Dallas Cowboys season preview: New faces but with same choking hazards

Dallas Cowboys season preview: New faces but with same choking hazards

Before the Eagles set off on what is sure to be a 100-year dynasty of NFC East championships, we’ll take a look at each of their divisional rivals and what they’ve got that could potentially derail the Birds' seemingly surefire destiny.

We’ll start with the Dallas Cowboys, a team whose fan base boasts Lebron James, Clayton Kershaw and your least favorite Facebook friend from high school.

Dallas Cowboys

What happened last season
Let’s just skip to the part where the Cowboys choked in the playoffs again. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott gave the Cowboys' offense a new look but an old feel, as Jerry Jones’ squad went 13-3 in the regular season (good enough for best record in the NFC) and then were beaten at home by a massively-depleted Green Bay squad … which was just fantastic, ‘cause Chris Christie’s autumn had been jolly enough.

Forbes lists the Cowboys as one of the most profitable franchises in all of sports, and they must be doing it by charging for non-refundable deposits on NFC Championship tickets. Hey-oh! Even Alex Ovechkin looks at their postseason record and starts to giggle. The characters change, but the story arc remains the same … like an episode of Scooby-Doo, but the laugh track is more realistic.

What about the offseason?
Tony Romo retired. Two-fifths of the offensive line was replaced. And the entire secondary had to be rebuilt, including (drumroll please) former cause-of-my-raised-blood-pressure Nolan Carroll! Because he’s done so well against Odell Beckham Jr. in the past, the Cowboys just couldn’t pass him up. Jones signing Carroll is like Dr. Alan Grant getting off Isla Nubar, then immediately hiring the electric-fence people to do his home security.

But the biggest story is the six-game suspension of Elliott for domestic abuse. You can read all the details of this horrible situation here. Worth noting is that while Elliott was being investigated for domestic abuse he was caught on camera sexually assaulting a woman. That’s like Donald Trump having a secret meeting with Vladimir Putin while being investigated for having secret meetings with Putin, or Anthony Weiner sending lewd photos on Twitter after leaving office in disgrace for sending lewd photos on Twitter. Really, Elliot should just retire and run for sheriff of Texas now.  

Jones, meanwhile, is defending Elliott, because of course he is. Remember two years ago when he was the only owner in football willing to pay Greg Hardy? Jones would sell his grandkids to the Dothraki if it gave the Cowboys a better chance of winning a Lombardi. Somehow, someway, he continues to give Texas oil men a bad name.

What’ll happen this season (best-case scenario)
Elliott comes back from his (potentially shortened) suspension and picks up right where he left off. The offensive line, despite two new additions, continues its freakish streak of good health. Prescott takes a step forward in his sophomore year and makes all Philly residents hate that we gave up picks for Carson Wentz. Jason Witten starts taking that Maria Sharapova drug to reverse aging. The defense overachieves again. And the Cowboys become the first NFC East team since the 2004 Iggles to win the division in back-to-back years. 

What’ll happen this season (worst-case scenario)
The suspension throws off Zeke’s entire season. The O-line, with two new dudes, becomes a problem (either due to ineffectiveness or injury or La’el Collins' inability to stop holding people). Prescott, who was an unhyped fourth-round pick just a year ago, can’t replicate his rookie season without a killer offensive line and top-shelf rushing attack, while Witten follows his buddy Romo into the sunset. Meanwhile, Christie gets kicked out of Drumthwacket and has to move in with Jones in what becomes FOX’s worst reality show ever (coming this fall!).

It seems more likely than not the Cowboys are in line for a step back this season. Sure, it doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to picture them in the postseason again this year … but imagining them winning a playoff game requires a tremendous amount of high-grade acid.

Philly won weird Super Bowl bet with Brockton, Massachusetts

Mayors of Philly/Brockton

Philly won weird Super Bowl bet with Brockton, Massachusetts

Mayor Jim Kenney doesn't seem to fully understand the concept of a sports wager.

The general rule I like to follow: if you win a bet, you GET SOMETHING OF VALUE in return.

Now, the Mayor of Philadelphia won a bet with the city of Brockton, Massachusetts, and he has to SEND THEM STUFF.

Makes no sense.

Anyway, I guess the city of Brockton now has to dress their Rocky Marciano statue up in Eagles gear. Lulz. So Mr. Kenney is shipping them some goods. I hope the people of New England had to pay for it.

As Eagles fans know all too well, the official Eagles gear is not cheap.

Did the Sixers Really Win That Game II: The Portis vs. The Process

Did the Sixers Really Win That Game II: The Portis vs. The Process

Geez, if you only watched the ends of the last two Philadelphia 76ers games, you'd think they were owed years' worth of good karma from getting perpetually screwed in the fourth quarter or something. That's right, the basketball gods may have finally approved the Sixers' line of credit: One game (and eight days) after Brett Brown's squad came back from 20-plus down to squeak one past the Miami Heat, the team again pulled out a miracle last night in Chicago, coming from five down in the final minute against the Bulls to win 116-115. 

And boy, did this one feel like a loss, too. After surging out to a 25-7 lead in the first, the Sixers quickly relinquished the majority of their lead to the Bulls, who pulled even in the third and kept the Sixers from ever running away with it. They hit an absurd 18 threes, tying a season high, and two role players posted career highs: starting wing David Nwaba (21 points on 9-14 shooting) and bench forward Bobby Portis (38 points on 15-26 shooting, including a stupefying 6-9 from three). 

Meanwhile, the Sixers went cold down the stretch; Robert Covington missed a clean look at a three, Ben Simmons missed two of two from the line, Joel Embiid dribbled the ball off his foot. When Zach LaVine hit a tough pull-up three to put Chicago up five with a minute to go, and then Cov missed an open baseline two, it almost felt a merciful end to our suffering. 

But somehow, that wasn't it. Portis shot a long two a little too quickly at the other end and missed, and Simmons put back his own miss at the other end for a quick two to cut it to three. LaVine bricked a tough jumper with 17 to go, and J.J. got fouled at the other end to prevent a possible tying three. He made both, and then good ball denial on the ensuing Chicago inbounds led to an Embiid steal and pass to Simmons, who got fouled. 

After going just 4-9 from the line to that point, Simmons calmly nailed both his free throws to put Philly up one. Embiid stonewalled a Portis attempt near the basket at the other end with seconds to go, Denzel Valentine's putback attempt missed, and the game was over, with the Philly outscoring Chicago 6-0 in the final minute to seal the W. 

It was beautiful, man. There aren't going to be many games in this life where you give up 18 threes, allow two opposing players to go for career highs, miss 14 free throws and go down five with 60 seconds to go and still somehow manage to win the damn thing. 

But there also aren't gonna be many teams in this life with a one-two punch as potent as Simmons and Embiid. The latter picked up where he left off at the All-Star Game, scoring 30 (on 11-17 shooting, including 3-3 from deep) with 13 boards, five assists, three steals and two blocks -- just a few box score tallies away from his first 5x5 game. And the former picked up where he left off before the All-Star Game, scoring a career-high 32 (13-18 shooting) to go with seven boards, 11 assists a steal and a block. And maybe most impressive of all? The two had just three turnovers between them in 69 combined minutes. 

Ben and Jo were nothing less than dominant on offense all night. They couldn't turn the faucet off on the Bulls defensively for most of the game -- though aside from a couple slow-ish rotations in the first half, I'm not even sure they played all that badly, rather just paying the three-point defense regression to the mean that Liberty Ballers writer Sean O'Connor had long been warning fans about

But in any event, Embiid finally got the best of Portis in the final minutes, shutting him down on a couple crucial possessions (including the final one), and he made the play of the night on that inbounds steal. When you have two transcendent talents -- as Embiid and Simmons undoubtedly have proven they are, even this early in their careers -- you win a lot of games you probably shouldn't, and gravity was finally on the Sixers' side tonight. 

Of course, the Sixers might not've needed such combined brilliance from their two best players if their supporting cast was able to pick up the slack a little. But no one else was really cooking for Philly last night, and as is becoming a distressingly frequent occurrence this season, Covington hit a couple shots early and then went flat for the rest of the game. Even on the Bulls broadcast, they were talking about how Cov was gonna have to hit shots in the playoffs for the Sixers to have a chance, and they're probably right: We need Rock's defense and smarts out there, but if he's gonna routinely brick open looks in big moments, he's gonna be a liability -- and he's now 6 of his last 29 from deep. 

But that's a concern for another day -- one that seems more and more likely to actually be upcoming at this point. In the meantime, Philly is 31-25, having won six in a row, and with a creampuff game coming up next at home against Orlando, before a three-game roadie against East playoff teams (Washington, Miami and Cleveland) that represents the only really tough swing remaining on the Sixers' schedule. The playoffs seem increasingly probable, and with Simmons and Embiid playing at this level, just about anything seems possible if we get there. Pity the foolish rival execs who still don't trust the process at this point.