, most notably his Mic’d up moment during his 2009 rookie season. In a week eleven game against the Cleveland Browns, he overcame injury to produce a moment of pure heroism. He played with a separated shoulder despite the efforts of the medical staff to keep him off the field, leading the Lions to a touchdown-winning drive.

Jim Caldwell guided the Lions to these playoff appearances but was not seen as good enough to take them to the next step. New England Patriots assistant head coach Matt Patricia was brought in but never took to life as head coach. The Lions had three consecutive losing seasons under the coaching of Patricia. They will hope that they have found their guy in Dan Campbell. His press conference was certainly not dull, with Campbell referring to “biting kneecaps”. As a former Lions player, he knows what it takes to play in the league. He also knows about the city of Detroit and his intentions are both positive and clear. If he is given time, he has the desire to bring the good times back to Detroit. However, he is inexperienced as a head coach and the roster is below average.

New quarterback Jared Goff has the potential to struggle. This is despite the drafting of offensive lineman Penei Sewell at seventh overall, a selection that had Campbell and new General Manager Brad Holmes very excited.

Despite his brilliant 2018 season that saw the Rams reach Super Bowl 53, Goff had a poor game and struggled in 2020 as he and head coach Sean McVay’s relationship deteriorated.

Goff struggled despite a plethora of offensive talent around him. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. He is going to a franchise that let go of their two best wide receivers and failed to replace them.

The Lions have a schedule that features the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. There are also two games against their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears. The Lions do not have it easy.

Prediction: 3-14

Trouble In Philadelphia; Reason For Hope?

The Eagles have seen three years of gradual decline after winning Super Bowl 52. The 2017 season saw the Eagles lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time after two previous attempts.

Doug Pederson was the head coach to guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl but was fired after the conclusion of the 2020 season. His decision to bench rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in order to lose and gain a higher draft pick appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.

Carson Wentz had an MVP caliber season before an injury derailed hopes of winning the award. Backup Nick Foles stepped in and guided the Eagles to the Super Bowl 52 win. He also stepped in a year later and guided the Eagles to a shock Wildcard Round win against the Chicago Bears, with thanks also going to a Cody Parkey missed field goal.

Both Foles and Wentz are no longer Eagles players. Out of the starters in that Super Bowl 52 win, only seven remain with the franchise. Their decision to draft Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson continues to be mocked by rival fans and nobody knows how new head coach Nick Sirianni will do in the role.

The schedule is mixed for Philadelphia. Whilst they face the New York Jets, Lions, and twice play the New York Giants, they also have to face the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.. This is as well as facing a rising Washington Football Team twice as well as playing the Dallas Cowboys both home and away.

Reports have surfaced in recent days of the Philadelphia Eagles being the favourites for Deshaun, with talks said to be “heating up”.

This could be a move that transforms the franchise. However, Deshaun Watson had his best statistical season yet the Texans only managed four wins all year. This proves that whilst it is very important to have a good quarterback, you need more around to be successful.

Unless the Eagles do something in what remains of the offseason, they will continue to be mediocre if their roster continues to be this poor. If they get offensive or defensive talent in the next one or two offseasons, then they are a team that will compete for years to come. Otherwise, the Eagles will fail to be a threat to both the NFC and NFC East.

This is why Deshaun should avoid the Eagles at this present time. He will be going into a situation no different to what he experienced in Houston.

Prediction: 4-13

What A Difference A Year Makes

Where do we start with the Houston Texans? The 2019 season saw them take a 24-0 lead against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. However, they allowed 41 unanswered points as they lost 51-31. What has unfolded since in the following nineteen months has been reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.

Head coach Bill O’Brien, who also was general manager, made the unusual decision to trade star wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins. In exchange, the Texans received a running back past his sell-by date in David Johnson, one second-rounder and one fourth-round pick. O’Brien only lasted four games in the 2020 season as they finished the campaign with just four wins.

Since the conclusion of the 2020 season, franchise legend J.J Watt has left and there continues to be an uncertain future surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson. Houston’s quarterback requested a trade in January before allegations of sexual assault arose. These have lingered throughout the remainder of the offseason. It is unclear if Watson will play in the NFL at all in 2021 but even if he does, it is unlikely that he will be wearing a Texans jersey.

Houston has said they would listen to trade offers for Watson, with the franchise said to be wanting three first-round picks. They have also acquired Tyrod Taylor via Free Agency and used their first pick in the draft on Davis Mills in the third round. Even if the Eagles stick with Hurts, there will be plenty of other suitors.

Even with Watson, the Texans are light on the ground when it comes to elite talent. Linebacker Zach Cunningham and Laremy Tunsil are talents and despite adding Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram to the running back room, the roster is one of the league’s worst.

David Culley has developed somewhat of a worrying reputation after his time with the Eagles, Chiefs, and Baltimore Ravens. During his fourteen-season spell with the Eagles, his four seasons with the Chiefs, and two years with the Ravens, he had 0 wide receivers earn a PFF grade of 80 or above.

The Chiefs wideouts went an entire season without a touchdown under Culley. With a wide receiver room featuring Brandin Cooks, Nico Collins and Anthony Miller, this is not exactly a position of strength for the Texans. Culley is unlikely to see any of these receivers score high PFF grades.

Whilst the Texans might be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars twice and the Jets, they have a tough schedule. They will face the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. Houston will also play the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers as well as the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans twice.

They are unlikely to win many of these games. Fans should be expecting a difficult season.

Prediction: 2-15

Why Dak Prescott Could Win Both NFL MVP and CPOY

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is ready to have a huge season

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

After a gruesome injury ended his 2020 season short, Dak Prescott is now back and ready to have a huge year in 2021. According to the Draft Kings Sports Book, he is the clear favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award at +200 odds, above the second choice of +700 odds. In addition, he also is the fourth favorite to win the MVP award with +1400 odds. Obviously, if he wins the MVP award this season he will also win the CPOY award easily. Here is why he could win both awards in the 2021 NFL season.

Comeback Player of the Year

Unfortunately for Prescott, a terrible ankle injury during the fifth game of the season ended his year short in 2020. It was the first time in his five-year career so far that he was unable to complete a full season, so it’s very reasonable to believe that he will bounce back to full strength for the 2021 NFL season. The injury is what makes him eligible for CPOY, and if he does in fact pick up where he left off, then he is going to run away with the award. He was on an absolutely ridiculous pace in the 2020 season and could have potentially been on his way to one of the best seasons by a quarterback of all time.

Through his first four games of the season, Prescott threw for a massive 1690 yards. This was not only the most in the NFL that year, but was on pace to set a new NFL record by a very wide margin. If he continued at the rate he was on, he would have thrown for 6760 yards, which have broke the single season passing record by more than 1000 yards over Peyton Manning and his 5477 yards back in the 2013 season with the Denver Broncos. Of course, it’s unlikely that Prescott would have maintained that scorching pace over a full 16 games, but it just demonstrates how good he was before getting injured, and why he will win CPOY in 2021 if he does in fact pick up where he left off.

NFL MVP

In addition to being the clear favorite to win CPOY as long as he looks like himself again, Prescott will also be in the mix to win the NFL MVP award. His huge start to the 2020 season was not necessarily a surprise, as he has consistently been one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL in his career and has improved his game year after year. In the 2019 season, he set new career highs in passing yards with 4902 and passing touchdowns with 30. If he can continue to grow from there, he will once again be towards the top of the quarterback rankings. This is is why he is one of the favorites to win NFL MVP this year.

As long as he is fully healthy, there is no reason to believe that Prescott will not once again have a monster season. The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is still a major strength, Ezekiel Elliot is still in the prime of his career, and he will still have his usual passing targets in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. One big upgrade in the 2021 NFL season is that he will have the luxury of CeeDee Lamb in the slot for a full season. Lamb was a rookie in 2020 and showed that he has a strong chemistry with Prescott in the short time they had together.

In the five games that Lamb had Prescott as his quarterback, he put up his best number of the entire season. He had a minimum of five receptions in each of those games, recorded his only multi-touchdown game of the season, and eclipsed the 100 yard mark twice. This could be an extremely dangerous combination for many years to come, and could play a major factor in progressing Prescott to the next level. With the addition of Lamb, as well as his own proven progress as a quarterback, Prescott is a real threat to win both the CPOY and MVP awards this coming season.

Why the Cowboys are Super Bowl Contenders

The Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders

By: (@AdamHulseSports)

The Dallas Cowboys are a team that is a real Super Bowl contender heading into the 2021 NFL season. They have a head coach in Mike McCarthy who has already won a ring with the Green Bay Packers, one of the best offensives in the NFL lead by superstar quarterback Dak Prescott, and an improved defense with a brand new, and highly respected, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. They are the current betting odds favorite to win the NFC East Division at +135 according to the Draft Kings Sports Book and they actually have the second easiest strength of schedule ranking. There are many reasons to believe that the Cowboys can compete for a Super Bowl this season.

Dak is Back

After missing the majority of the 2020 season due to injury, Dak is back and ready to go for the 2021 NFL season. He has consistently been one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue as long as he is fully healthy. In his last full season in 2019, he put up the best numbers of his career including 4902 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns, both of which were career highs. In fact, because he has consistently trended up each year in terms of production, it’s still very possible that he will be even better this coming season than ever before. The best version of Prescott may still be on it’s way and that’s a very exciting thought for the Cowboys.

Elite Offense

The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the entire NFL. Last season, even without Prescott for eleven games, the Cowboys still ranked 14th in total offense at 371.8 yards per game and 17th in scoring offense with 24.7 points per game. This demonstrates that even with the terrible quarterback play, and a ton of injuries to the offensive line as well, their offensive weapons were still good enough to produce. Now that Prescott and the line are both healthy again, they can get back to being the dominant force that they were in 2019 or even better. That season the Cowboys ranked 1st in the NFL in total offense with 431.5 yards per game and 6th in scoring offense with 27.1 points per game.

The CeeDee Lamb Factor

In addition to Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup, who were all a part of the team in 2019, is the now second year wide receiver in CeeDee Lamb. He had a very impressive rookie campaign in 2020 with 74 receptions for 935 yards and 5 touchdowns in a crowded passing offense. The fact that only five of his sixteen games played were with Prescott makes his season even more impressive. Most importantly, his best games of the year were when Prescott was playing including both of his games where he eclipsed 100 receiving yards, his only game with multiple touchdowns, and his most receptions with eight in a single game. This connection between Prescott and Lamb is something to keep an eye on in the 2021 NFL season and will likely be a huge weapon for the Cowboys.

Improving Defense

The Cowboys were a disaster defensively in the 2020 season. They ranked 23rd in yards allowed with 386.4 per game and 28th in points allowed with 29.6 per game. Despite not losing much in terms of personnel, this was a huge drop-off from their solid 2019 season where they ranked 9th in yards allowed with 327 per game and 11th in points allowed with 20.1 per game. This is why defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was fired after just one season with the Cowboys. They upgraded in a big way this offseason by hiring Dan Quinn to be the new DC, who was the mastermind of the famous Legion of Boom defense in Seattle with the Seahawks. With stars like Jaylon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence to pair with exciting newcomers like Micah Parsons, Quinn has an excellent opportunity to get Dallas back into the top ten defenses in the NFL.

Season Outlook

Playing in the NFC East division that is fairly weak compared to the rest of the NFL gives the Cowboys an excellent chance to make a postseason appearance. The Eagles are in a complete rebuilding year, the Giants are improving but don’t appear quite ready to compete yet, and the defending division champions, Washington, are a solid team but definitely beatable and not as talented as the Cowboys are as a whole. This is why the Cowboys are the favorites to win their division and make an appearance in the playoffs. If Dak Prescott can continue to improve, and Dan Quinn lives up to his expectations of greatly improving the defense, then the Cowboys will be right in the mix as a Super Bowl contender.

What to Expect from the Cowboys Defense in 2021

Cowboys defense to rise or sink in 2021?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

After a very disappointing year defensively in the 2020 season, the Dallas Cowboys have made some big changes for the 2021 NFL season in hopes of improving on that side of the ball. Most importantly, they fired their defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and replaced him with Dan Quinn, who was the mastermind behind the famous Legion of Boom defense for the Seattle Seahawks for several years. This was a crucial move for the Cowboys and one that could really get things moving in the right direction.

Coaching Change

Nolan, who was appointed defensive coordinator by head coach Mike McCarthy, only lasted one year in the position, and for good reason. The Cowboys finished the 2020 season ranked 23rd in yards allowed with 386.4 per game and 28th in points allowed with 29.6 per game. They also ranked 31st in run defense with a massive 158.8 rushing yards allowed per game. This is a significant drop off from the Cowboys 2019 season where they finished 9th in yards allowed with 327 per game, 11th in points allowed with 20.1 per game, and 11th in rush defense with 103.5 rushing yards allowed per game.

The extreme regression between 2019 and 2020 without losing much in terms of player personnel was the reason why Nolan was fired after just one season. The hiring of Quinn, in theory, is a huge upgrade from Nolan. He has had great success as a defensive coordinator and even found some success as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons when he took them all the way to a Super Bowl at the peak of his time there. He is a widely respected and highly thought of coach who will bring fresh energy and brand new scheme to the Cowboys defense that already has plenty of talent.

Roster Changes

The defensive roster is going to look mostly the same this coming season as it did last year, lead by two stars in DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith, but there have been a few key changes. The two biggest subtractions are due to the retirement of linebacker Sean Lee and the loss of pass rusher Aldon Smith. Randy Gregory, who had 3.5 sacks last season, will be the main player looking to replace the production of Smith, who ranked second on the team with 5 sacks last season. In addition, the Cowboys will look to get contributions from youngster Bradlee Anae and the newly signed Tarell Basham.

Another player that will help in the pass-rushing department, among many other things, is rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons. He is an extremely versatile player who will contribute in all aspects defensively, including replacing long time staple Lee in the linebacker group. Parsons is going to be an exciting player to watch this year and it will be interesting to see how creative Quinn gets with his unique talent. Theoretically, the Cowboys have an impressive group of linebackers when Parsons is added to Jaylon Smith and a hopefully healthy Leighton Vander Esch.

The Cowboys also added two hybrid safeties in free agency, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee. Both of these players were a part of the Atlanta Falcons team that Quinn was the head coach of, so they are very familiar with his system. They should play a big part in bringing the rest of the defense up to speed and will be key rotational pieces as well. In his four-year career, Kazee has 10 interceptions and 199 tackles across 52 games played while Keanu Neal has been a tackling machine in his career with 338 tackles in just 49 games played spread across five seasons in the NFL.

In the NFL Draft this offseason, the Cowboys made it very clear that they were trying to add as much help as possible on the defense. They used their first six selections all on defensive players and used eight of their eleven total picks on defenders. Probably most importantly besides the potential game-changer and current favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year in Micah Parsons, is the fact that they drafted three cornerbacks, which is their weakest position group. Most notable of the three was their second-round pick of Kelvin Joseph out of Kentucky at 44th overall. He is a big and physical style of cornerback, which is exactly what Quinn prefers from his coverage players.

Expectations

It is reasonable to expect a huge improvement on defense from the Cowboys in the 2021 NFL season compared to the terrible one they had in 2020. Replacing Nolan with Quinn should yield much better results alone but the key additions, especially Parsons, without losing too much significance make their defensive outlook favorable for the upcoming year. In 2019 they were a top ten defense in the league and there is no reason to believe that they can’t be that or better this coming season. With a healthy Dak Prescott in 2019, the Cowboys were the top-ranked offense in the entire NFL at 431.5 yards per game and they should be right around there again this year now that he is back. If their defense can take the significant jump forward that they are expected to this season, the Cowboys are absolutely a contender to win the Super Bowl.

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