The Cowboys Report

Cowboys rock Redskins but fall short of postseason

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The Dallas Cowboys (8-8) came away with an easy win on Sunday when they blew out the Washington Redskins (3-13) by the score of 47-16.


The Cowboys needed to win and have the New York Giants (4-12) beat the Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) for them to win the NFC East and make it into the playoffs. Dallas played hard and looked like the team everyone expected them to be all year but sadly, the Giants couldn't beat the Eagles and the Cowboys season came to an end.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had one of his better games of the year. He was 23/33 for 303 yards, 4 touchdowns, and NO turnovers. Dak connected with seven different receivers, second year man Michael Gallup led them with 5 catches for 98 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was Gallup's first multi score game of his career. Also, super star wide out Amari Cooper finally showed up for the first time in a few weeks, he had 4 catches for 92 yards.

With Dak and Company having so much success through the air, Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott also had a big day. He carried the ball 18 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully, this was just a glimpse of what this team can in the years to come.

Improvements to watch for in the Offseason

New Head Coach: First and foremost, they need a new voice in the locker room.I believe this team has quit on Jason Garrett and he is the main reason this extremely talented team under performed. I don't know why he wasn't fired first thing Monday morning but if they stick with him next year will just be more of the same.

Offense: They locked up Zeke with a huge contract this year, now it's time for them to pay both Dak and Cooper as they enter free agency. The QB position is way more important than receiver so believe Dallas will give Dak a market value contract and then probably franchise tag Cooper to make him prove his worth, especially with the play of Michael Gallup towards the end of the year. The resigning of slot receiver Randall Cobb would be great for them as well if they can get him at a reasonable price.

Defense: They all are set with their two core stud linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch but Vander Esch missed most of the year with a neck injury. Hopefully he can recover during the offseason and come back at an elite level. I believe Dallas will look to sign some secondary help and improve the defensive backfield.The top free agents at this moment are Chris Harris (CB), Jimmy Smith (CB), and Logan Ryan (CB).

NFL Playoffs

With that being said there are still 11 NFL Postseason games to be played:

Saturday January 4th:

AFC Wild Card:Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans at 3:35 pm Central Time

AFC Wild Card:Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots at 7:15 pm Central Time

Sunday January 5th:

NFC Wild Card:Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints at 12:05 pm Central time

NFC Wild Card:Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles at 3:40 pm Central time

Saturday January 11th:

NFC Divisional Round Games:Will be at 3:35 pm and 7:15 pm Central time

Sunday January 12th:

AFC Divisional Round Games:Will be at 2:05 pm and 5:40 pm Central time

Sunday January 19th:

AFC Championship:Will be at 2:05 pm Central time

NFC Championship:Will be 5:40 pm Central time

Sunday February 2nd:

Super Bowl LIV (54):Kickoff is at 5:30 pm Central time

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The Astros are back in action on Friday. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Astros couldn’t have slammed the door on their fellow American League West contenders this week, but they didn’t have to open the door a bit wider for the Rangers and Mariners. The odds didn’t favor the Astros losing two out of three at home to the woeful Oakland A’s, but que sera sera. That extends the drama about who wins the division. Should the Astros wind up not winning it, their confounding mediocrity at Minute Maid Park this season will be a remembered culprit. A 38-37 home mark simply is not title-worthy. However, their 45-27 road mark certainly is, and they need to tack on several more wins to it, starting with this weekend’s three game set at pathetic Kansas City. At 46-101 the Royals sit a half game worse than the A’s in the “chase” for the worst record in Major League Baseball.

In feebly losing the first two games to Oakland the Astros didn’t choke against the A’s. They merely stunk and were outplayed. It happens. The offense was snuffed in the first loss, Justin Verlander got lit up in the second. That’s not choking, it’s failing. Even had the Astros not salvaged the last game and instead been swept, it wouldn’t have meant they choked. Did the Rangers choke last week in Arlington? Or was it the Astros playing tremendously and kicking the crap out of them three in a row? The concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, but it was much, much more about the Astros putting on a dominant display. The A’s just plain beat the Astros Monday and Tuesday.

As pitiful as the A’s are, they still win more than 30 percent of their games. The Astros are obviously not a great team, they lose more than 40 percent of their games. The won-loss percentage gap between the good and the dregs is much smaller in MLB than it is in the NFL and NBA. It’s just how the sports are. Unless Patrick Mahomes was injured or suddenly retired beforehand, the Texans beating the Chiefs two out of three is inconceivable. The A’s taking two of three from the Astros was surprising and for Astros’ fans exasperating and perhaps a bit unnerving, but it should not have been shocking to anyone. Hence, it would be shame on the Astros if they go into K.C. with any sort of “We’re great on the road, the Royals are lousy, we got this.” mentality.

Credit to the Rangers for responding from the beatdown the Astros put on them. After that the Rangers lost a series opener to the A’s last Friday and were really teetering. They haven’t lost since, taking two from Oakland and then rolling to a four game sweep of a huge series at Toronto. The Mariners meanwhile rebounded from dropping two of three at the crummy Mets and the first of a series with the also-ran Angels to win their last two. So here we are. The Astros enter the weekend one half game ahead of the Rangers (tied in the loss column with the Astros owning the tiebreaker) and a game and a half ahead of the Mariners (one better in the loss column but the Mariners own the tiebreaker). The Rangers are at Cleveland this weekend. Business is business, so if you’re an Astros fan choke down that bile for a “Go Dodgers!” weekend with the Dodgers in Seattle for three. To start next week the Astros are back home (uh oh!) for three vs. the outstanding Orioles, the Rangers are home for the playing out the string Red Sox, the Mariners get three at Oakland.

After that it is fabulously beneficial to the Astros that the Rangers and Mariners have seven head-to-head meetings over the season’s final 10 games. That guarantees that either the Rangers or Mariners lose at least four of them, which makes it highly likely that the Astros at least snag a Wild Card unless the Astros reeeally falter. While the natural focus is on winning the West again, should the Astros falter and finish behind both the Rangers and Mariners, they are not out of the woods from missing the playoffs completely. They are three games ahead of Toronto, though the Blue Jays hold the tiebreaker over the Astros. The Jays’ final 15 games are all within the AL East: six vs. the Rays, six vs. the Yankees, three vs. the Red Sox).

The Astros have virtually no shot at finishing with the best record in the AL. That will belong to the AL East winner, Baltimore or Tampa Bay. The Rays took the opener of a four game series in Maryland Thursday night to get within one game of the Orioles. Just one win gives the Orioles the season series tiebreaker.

Until things are settled, every game is critical, but none more so than the Astros’ three at Seattle September 25-27. Dusty Baker and staff have tweaking to do with the starting rotation if Verlander and Framber Valdez are to make starts in that series. Valdez goes this Sunday in Kansas City. He needs to jump ahead of J.P. France’s turn Friday at MMP vs. the Royals so Framber can have four days rest ahead of starting the series finale against the Mariners the following Wednesday. That would also have Valdez available on three days rest for the regular season finale at Arizona, should game 162 be critical. Verlander’s next scheduled turn is Monday vs. Baltimore. His next start after that should be the following Monday in the opener in Seattle. So the decision needs to be made whether Verlander is better off pitching Monday and not again until the following Monday, or pushing his start vs. the Orioles to Tuesday.

When it comes to the Astros, nobody has you covered like SportsMapHouston!

Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I am part of alongside Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule a first video segment goes up about 4PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, with the complete audio available in podcast form at outlets such as:

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