Are we sure that Dak Prescott is a rookie? He has such a feel for the game and what play to execute at all times. In a league where game tape is dissected to the point of exhaustion, Prescott's year is going to be used (unfairly) for late-round draft picks going forward. Opposing defenses don't seem to shake him, no matter the down, distance or time remaining during a contest. I'm not the type of person to keep up with college football every Saturday but I pay attention where it's needed.
So, what am I saying?
I watched Prescott at Mississippi State University and I felt that he could start a few years into his career but this level of play is sure to cement Tony Romo's jersey switch soon after the Super Bowl is contested. Prescott's rookie season is going to be measured with some of the best rookies, at that position, in history. I liked his ability to move the pocket and attack downfield with his arm and I remember a popular comparison as he entered the NFL Draft was Tim Tebow so I don't think there were any expectations he would see the field this early. However some part of me wonders whether the Cowboys' front office was secretly doing tons of homework to stabilize the depth chart behind No. 9. All (or most) scouting departments put in the time to spotlight players to recommend to their respective franchises but it can't be a simple tale of good luck that Prescott has been this impressive. No, there were more layers to his game that were nurtured once he learned he'd be wearing that helmet with the massive star on it.
Of course the luxury of playing behind the best offensive line helps - and having an MVP candidate in fellow rookie, Ezekiel Elliott isn't to be ignored - but he's the one that has to make throws at crucial times in the game and he doesn't seem frazzled by the circus atmosphere around the team. How far are the Cowboys going?
The offense is built to run, first, and then the play-action passing game takes over from there. When Prescott launches a deep strike it's usually when he has single coverage along the boundaries and his ball-placement enables the offense to move down the field as he doesn't gift interceptions, therefore hurting the team. His play reveals a much mature quarterback than his chronological age suggests.
Dallas 20 @ Minnesota 18: I like the Vikings to make it a much tougher game than most expect. There's no avoiding the nosedive they're in the middle of when you consider how strong they looked in the first five weeks of the season but I like them to fight hard in this game. The Cowboys had some hype behind them entering the season but I doubt anyone thought they'd be resting atop the NFC East.
Sam Bradford has been maligned to such a degree that maybe all the problems aren't his fault. Where's the blocking? He's under siege the moment he leaves the parking lot to enter the facility. He isn't a perfect quarterback but he's earned a starting job in a league that always seems to be bereft of 32 quality quarterbacks.
Kansas City 23 @ Atlanta 27: I like Alex Smith and I always have but his penchant for the safe, secure, play could serve as an invisible ceiling hanging over his head - and the Chiefs' as long as he's their leader. Why am I mentioning this?
Matt Ryan has played in 137 games to Smith's 136 but has thrown for close to 10,000 yards more over the same span. Smith is going to make the smart play, the safe play, and there's nothing wrong with that. There are times that he holds the ball when thinking of going downfield for a chunk of yardage...before dumping it off. Defenses can cheat coverage tighter in the box as they rarely worry about him attacking aggressively through the air. It's something to take note of.
Detroit 40 @ New Orleans 45: The Saints find themselves with the ball last.
Los Angeles 10 @ New England 30: The strength of the Rams' defense lies in their front-seven. If your offensive line can can keep the leaks upfront to a minimum, you can put the ball in the air against their secondary. Tom Brady will do that in bunches.
Denver 16 @ Jacksonville 13: I don't even care that the Broncos are starting Paxton Lynch and the Jaguars should have an edge versus a freshman quarterback with limited game action...I don't care.
Houston 24 @ Green Bay 30: Packers?
Philadelphia 21 @ Cincinnati 23: Bengals? Team cheese steak needs a true number one receiver to slot their existing pass catchers into their natural places along the depth chart. DeSean Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent in a few months...just saying.
Miami 20 @ Baltimore 29: Ravens.
San Francisco 18 @ Chicago 10: The 49ers should be able to pick up a victory on the road. Colin Kaepernick has been playing better over the last two weeks and showing glimpses of the quarterback that was a nightmare for opposing coaches. That player might still be in there and as long as he's relatively healthy any week can be the one where he taps into his former self.
Buffalo 18 @ Oakland 23: I had to really think about how I feel about the Raiders. I stayed on the sidelines while they piled up one win after another. I was quickly impressed by their ability to win on the road but last week was a big test for them. After jumping on the Panthers, the team went cold and watched as Cam Newton was primed to put the Raiders into their very own black hole in a game the defending NFC representative of the Super Bowl had to have.
Derek Carr and the rest of the team regained control of the game - with another comeback - but showed poise, masking the youth throughout the roster. It's a positive sign when a team learns how to win but it's exponentially valuable when it's a team in its infancy dealing with the pressure on the field and finding victory. I'm in on the Raiders. I don't know their ceiling but they're young and they have time to reach it.
NY Giants 28 @ Pittsburgh 37: The Steelers remain my Super Bowl winner but I think the Giants are on the verge of working their magic as the calendar inches closer to the knockout rounds.
Washington 23 @ Arizona 18: Carson Palmer has reverted to his previous form which doesn't bode well for the Cardinals and their hopes of winning a Super Bowl this season.
Tampa Bay 14 @ San Diego 28: The Buccaneers were impressive last week in keeping the Seahawks out of the end zone but the Chargers are so aggressive that defense, alone, won't be enough for the visitors.
Carolina 20 @ Seattle 26: The Seahawks put a nail in the Panthers' season. It's time...
Indianapolis 23 @ NY Jets 17: Colts.
Last Week: 12-4
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