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By Brendon Jessop — 2 years ago
A wise man once said, “A W is a W”. That has never been more true than right now. In what was, without question, the ugliest game of the year played by the boys in blue, they somehow figured out a way to escape with a win. Four fumbles, two were recovered by the Vikings, 10 penalties for 78 yards all seeming to come on big plays:
- 43 yard scamper by Ezekiel Elliott: Holding by Doug Free – Drive ended 3 plays later with Lucky Whitehead lost fumble
- Interception by Anthony Hitchens (@ MIN 39): Illegal Use of the Hands by Orlando Scandrick – Drive resulted in a Vikings punt
- 7 yard run by Ezekiel Elliott: Clipping by Gavin Escobar. Instead of 2nd & 3, its 1st & 24, drive resulted in Dallas Punt
- 11 yard reception by Jason Witten on 3rd & 8: Holding on Ezekiel Elliott, drive resulted in a Dallas punt 2 plays later.
Dallas did everything they could to lose this game. The Vikings defense played as expected and held this offense to 264 yards. Dak Prescott finished the day 12/18 for 139 and a touchdown for a rating of 108.3. I should note that over 50 of those 139 yards came on 1 play to Dez Bryant. What kept the Cowboys mistakes from dooming them was the failures by the Minnesota special teams. Punter Jeff Locke had a miserable day, averaging only 32 yards per punt and more than one of those punts shooting backwards for a big Dallas gain. Adam Thielen lost the ball on this punt return which led to a Dez Bryant touchdown on the next play.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 2, 2016
The offense faced its toughest test of the year against this Vikings defense. The Vikes built their secondary the way the Cowboys built their Offensive line and it showed. Dez was able to capitalize on their one mistake for a massive reception that fell short of the end zone by 1 yard, but other than that one mistake, the secondary held the Dak Prescott in check.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 2, 2016
Dak continued to play smart but was again taken by surprise when he was put under pressure and had the ball knocked out of his hand. If there is a knock on Dak, this is it. Perhaps it is due to the comfort generally afforded him by this offensive line. We all say how comfortable he looks in the pocket, but maybe it’s too comfortable. Dak has 4 times as many fumbles as interceptions. Sam Bradford happens to be the closest to this stat among active starting quarterbacks with 7 fumbles and 3 interceptions. Zeke had a steady game and should have broken the 100 yard mark but had a 43 yard run negated by a holding penalty, he finished the day with 20 carries for 86 yards and this TD.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 2, 2016
Defensively, the Cowboys played well. They gave up a total of 87 rushing yards and 231 passing. Bradford completed 32/45 for an average of 5.5 yards per reception, which would rank him 54th among the 59 Quarterbacks who have attempted a pass this year. This was a result of the offensive Vikings offensive line which forced Bradford to catch and shoot the entire game. The Cowboys played safe, made tackles and kept the offense in front of them, which led to 3 field goals until the last two minutes of the game when Sam Bradford looked like the former 1st overall pick and led the Vikings down the field with no timeouts to find the end zone and pull within 2 with 25 seconds left. Bradford and the Vikes went for 2 but Bradford’s pass sailed out the back of the end zone. With all the mentions of bad calls or over calls, the refs flat out missed one on this play which sealed the win for the Cowboys. The Cowboys pass rush got home and slapped Bradford in the jaw just after he released the ball, this should have resulted in a penalty and retry of the 2 pt conversion, instead, the pass is incomplete and the Vikings are forced to try an onside kick. Jason Witten recovered the onside kick and Dak kneeled the ball to end the game and the Cowboys win their 11th straight game.
For all the miscues by the Cowboys that kept the Vikings in this game, they found a way to pull this one out. The better team won, but didn’t deserve it. I’m going to chalk it up to being the 3rd game in 12 days, but A W is a W.
Keys to the Game Scorecard:
- Protect the ball. 4 fumbles, lost 2. Dak continues to be taken by surprise whenever someone gets close and dropped another one, which was recovered by Zeke on a crucial 3rd and 1.
- Run the ball. 140 yrds rushing as a team. 86 by Zeke. Zeke did have a 40 yard run that was negated by a holding by Doug Free. So, 126 yrds*!
- Get pressure on Sam Bradford. Bradford was sacked twice for a loss of 15. He was able to get the ball out within 2 seconds on nearly every play. This kept the offense limited to little crossing routes.
Vikings: 15Views: 0
By Matt Robinson — 2 years ago
Starting Five: C: Jusuf Nurkic PF: Kenneth Faried SF: Danilo Gallinari SG: Gary Harris PG: Emmanuel Mudiay
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 8 seed; Out; Out
Mudiay is a sight to see on the court with incredible athleticism, size, and passing at the point guard position. He better be working on his jumper this summer though, because 36/32/67 is not going to cut it in the NBA. If he keeps that up he is going to be the next Ricky Rubio, a player that is thought to be good because there is always a highlight, when in reality its just another empty, worthless play.
Denver’s number 1 draft pick, Jamal Murray, is everything that Mudiay isn’t as a shooter. They both play the point, but Murray may work his way to more of a combo guard before the season is over. This is an VERY young team that would be hard pressed to get 30 wins if they didn’t have the thin mile high air on their side.
Starting Five: C: Gorgui Dieng PF: Karl Anthony Townes SF: Andrew Wiggins SG: Zach LaVine PG: Ricky Rubio
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; Out
With the drafting of Chris Dunn at number 5, this may be the last year for Ricky Rubio starting for the T’Wolves. Dunn may be the best point guard that the T’Wolves have ever drafted, including when they took three PGs in the first 18 picks of the 2009 draft, two of which were taken before Steph Curry. Dunn has handles, he can take it to the hole and finish, and if he can learn from Rubio how to read a defense and get the ball to the young rising stars on the team, the T’Wolves will be a force to be reckoned with in the West (in the future).
As for this year, I would be a little surprised to see the season end for Minnesota without a losing record. KAT has all the skills to be one of the best big men in the league and Wiggins has star potential written all over him, but losing KG as the veteren in the locker room will hurt them since he was the big brother that could teach the young guns how to deal with issues faced with the long season. If they do make the playoffs, they will be an easy out for whoever plays them, but this team is all about gaining experience right now and playoff experience would be a huge step for them. From Wiggins’ spin moves, to Lavine’s acrobatics, to Rubio’s no-looks, Dunn’s crossovers, and KAT’s overall fluid game, make sure to press record on your DVR so you can watch it over and over and over.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Starting Five: C: Steven Adams PF: Ersan Ilyasova SF: Kyle Singler SG: Victor Oladipo PG: Russell Westbrook
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; 6 seed
This team has so many question marks, its hard to even come up with a starting 5. Will Ilyasova start, or will they keep him on the bench and start Kanter? Will Donovan start Singler at the 3 to get some more length and shooting, or does he want Roberson out their to lockdown opponents’ wing positions with Oladipo? One thing that is for sure, is that Steven Adams has turned into a great big man that does all of the dirty work. It is going to be an interesting season for the Thunder, but I think they can still make some noise in the West. Can they win the title? Probably not, but they can give some headaches to teams in the playoffs.
Westbrook catches hell from some for missing the playoffs when Durant was out for most of the year in 2015. But I feel that is unfair, because Westbrook also missed 15 games that year. They won 45 games and missed the playoffs because of a tiebreaker. But Westbrook wasn’t just playing without Durant, he was also playing without $20 million worth of NBA talent. When you get rid of a superstar, you can replace that $20 million of cap space with a $10 million dollar player and two $5 million dollar layers. Russ didn’t have that, he had nothing. Also, just changing the team dynamic with no practice is crazy. A team has to relearn how to play with each other without a main piece of the puzzle. That would be like trying to take a leg away from a table and making it stand right away. One could find a way, but it would take time, and perhaps some trial and error. The Thunder and Westbrook didn’t have that time, they were thrown to the wolves to figure it out on the fly.
This year, Russ will be ready. He is in a contract year, and is ready to prove to the world that he didn’t play on KDs team, it was their team, and maybe even Russ’. He’s sick of hearing about how everyone else can do this or do that, but they don’t realize that Russ can do this AND that. Yeah, he’s not the best shooter (even if he doesn’t realize it), but when you need a bucket he will
find a way. He’s the closest thing to the Big O we may ever see, and this year his numbers will prove that. That’s right, I am expecting a triple double from Westbrook. Ok, well at least close to one. He is going to be a maniac on the court. He’s going to be the player that forgot to sign up for AAU and has to play in a church league. It’s Russ’ world this year, and he is going to be the most exciting player to watch in the NBA, hands down.
OKC made the smartest choice (and perhaps got good fortune as well) when they got Russ to sign that extension. It’s great for the Thunder because they keep a superstar on their roster. It’s great for Russ because he can become a free agent after his 10th year in the league when he can get 35% of the total salary cap instead of 30%. That will be about $6 million a year. Many thought that he would bolt for LA and become a Laker, but nobody in their right mind would go to that debacle of a team in the prime of their HOF caliber career. The Lakers have a big task, and several trades ahead of them to become Westbrook ready. Maybe being in LA in the offseason is enough for Russ, it’s not as if NBA players have a ton of time during the season anyway. Also, Westbrook does seem to have a loyalty about him that you do not see in all NBA players.
Starting Five: C: Mason Plumlee PF: Al-Farouq Aminu SF: Evan Turner SG: C.J. McCollum PG: Damian Lillard
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 4 seed
The Blazers in the playoffs looked like they were on the edge of taking the next step, and all they were missing was experience. The one thing I wish they would’ve done in the offseason is add one or two good veterans, but they did add Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. That wasn’t necessarily a bad move, because it will give them depth, but maybe they will be able to get Steve Blake back for a one year vet minimum deal to add some age to the team.
One of Portland’s biggest advantages is their bench. They go two deep at every position. Festus Ezeli, Ed Davis, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, and Shabazz Napier is their second five. Not bad, not bad at all. There might even be a trade in there somewhere to get a good player on a bad team that wants to rebuild. Maybe getting Serge Ibaka from Orlando or Paul Millsap from Atlanta. Lillard is a star, and it is time for him to lead this team to a 50 win season.
Starting Five: C: Rudy Gobert PF: Derrick Favors SF: Gordon Hayward SG: Rodney Hood PG: George Hill
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; 8 seed
Utah is set at point guard: George Hill the defensive stopper and Dante Exum the freak athlete, not to mention they still have Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, and the second round draft pick Marcus Paige. They are going to dump one or two of these in a trade
or put them down in the D league. They’ve also got two big 6’8″ wings in Hayward & Hood that can both score and defend. Another year in and they will be that much better.
Utah is young and inexperienced, and did exactly what young and inexperienced teams need to do in the offseason, they got veteran experience. Signing George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson will help this team tremendously. George Hill is a solid starting point guard in the league, and while Joe Johnson is on the downside of his career, he can still score in bunches when you need him to an he’s not afraid to take the shot at the end of the game. Boris Diaw has been winning with the Spurs deep into the playoffs for the past five seasons. What he will be able to bring to the youthful Jazz is priceless. These are the main
reasons Utah will sneak into the postseason in 2017.Views: 0
By Brendon Jessop — 2 years ago
When the NFL schedule gurus created this Sunday Night Football matchup, the Cowboys and the Bears looked much different than they do now. Jay Cutler was the QB in Chicago and Tony Romo was the man in Dallas. Instead, we get the veteran Brian Hoyer versus the rookie, Dak Prescott. But the starting QB’s may not be the only missing pieces from the originally planned lineups. CB Orlando Scandrick (Hamstrings, has not practiced), RT Doug Free (Quadricep, Limited in Practice) and DE Jack Crawford (Shoulder, Limited in Practice) could all potentially miss Sunday night’s game. Everything coming out of the Star in Frisco says that Scandrick could take the week off. I know the Bears are win-less and playing a backup QB, but these Bears receivers are not to be taken lightly. Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are both capable of putting up big numbers at any moment and Hoyer is a seasoned veteran who finished last season with a passer rating over 90, throwing for 19 TD’s and only 7 INT’s.
The Chicago defense has been decimated by injury with 10 players either limited or not practicing this week. This should be the week Dak gets his first and maybe second TD passes of his career. The question that could spark the most debate, however, isn’t with the rookie Prescott. Of all the position groups on this team, the offensive line has the most intriguing dilemma. With Doug Free limited in practice, Ron Leary aching for action on the sideline and La’El Collins struggling at Guard, it’s creating a perfect storm to move Collins (who’s every highlight is in the open field) over to right tackle and Leary back into his left guard spot. This could help the struggling run game significantly. Collins missed 5 blocks last week in the run game. To say he isn’t the mauler we all hoped for is an understatement. Ezekiel Elliott needs some holes this week to help him get his mind right after being benched for the first time in his life. Zeke dropped the ball twice last week after only fumbling 3 times in his entire college career. Couple this with his off the field ‘issues’ (if you can call them that), and he needs a big game this week.
Defensively, the Cowboys need to get to Hoyer and force him to make bad decisions. This has been a problem spot for the Cowboys D, which is to be expected when you are essentially rushing 4 DT’s. The two sacks this season are, of all things, coverage sacks which allowed time for the big guys up front to power their way home. Those coverage sacks might be a little harder to come by this week. If Scandrick sits, look for Byron Jones to get some action at corner alongside Carr, Claiborne and rookie Anthony Brown with JJ Wilcox and rookie Kavon Frazier getting more reps at the Safety.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Game Time: 7:30 PM on NBC
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington
All in all, this week is set up perfectly for the Cowboys to break that 8 game home losing streak pretty easily. Here are the keys to the game:
- Continue to get Dez the ball – Expect to see at least 1 X thrown up.
- Establish the run – It’s a case of the chicken or the egg here. Getting the ball to Dez opens the run. Running the ball early opens up Dez.
- Do NOT let Alshon Jeffery beat you – Hoyer is capable, but is prone to make mistakes. Shutting down their playmaker should help him make some more.
Bears: 13Views: 0