The Cowboys Report

Dallas Cowboys year in review

Zeke Elliot keeps rolling. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (11-7) 2018 season came to an end Saturday night with a 30-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (14-3).They failed to win another road playoff game and were unable to make it to their first Conference Championship game since 1996.

The 8 point loss does not paint a true picture of the game. Dallas was never in a realistic position to win. The Rams dominated the Cowboys by shutting down Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, controlling the clock, and scoring on 5 of their 7 possessions.

Elliott was held to 22 touches total, 20 carries for 47 yards (1 Touchdown), and 2 catches for 19 yards.He was never able to get anything going, mostly because the Rams kept the ball out of his hands by possessing the ball for a little over 36 minutes.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had a good game. He was 20/32 for 266 yards, one touchdown, and NO turnovers.He was responsible for almost all of their offensive production but that was all due to the Rams plan of shutting down Zeke.Dak connected with eight different receivers, most notably was a 29 yard touchdown pass to stud receiver Amari Cooper mid-way through the first quarter.Cooper had 6 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.Their leading receiver was rookie Michael Gallup who posted his first career 100 yard game with 6 catches for 119 yards. If he continues to improve, the Cooper/Gallup duo could become one of the better tandems in the league.

The defense went into the game knowing they were up against a big challenge in the Rams' offense.They held their own for most of the first half but ran out of gas when the Dallas offense punted three consecutive times on their last three possessions before the half. Team leading tackler Leighton Vander Esch had his worst game of the year with only four total tackles, even though three were solo.The Cowboy defense gave up over 450 yards, 273 of them were on the ground. Superstar running back Todd Gurley and veteran C.J. Anderson both had over 100 yards and scored touchdowns.

Looking back, I believe the Cowboys have a lot of positives to build on and have shown that they are a good team that can become great very quickly. Don't forget that they started off 3-5 and their season could have been over a long time ago. Instead, they rallied and made it all the way to the No. 4 seed in the NFC.They have a solid core of great young talent on both sides of the ball and have to potential to be contenders for years to come.

Possible Improvements

Offense: Elliott, Cooper, and Gallup can be great weapons for Prescott.The offensive line is one of the best in the league and the only position they need to improve on is tight end. The void that was left when Cowboy great Jason Witten retired was never filled and it showed.

Defense: Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are two young amazing linebackers that are the foundation to build around. The Cowboy D could use either a great defensive lineman and or a dominant defensive back to complement their stud linebackers. Re-signing defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is a must for the Cowboys to keep their defense in the top 10 of the NFL.

3 Things to watch for in the offseason

1.Dak Prescott (Quarterback): The Cowboys' front office needs to make a decision in whether or not he is their QB of the future. The 2019 season will be the final year of rookie current contract and his next one is looking to be a big one.It will probably be around $20 million per year.

2.Jason Garrett (Head coach): The 2019 season will also be the final year of his current contract. I think they should let him play it out and see if he can produce another great season before signing him to an extension. Dallas is almost always at a disadvantage when it comes to coaching and I believe a change is needed no matter what.

3. Earl Thomas (Free agent safety): There were rumors early this season that Thomas would like to play for the Cowboys before he was injured as a member of the Seahawks. Dallas could use this six-time Pro Bowler on back end of their defense who could be the defensive back they need to help upgrade this side of the ball.

With that being said, there are only 3 games left in the NFL season:

Sunday January 20th

NFC Championship: Rams vs Saints at 2:05 pm Central time

AFC Championship: Patriots vs Chiefs at 5:40 pm Central time

Sunday February 3rd

Super Bowl LIII (53):Kickoff is at 5:30 pm Central time

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Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images.

NASCAR makes its inaugural trip to the Daytona Roval for the Go Bowling 235. This will be one of the most anticipated races in recent memory considering that for many years, it was considered that NASCAR would run here in this configuration and now it's finally has come. It will be extremely hard to predict what will go on and to add on there will be no practice and qualifying. This should be one of the most insane races in recent memory and I have no idea who will win this one. This will be a race you don't want to miss

Kevin Harvick dominated the doubleheader last week as he won both races on Saturday and Sunday. He led a combined 182 laps in both races and was easily the best car. The main headline of the race was NASCAR's new choice box rule. This was implemented last week for the first time in a points paying event as NASCAR tried it out in the all-star race at Bristol in June. This rule allows each driver to go to either the outside or the inside of the orange painted box after the start finish line. This allows them to line-up in either lane they chose. It paid dividends for a lot of drivers including Bubba Wallace and Joey Logano as they both picked up a number of spots on Saturday on the final restart. Overall, I really like this new rule but NASCAR once again decides to change everything up in the middle of the season. I echo the sentiments of what Clint Bowyer's spotter Brett Griffin was saying on his door bumper and how NASCAR needs to stop making such massive changes in the middle of the season. Regardless, I look forward to seeing how this works going forward.

As the silly-season continues, one of the big dominoes to fall was Christopher Bell as it was announced (as expected) that he will drive the #20 Toyota next season for Joe Gibbs. This was bound to happen the moment Bell moved up to the Cup Series this year for Leavine family racing. This was very similar to the trajectory of how Erik Jones got his ride back in 2017 when he replaced Matt Kenseth in the same car. While I hate to see Erik out of a ride, I have a feeling he will land on his feet and have a career resurgence wherever he goes. Besides, more than likely he'll be at the top of the list for Rick Hendrick to take over the #48 ride. This silly season continues to twist and turn as there were also rumors that a driver that isn't currently in the sport also was interviewed by Rick Hendrick for the ride. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks.

As we get closer and closer to the playoffs, the battle for the 16th and final spot in the standings is heating up. Currently, 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones both sit 17th and 18th in the standings. This has been a season of such promise for both of these drivers and as everyone knows this is Jimmie's last season. It would be a shame to see both of them miss the playoffs as both have a lot to race for. In the next few weeks, don't be surprised to see these guys get desperate. In fact, Johnson has changed his paint scheme to white as he believes the black and purple look has given him bad luck. Both of these drivers have the speed to get in and it will be crucial for them to pick up as many stage points as possible, something they have struggled with all year. It will be interesting to see who falls over the next few races.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. Like I said earlier, this will be very difficult to predict considering this has never been done before and that there will be no practice. But if there is anyone who can get it done on a Roval, it has to be Ryan Blaney. Back in 2018, he won the first race at the Charlotte Roval and while both are extremely different, it would only make sense to see him win here. This year has been tough on the second generation driver and while he is solidly in the playoffs and has led the points at one point, he still has yet to capture that elusive first win. I expect all that to change come Sunday. Look for Ryan Blaney to take the checkered flag.

Tune in this Sunday, this is definitely going to be one for the books. There will be a lot of beating and banging and a lot of things that we aren't used to seeing. With the chance of rain as well, we could also see history as NASCAR has the rain tires at the ready for this occasion. This will be one you won't want to miss.

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