Cowboys vs. Eagles Preview

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Dallas Cowboys, NFL

By Chris Bates

    This week’s Cowboys vs. Eagles game will go a long way in deciding who will win the division title.  Dallas comes in at 3-3 just 1 game behind the Giants for 1st place in the NFC East and Philadelphia comes in at 2-4 in last place in the NFC East.  The Eagles had a bye last week and have had 2 weeks to prepare for the Cowboys.  Philadelphia has won 12 consecutive games after their bye week.  The Eagles have the 2nd longest losing streak in the NFL at home, losing 5 home games in a row dating back to last season.  The longest streak is 7 straight home losses by the Dolphins.

Keys to the Game

       The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Eagles.  It gave them a chance to rest up and get healthy.  This is especially true for quarterback Michael Vick who has been dealing with injuries all season.  For the Eagles, their keys include being able to establish the ground game early.  Dallas is #1 versus the run this season but they have not faced a running back to the caliber of LeSean McCoy yet. Philadelphia is the #1 rushing team in the NFL and Dallas is the #1 rushing defense in the NFL so something has to give. If the Eagles can establish the run game, that makes things easier for Mike Vick and his receiving corps.  Vick has not been the quarterback he was last year when he threw for 21 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions.  So far this season, he has 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions but has yet to be fully healthy in a game.  DeSean Jackson is a player the Cowboys must watch out for, he hasn’t had a very good season(456 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns) but the Cowboys know what he is capable of.  On defense, the Eagles must contain DeMarco Murray who had a career game last week against the Rams.  Philadelphia ranks 23rd versus the run.  Putting Dallas in 3rd and long situations benefits the Eagles to do what they do best which is to blitz.   Quarterback Tony Romo has been know in the past to get rid of the football before he wants to resulting in interceptions after feeling the pressure.  The Eagles must find a way to pressure Romo.

        For the Cowboys, putting pressure on Vick is essential to stopping the Eagles.  If Vick is able to escape from would-be tackles and keep the play alive then it could be a long day for the Dallas secondary.  Cornerbacks and safeties can only hold their coverage for so long before it breaks down, this is what Vick gives you in terms of an additional weapon on offense.  Dallas must make open field tackles.  Philadelphia is one of the best teams in the NFL in making people miss.  The Cowboys must stay balanced on offense such as they did in the Rams game.  Establishing the run with DeMarco Murray will make the game a lot easier for Tony Romo.  The Cowboys have the weapons on offense to give the Eagles fits on defense.  Being able to pass and run block effectively is a big key to the game.  The Eagles linebackers are too slow to cover Jason Witten, he should be open all day in the middle of the field.  Jason Garrett called 10 more running plays than passing plays against the Rams (34 to 24).  In order to win this game, he must have a little more balance on offense.


      Dallas has won their last 2 games in Philadelphia and has an opportunity to move into a tie for 1st place with the Giants if New York loses to the winless Dolphins.  This is a very crucial game for both teams, an Eagles loss makes it hard for them to make a playoff push, and a Cowboys win puts them in contention for the NFC East crown.  Andy Reid is brilliant coming off of bye weeks and the Eagles should be fully rested giving a matchup of 2 rivals that are both healthy for the most part.  I see this game as being an instant classic, scoring will go back and forth with big plays on both sides taking place.  In the end, I believe the Cowboys end the Eagles 12 consecutive wins off of byes streak and extend their home losing streak to 6 games.  If the Cowboys play their game and all 4 quarters they should come out on top.

Final Score: DAL 30 PHI 27.


By Chris Bates

          This week in fantasy football there are numerous pick-ups you can add to your team due to multiple injuries.  Listed below are the players that I think will have the greatest impact.

Delone Carter, RB, IND.   Carter was the only bright spot in the Colts embarrassing loss to the Saints.  Joseph Addai re-aggravated a hamstring injury that has been bothering him leaving the door open for Carter.  10 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown are the numbers for Carter in last week’s game and with the Colts pass offense struggling, Carter should see an increased workload.  He is a solid add and based on different matchups is a nice flex-play for your team.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, WSH.  Santana Moss is now out 5-7 weeks with a broken hand suffered in last week’s game against the Panthers.  Gaffney becomes the #1 receiver for Mike Shanahan and quarterback John Beck.  Fred Davis will benefit the most from this, he should see the most targets.  Gaffney is a solid play.

Alfonso Smith, RB, ARZ.  Beanie Wells is doubtful this week with a sprained knee and Arizona is expected to give Smith carries.  LaRod Stephens-Howling is only a good pickup (had 76 yards and 1 touchdown receiving last week).  Smith has upside here, especially if Wells is going to be out for a little while.

Ben Tate, RB, HOU.  Despite Arian Foster’s huge day, the Texans were still committed to giving Tate some carries.  He had 15 carries for 104 yards in the Texans blow-out win over the Titans.  Maybe because the game was a blowout that Tate saw more carries, but he is worth an add to see what happens in the upcoming weeks.

Roy Helu, RB, WSH.    Tim Hightower is not out for the season after suffering a Torn ACL last week vs. Carolina.  Helu and Ryan Torain are both expected to see carries and in Mike Shanahan’s offense you never know which running back will see more playing time.  Helu is a solid back and a solid play.

Antonio Brown, WR, PIT.   Brown received a team-high nine targets and had a career day catching 7 passes for 102 yards.  Hines Ward had to leave the game with an undisclosed injury and if Ward misses any time, Brown takes a significant rise in fantasy value along with Mike Wallace.

Christian Ponder, QB, MIN.  Ponder played well in his first career start against the Packers.  He threw for 212 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions but was very mobile in the pocket and avoided several sacks.  With Adrian Peterson at running back, the passing game will open up for Ponder. 

Michael Jenkins, WR. MIN.   Jenkins led the Vikings in targets last week with 8 and connected with Ponder on a 72 yard touchdown reception finishing the game with 3 receptions for 112 yards.  Yes Percy Harvin is still there, but it’s clear that Ponder has a nice repoir with Jenkins.  Look for Jenkins as a solid bye-week fill in/flex-play.

Below is a list of players to start for this week:


DeMarco Murray, RB, DAL.  No, I am not saying to start him just because of last week’s breakout performance.  I am saying start him based on this week’s matchup against the Eagles.  Philadephia is 23rd against the run, Murray was brilliant against the league’s worse rushing defense in St. Louis but he ran hard and over people for a lot of those yards.  Look for Murray to have another big game vs. the Eagles. 

Jackie Battle, RB, KC.  Battle is clearly the #1 running back for the Chiefs.  Yes Dexter McCluster had a season high 10 carries but Battle received 16 and had 76 yards.  He has upside, this week faces division rival San Diego who is 21st vs. the run.

Bengals D/ST.  A very favorable matchup this week against the Seahawks.  Pete Carroll doesn’t know who his quarterback is and Seattle is ranked 31st in total offense.  The Bengals have the 2nd best defense overall in the NFL so far this season.  Look for a lot of turnovers and alot of points from Cincy’s defense.

Mike Wallace, WR. PIT.  With Hines Ward expected out with an undisclosed injury, Wallace becomes the clear-cut #1 target for Ben Roethlisberger.  Wallace has been the favorite target of Big Ben all season but with the news of Ward, Wallace should have an even greater impact.

Brandon Lloyd, WR. STL.  Lloyd definitely made an impact in his first game with the Rams.  He was targeted a team-high 12 times and caught 6 passes for 74 yards.  That was with A.J. Feeley throwing to him.  Sam Bradford is a much better quarterback and Lloyd’s value should rise when Bradford is back under center for St. Louis.


LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI.  The Cowboys have the NFL’s best rushing defense, having not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.  Dallas held Steven Jackson to 60 yards last week, a pretty accomplished running back.  McCoy has been excellent this season but if Michael Vick continues to struggle in the passing game, the Cowboys will make Vick’s arm beat them and not Philly’s run game.

Sidney Rice, WR, SEA.  Pete Carroll has not decided on who his quarterback this week will be and it won’t matter.  The Seahawks have a tough matchup this week against the Bengals who are 5th in the NFL versus the pass.  Rice will receive a lot of double teams and different looks causing for a sub-par day.  Keep him out of your lineup.

Aaron Hernandez, TE, NE.  Hernandez has been strong since his return to the lineup and the Patriots are coming off a bye.  This week they have a matchup with the Steelers and safety Troy Polamalu, who will be covering Hernandez closely.  Look for Hernandez to have a quiet day but Rob Gronkowski to be productive.

Tim Tebow, QB, DEN.  Take away the final 5:37 in the game against the Dolphins and Tebow would have done nothing.  2 touchdowns and a 2 point conversion in those final minutes allowed Tebow to have a productive fantasy day.  Things will be different this week against Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions.  The Broncos offensive line is not very good and Tebow will be facing pressure all day.  I don’t think he can escape the pressure that much this week.

Montario Hardesty.   Peyton Hillis may play this week and despite Hardesty’s 95 rushing yards last week, it took him 33 carries to do it.  He didn’t get in the endzone in an ugly game vs. the Seahawks and this week he faces the 49ers who are 2nd against the run.  Not a good matchup at all.

By Chris Bates

     Rookie running back DeMarco Murray set a Cowboy all time record when he rushed for 253 yards on 25 carries in his first career NFL start.  The game Murray had was unbelievable but it was against the league’s worse rushing defense so time will tell what he does against a better defense.  A running back controversy may be brewing in Dallas with the breakout game of Murray.  The record was 9th all time in NFL history, the must rushing yards in an NFL game is 296 set by Adrian Peterson in 2007.  Murray definitely has warranted more carries going forward.

World Series Matchup

        C.J. Wilson takes the ball for the Rangers in what is a must-win game.  Texas cannot afford to go down 3 games to 2 games heading back to St. Louis for games 6 and 7.  Wilson needs to have a great start for the Rangers, he is due.  Wilson’s best postseason game came in Game 1 in St. Louis when he allowed 2 runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched.  The Rangers still lost the game however, it is time for C.J. to show up and pitch like the pitcher he is capable of being.  A 16 game-winner in the regular season proves he certainly has the stuff to do it, it is just a matter of putting it all together.  Wilson is the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to lose an All-Star Game, league division series game, league championship game and potentially a world series game in the same season.  Wilson was the Rangers best pitcher in the regular season going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA.  In the postseason, he has been a different pitcher going 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA.  The Rangers need a big game from him tonight.

St. Louis sends to the mound there ace, Chris Carpenter.  Carpenter was wild in Game 1 but only gave up 2 earned runs on a 2 run home run to Mike Napoli.  Carpenter certainly has the stuff to shut down the Rangers but he has a tendency to get off focus, which is where he gets in trouble.  Carpenter started the season off 1-7 but finished the season strong going 10-2 to finish 11-9 in 2011.  This postseason he is 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA.  The Cardinals have the right guy on the mound to give them momentum back in the series.

Keys to the Game

     For Texas, the keys are to keep the Cardinal hitters off-balance by mixing up their pitches.  This was not the case in the Cardinals Game 3 route of the Rangers.  Most of the Ranger pitchers threw fastballs in that game and the Cardinals are a great fastball hitting team.  In Game 4, more inside pitches and pitches out of the strikeout were pitched effectively by Derek Holland.  The Cardinals do swing at pitches out of the strike zone, the Rangers certainly have pitchers that can change speeds and movements on their pitches.  Continuing to hit the ball is always a key but the Rangers have been doing a better job of that in the last 2 games, putting pressure on the Cardinals pitchers to make good pitches and not chase balls like they were doing in the first 2 games.  Continuing to get guys on and force the issue will go along way in how Game 5 turns out.

     For St. Louis, their keys to the game are continuing to make the pitches when they count.  The Cardinals have done an excellent job this season limiting the runs with runners on base.  St. Louis must continue to do this if they want to have a chance to win this game.  The Cardinals lineup has been doing an excellent job of getting runners on base and making them count, this is a thing to watch out for in Game 5.


    I see C.J. Wilson coming out and pitching the best game of the season in what could potentially be his last start in a Texas Rangers uniform.  He must establish himself to the Rangers organization as being their dominant pitcher they thought he could be when they let Cliff Lee go.  Wilson is 0-7 in his last 8 postseason starts, the Rangers have lost the last 5 postseason games Wilson has started but I see that changing tonight.  Look for Wilson and the Rangers players to seize control of the series tonight and head back to St. Louis just 1 win shy of their first ever World Series title. 

TEX: 5 STL: 3.

By Chris Bates

      One of the best games that Major League Baseball has had in a while was witnessed by millions of people around the globe.  The 2-1 victory the Texas Rangers had over St. Louis Cardinals was an instant classic type game.  It was exactly what postseason baseball is all about, great pitching and great defense.  The Rangers were 3 outs away from going back to Texas down 2 games to no games but the experience the team gained from last year’s World Series paid dividends in the ninth inning.  The Rangers scored 2 runs on 2 sacrifice flies rallying them to the win.

Game 3 Preview

      Rangers manager Ron Washington made a surprise announcement when he announced that Matt Harrison  will start Game 3 over Derek Holland.  If you look at the numbers, Harrison has been a much better pitcher than Holland this postseason.  Harrison has gone 5 innings in both of his starts this postseason, giving up 2 earned runs in each.  Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA in 185 2/3 innings pitched.  This postseason he is 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings pitched.  Holland has not gone more than 5 innings in any of his starts this postseason. 

Despite the Rangers lack of hitting so far in this series, their defense has been what has kept them in games.  There were 2 instances in last night’s game where the Cardinals could have added 1 or 2 more insurance runs after the Allen Craig pinch hit go-ahead RBI single.  Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal hit a scorching line drive up the middle that Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus snagged on one hop and flipped to second baseman Ian Kinsler for the final out of the inning, saving at least 1 run.  In the bottom of the 8th, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols hit a fly ball he thought was out but it went to the warning track where Nelson Cruz caught it right in front of the wall. Great defense.

What I think will happen in Game 3

     The Rangers have the advantage in starting pitching in Game 3.  Kyle Lohse has not been good in the postseason (0-2, 7.45 ERA).  He gave up 3 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start versus Milwaukee.  So far this series, it has been clear that both teams pitching is the strong point.  Two high-powered offenses coming into this series, both have been shut down by the opposing teams pitchers.  Colby Lewis once again continues to impress in the postseason.  He has been the Rangers best pitcher in October the last 2 seasons.  If the Rangers can get their bats going then I think it will be a long Game 3 for the Cardinals.  I don’t see St. Louis scoring more than 3 runs in this game.  I think the Rangers will score at least 4 runs and yet again there will be another close game as these are two evenly matched teams.  Game 3 is tomorrow night at 7:05 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  FOX will carry coverage of the game and it can be heard on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM locally.

By Chris Bates

     With the news that TCU is joining the Big 12 conference to replace the departure of Texas A&M to the SEC, the conference is looking to add at least two more teams.  Missouri is the latest team looking to leave the Big 12.  Reports are they are applying for admission into the SEC to become the 14th member but the SEC isn’t interested in accepting them at this time.   All indications are that Missouri will remain in the Big 12 at this time.

Who is the conference looking to add?

     Reports indicate that the Big 12 is looking at sending invitations to Louisville and West Virginia, both members of the Big East Conference.  The Big East was home to TCU for next season but the Horned Frogs paid a $5 million exit fee to join the Big 12.  The Big East has since raised their exit fee to $10 million.  In late September, the Big East and the Big 12 were talking about a possible merger with the conference to become a “superconference” but those talks have since died down.  The Big 12 has had talks about adding Air Force as a possible member but Air Force has declined the invitation citing that they are not a good fit in the conference for recruiting purposes.  Reports are that the Big 12 has been looking to add BYU  as a member for some time and the Cougars initially wanted to remain independent but are now talking to the conference again.  If BYU joins and Missouri leaves, look for Cincinatti, Louisville and West Virginia to become hot targets for invitations.  Continue to monitor this expansion closely as updates will be provided on any new invitations or departures.

What should the Big 12 do?

      In my opinion, the Big 12 should look to add 2 more schools to get a conference championship game back.  Having just 10 teams for what used to be one of the best conferences in the country is not what college football fans want to see.  If the conference is able to add West Virginia that will give the Big 12 more credibility as WVU as been a solid football team for the last 5 years.  Revenue should and will go up as more teams join the Big 12.  I think it would even be a good idea for the conference to re-explore a merger with the Big East and have a 16 team conference such as the the Pac 12 was talking about doing last year but decided it was in their best interest to not expand to 16 teams.  The current state of the Big 12 conference continues to be a topic of interest around the college football landscape.

World Series Preview!

Posted: October 18, 2011 in MLB playoffs, Texas Rangers

By Chris Bates


                    The Texas Rangers face the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series on Wednesday.  The National League Champion Cardinals are headed back to the fall classic for the 18th time, most of any National League team.  This is the 2nd consecutive trip for the Rangers.  The Rangers believe they have a better team this year than last year’s team.  The experience the Ranger players gained from last year’s postseason has been big in their run back to the fall classic this year.  The first 2 games of the series will be played in St. Louis thanks to the National League winning the All-Star Game for a 2nd straight season. 

Breaking down the teams

                Texas is led by ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz- the new Mr. October if you want to call him that.  The Rangers have the better lineup although the Cardinals had the most runs scored in the National League (762).  The Cardinals feature the game’s best hitter in Albert Pujols.  He poses a problem to not only the Rangers but all of Major League Baseball.  Pujols led the Cardinals in Home runs (37), RBI’s (99) and hits (173).  Pujols has hit at least 30 home runs in every season in his major league career so the best bet for the Rangers is to pitch carefully to him and not let Pujols beat them.  NLCS MVP David Freese is another player to watch out for.  He led the Cardinals to a 4 -2 series win over their division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers.  Freese had a breakout series and is quickly becoming a well-known name in baseball.  His 3 home runs, 9 RBI’s and .545. batting average led the Cardinals. St. Louis is a hot team right now; they got into the playoffs on the last game of the season. The Cardinals have virtually been playing playoff baseball since September 1st when they were 8.5 games out in the wild card.  This matchup features two of the best bullpens in the postseason,Texas was 1st with a 1.2 team bullpen ERA andSt. Louis was next with a 1.63 ERA.  Both teams became just the 2nd and 3rd teams ever in postseason history to win a series where their bullpen had more innings pitched than the starters.


       The key to this series, as any series in the postseason, is pitching.  Whichever team can get better pitching from their starting rotation I believe will win this series.  The Cardinals have the better starting rotation, but the Rangers have the better bullpen.  Chris Carpenter shut out the high-powered offense of the Phillies in the wild card round, in a 1-0 decisive Game 5 victory in Philadelphia.  He has fully recovered from his Tommy John Surgery of a couple of years ago.   Carpenter is the only Cardinals starter not struggling, posting a 3.71 ERA.  Game 2 starter Jaime Garcia has a 5.74 ERA in 3 starts this postseason, Edwin Jackson, who lasted just 2 innings in Sunday’s game versus the Brewers, has an ERA of 5.84 in 3 starts.  Cardinals closer Jason Motte has been outstanding this postseason, pitching 8 innings of no run baseball including 4 saves and only allowing 1 hit in those 8 innings pitched.  If the Rangers can get to the starting pitchers early, they will put pressure on the Cardinals lineup to match them in scoring.

     Texas led the American League in shutouts this year with 18.   They are led by C.J. Wilson, who has not pitched like the ace they want him to be in the postseason. Wilsonhas an 8.04 ERA in 3 games started this postseason.  He is coming off a start to the Tigers in which he allowed 6 runs in 6 innings.  The best Rangers starting pitcher this year has been Colby Lewis, who was excellent last postseason.  Lewis has a 3.86 ERA in 11 2/3 innings pitched this postseason, the rest of the Ranger starters have struggled.  Matt Harrison has a 4.22 ERA and Derek Holland has a 5.27 ERA.  The best pitching in the postseason for the Rangers comes from a guy who was hurt all season, former 17 game winner Scott Feldman.  Feldman was huge in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Tigers.  He came in for Holland after just 2 innings.  Feldman came in and pitched 4 shutout innings for the Rangers, which kept them in the game and they went on to win.  Feldman has 9 strikeouts in just 8 2/3 innings of relief baseball.  Closer Neftali Feliz has 4 saves and a 1.17 ERA allowing just 1 earned run in 7 2/3 innings this postseason.


       Both teams have great lineups.  Rangers scored 855 runs this season and have all-stars all over their lineup.  The team is batting .259 combined in the postseason with 13 home runs in 10 games played.  They have scored 55 runs in the 10 games played.  Led by Nelson Cruz, who hit a LCS record 6 home runs in the series is really seeing the ball well right now.  Cruz is hitting 7th in the lineup; a guy who had 6 home runs and 13 RBI’s in one series is hitting 7th, which shows the depth the Rangers lineup has.  Michael Young led the Rangers in 4 of 5 offensive categories this year, batting average (.338), RBI’s (106), On Base Percentage (.380) and hits (213).  The 200 hit season was the 6th of his career.  Young got off to a slow start in the playoffs but exploded in the Rangers clinching Game 6 victory for 5 RBI’s.  Look for the offensive explosion from the Rangers to continue.

       The Cardinals are batting .288 as a team with 56 runs batted in in 11 games. St. Louisis led by Albert Pujols, whom they call “Fat Albert.”  Pujols is the most feared hitter in the game as he has all the tools.  He is batting .419 in the postseason (18 for 43).  Pujols was the best Cardinals hitter in the regular season and has continued in the postseason.  David Freese leads all batters in the postseason in runs batted in with 14, one more than Cruz.  Freese got off to a hot start (as did the entire Cardinals lineup) in the LCS against Milwaukee.  The Cardinals scored 12 runs or more in 2 of the 5 games played in the series.     


Series Prediction

         The experience the Rangers have from making it to the World Series last year will show in this year’s series.  That experience coupled with being what many people think is the most complete team in baseball is the x-factor into why I think the Rangers win this series.  Both bullpens will continue to be outstanding, but I think it will be the Rangers starters that step up and give Ron Washington the quality of work he has been looking for from them this postseason.  The entire series will be close and exciting, but ultimately the Rangers come out on top. Texas in 6.

By Chris Bates

    The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to do something that no other team has done since 2006, defeat Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  Dallas had a 16-13 lead late in the 4th quarter with 2:37 remaining but once again coughed up the lead as Brady and the Pats drove down the field and scored the game winning touchdown with 29 seconds left.  The victory gave the combo of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick their 116th win together, tieing Don Shula and Dan Marino for most in NFL history.

Where does Dallas go from here?

      Despite the loss, the Cowboys are still in good shape to win the NFC East as no team is running away with the division.  The Giants lead the division at 4-2, their 8th consecutive year they have had a winning record through the first 6 games of the season.  The Cowboys have played 5 games that have been decided by a combined 16 points.  Their 3 losses by a combined 11 points with 3 fourth quarter leads to the Jets, Lions and Patriots having disappeared.  The first 5 opponents for the Cowboys have a combined record of 21-8, the remaining 11 are a combined 4-13 so it gets easier for Dallas.  This week the Cowboys face the winless St. Louis Rams who will most likely be without starting quarterback Sam Bradford who suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks ago versus the Packers.  Bradford has been in a walking boot, look for backup quarterback A.J. Feeley to get the bulk of the snaps with the first team offense in practice this week.  The Cowboys have some injury news of their own with running back Felix Jones also suffering a high ankle sprain against the Patriots.  He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.  For Cowboy fans, this is not the news they were hoping to hear.  Jones has been bitten by the injury bug numerous times since being drafted in the 1st round in 2008 out of Arkansas.  This now gives this year’s 3rd round pick out of Oklahoma, DeMarco Murray, a chance to prove that he is NFL starting running back caliber.  After this week, the Cowboys face Michael Vick and the Eagles who are coming off a bye and a division road win at Washington.

Season Prediction

      Despite the Cowboys slow start, I believe (with execution down the stretch) that they can win 11 games this season.  Making the playoffs is not out of the picture for this team.  They have the talent and are clearly better than last season.  Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has done a great job turning around this defense, taking it from the worst defense in Cowboys history to #4 in total defense going into the New England game.  Better play calling on the coaches part at the end of games and better decision making by Tony Romo will go a long way into what the Cowboys do this season.  My prediction for this season is a 10-6 record with a playoff berth.  I think the Cowboys will advance to the divisional round (2nd round) of the playoffs where they will come up just short.