The Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders (for real this time… seriously)

Look, I get it. All of us roll our eyes with regards to anybody saying the Dallas Cowboys are for actual. 12 months after yr America’s Workforce is hyped to the moon on the first signal of success, solely to falter and change into the NFL equal of the boy who cried wolf.

We’ve been conditioned to hate the hype. The Cowboys are a distillate of capitalism within the NFL. A group that will get probably the most primetime video games due to scores, though we’re instructed nationwide video games are earned. A company whose 8-8 quarterback will garner extra dialogue on TV and radio than an MVP candidate. It pulls again the veneer of artifice on the NFL that all the pieces is about sport. We like to faux it exists, and turns all the pieces into one thing transactional — and that’s why it feels so disingenuous when folks usually say “that is the yr,” as a result of deep down we all know there’s somebody pulling the strings to earn money off America’s Richest Workforce.

This yr it’s totally different. It actually, actually is. We would solely have a two sport pattern to go off, however all the pieces factors to those 2023 Cowboys being the actual deal.

It’s about a lot greater than the Giants and Jets, who fairly hapless franchises at this level within the season. The place Dallas is basically shining is the power to dominate back-to-back video games in divergent methods, with out displaying a weak spot in any of the three phases.

Towards the Giants this got here within the type of a balanced offense, as a result of actually they didn’t must work very arduous to get the win. Within the sport on Sunday vs. the Jets the Cowboys offense used the ever-present menace of Tony Pollard to open up the cross sport, and regardless of dealing with one of many NFL’s finest cross defenses they nonetheless managed to select it aside. There was an assumed hangover that might come from transitioning away from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, however up to now Dallas seems to be much more harmful with Brian Schottenheimer on the helm, who has impressively orchestrated back-to-back performances.

All of this can be a moot level with out the Cowboys’ protection, which is frankly terrifying. Outdoors of some Garrett Wilson magic on Sunday the group hasn’t given up an enormous play in both sport. The cross rush is so unbelievable that it’s masking the minor deficiencies within the secondary. Two weeks in a row this unit is up to now forward of NFL averages throughout all 4 rushers that the result’s staggering.

Once you see this degree of stress on common distance from QB and it’s coming from all 4 rushers it’s simple to put in writing it off as offensive line failure, however in back-to-back weeks we’ve a protection that has made two above-average safety models appear like school groups.

Micah Parsons particularly is enjoying at such a ludicrously excessive degree that he needs to be schemed in opposition to on each down. That is taking place, and he’s nonetheless consuming quarterbacks stay — whereas the remainder of the road are feasting too.

Yearly the Cowboys have been hyped you’ll be able to level to a transparent motive why this received’t final. That is the primary the place it appears like Dallas is actually head and shoulders above the remainder of the NFC proper now, and actually they is perhaps probably the most full group within the NFL proper now. You actually must nitpick to seek out an issue with this group.

We’ll study extra in three weeks when the Cowboys face the 49ers, however for now this group is rolling.

Winner: Josh Allen

Now THAT’s the way you reply to criticism. All week Allen was beating himself up for the additional time loss to the Jets, and for good trigger on an uncharacteristic mistake-filled evening. Needing to rebound, Allen made a press release in entrance of the Buffalo residence crowd and the poor Raiders had been the main focus of his rage.

Las Vegas don’t have an ideal secondary, however they do have an excellent cross rush — which didn’t make a lot of an impression in opposition to Allen when he was within the zone. The Payments’ QB performed a damn-near good sport as he discovered 9 totally different receivers and dominated each degree.

The Payments are again on monitor, and so they’re able to now make a run at 2023 in earnest.

Loser: Brandon Staley

The Chargers head coach is definitely the odds-on favourite to be the primary coach fired this season, and rightfully so. This group is woefully underperforming on protection proper now, and there’s no one left to throw below the bus.

An in depth loss to the Dolphins in a shootout you’ll be able to overlook for per week. Getting crushed in one other shootout, this time in opposition to the Titans is sort of unforgivable. Offensively the group is enjoying good soccer, however they’re permitting so many large performs that it doesn’t matter anymore.

Staley has change into all speak and no motion. The chance right here is important, because the group wants to make sure Justin Herbert doesn’t endure the identical destiny as Philip Rivers, losing his unbelievable expertise on a group that may’t get its shit collectively to compete.

Winner: The … Buccaneers?!

The shock right here is warranted. In back-to-back weeks this group rolled two NFC North groups that individuals would have pegged to be simple winners pre-season.

No matter is within the water in Tampa, it’s working.

We knew the sturdy factors of this groups within the receiving sport and their defensive standouts. The wild a part of all that is simply how rattling good Baker Mayfield has been at operating this offense. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin he’s discovered nice rapport, and it’s slightly too early for the hype to get too sturdy behind Baker at QB, however rattling if there isn’t an air of Geno Smith’s turnaround in Seattle taking place right here.

When you instructed me after two weeks that the NFC South can be 5-1 (the Saints and Panthers play tonight) whereas the NFC North can be 2-6 it will have been unattainable to consider. But, right here we’re.

Tampa is perhaps a group to observe for the remainder of this season, as a result of they’re on hearth.

Loser: The Texans’ cross protection

I believe everybody was ludicrously hyped when Anthony Richardson rocked up on Sunday and appeared just like the second coming. The No. 4 decide within the 2023 NFL Draft was 6-of-10 for 56 yards previous to being dominated out because of the concussion protocol — passing numbers any fan can be thrilled with.

Then Gardner Minshew stepped in and ate Houston alive, ending the sport 19-of-23 for 171 yards and a landing.

It doesn’t wholly diminish what Richardson did on Sunday, nevertheless it definitely tints these rose-colored glasses. The reality is that the Texans are actually, actually, horrifically dangerous at stopping the cross. In Week 1 the group gave up a meager 169 yards to Lamar Jackson, seemingly having a strong protection — however that evaporated in Week 2 as they allowed 227 environment friendly yards by means of the air en path to a 31-20 loss.

We have to pump the brakes on the Anthony Richardson hype practice for yet another week. In the meantime it’s not all dangerous information for the Texans as a result of …

Winner: C.J. Stroud

That is nonetheless effectively inside pattern measurement territory, however there ought to be extra hype behind what C.J. Stroud is doing at quarterback. What we’ve discovered over the past two weeks is that it’s brutally tough to throw for over 300 yards in opposition to the NFL’s new defacto two-high protection, and in two video games he’s thrown for 626 yards, finishing over 63 % of his passes, and tossing two touchdowns.

There’s undoubtedly components to work on. Have a look at Stroud’s scatter chart from Sunday.

The Texans are doing a superb job ensuring Stroud builds confidence within the offense. He’s not requested to do an ideal deal when it comes to airing out the ball, and it’s paying large dividends. Lengthy-term we wish to see that scatter chart be much less right-field heavy, as a result of it’s clear proper now that the rookie isn’t fairly snug scanning the sphere and discovering positive aspects on his blind facet.

Nonetheless, that is actually strong work for Stroud’s second week within the NFL. Texans followers have each proper to be hyped.

Loser: Russell Wilson

I don’t know if Russ is cooked, however he’s rattling certain simmering. Look, there wasn’t something functionally that unsuitable with Wilson’s sport on Sunday, however the Broncos aren’t paying $242.5M over 5 years for “not functionally unsuitable.”

The Commanders are an excellent defensive group, however the excuses are gone at this level. Denver mortgaged their whole future to land a franchise quarterback who simply received crushed by a group with Sam Howell at quarterback, a fifth spherical draft decide making SIXTY instances much less cash.

A season to get used to Denver wasn’t the reply. Getting a brand new offensive line wasn’t the reply. Sean Payton wasn’t the reply. Who cares in case your passer score is over 100 if the one respectable offense you’ll be able to generate are deep passes on busted protection to Marvin Mims Jr.

Sure, this got here all the way down to the 2 level conversion and a questionable non-call on cross interference. It received so far due to dumb luck on a bizarre Hail Mary that ought to have been batted down. The Commanders had been in a position to come again within the first place as a result of Russ couldn’t adapt when Washington took away the deep cross.

The Broncos at the moment are 0-2. This group is damaged. There are 1,000,000 methods they may get higher, nevertheless it’s tough when a lot of your cap is being dedicated to a QB who simply can’t get the job carried out.