As fall encroaches and the intensity of summer winds down, football season has arrived. In Texas, this yearly transition to Friday night lights and Saturday morning tailgates is a tradition as sacred as any.
And with the NFL season officially underway, people are starting to ask questions and make predictions about the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texas.
RJ Ochoa, editor in chief of Blogging The Boys, an outlet dedicated to Dallas Cowboys news coverage, joined the Texas Standard to talk about what we can expect out of Texas this NFL season.
This transcript has been light edited for clarity.
Texas Standard: The NFL season officially started Thursday night with the Bills’ 31-10 win over the Rams. How are people feeling about the start of the season this year?
RJ Ochoa: I think football serves as the backdrop for so many people in their lives. It’s a game. It’s entertainment. You know, there’s generally some sort of game on when you go to a pumpkin patch, when you carve your turkey, when you’re Christmas shopping. And so it’s just just kind of a nice kickstart to what many people associate as being the overall best time of the year.
One of the issues the league’s had over the past few years, obviously, is players out with coronavirus. Is this something that we might see again this season, or is that in the rearview mirror?
I don’t think so by any means. The pandemic isn’t done, but I do think that the worst is behind us – again, contextually speaking. The NFL does have protocols in place, as does every professional sports league, in the event that somebody tests positive. And of course, there are different ramifications based on levels of vaccination status.
Whenever the Cowboys come up, it seems like every year fans say “this is our year.” Last season, the Cowboys won their division and made it to the playoffs. Right now you have the Cowboys at ninth in the power ratings, as I understand it. What should we expect from the Cowboys this season?
I think you can always expect drama, which is good for our business, actually. But, you know, I think for outsiders, the Cowboys have objectively weakened their roster for reasons that they believe to be in the overall good. And so we’re just at the point now where it’s kind of time to prove everybody wrong.
They’ve put all of the pressure on just a handful of stars: Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs – and they’re counting on that. They do play in a weak division. And so they’re counting on just a combination of things being the exception to a lot of sort of data points. And we’ll see how right they are starting Sunday night.
You have the Texans ranked much lower at 28, but as I understand it, you also think they could win their division and head to the playoffs. Explain the analysis there.
I think who they are today relative to their division, it’s difficult to kind of believe that the Texans are the best team in the AFC South, but I think they have a stable second-year quarterback in Davis Mills. I think they have a really underrated wide receiver in Brandin Cooks. And again, I think the important thing here is contextually they play in a division that is there for the taking. You can make an argument that they play in the worst division in the NFL. I don’t think it’s difficult to see the other three teams folding a little bit.
We’ve seen the Texans upset some legitimate teams. Last year, they beat the Los Angeles Chargers in full force. And the Chargers are a team that people think is going to be very good, obviously. And there’s no transitive property in that way, but we’ve seen unexpected teams show up. If winning the division is all that is required of impress, I certainly think the Texans have what it takes, a little bit more than other teams like, say, the New York Jets.
Any hot takes when it comes to predictions for this season? Is Jerry Jones going to get in the way of the Cowboys? Could the Texans make that deep playoff run?
I don’t think Jerry meddling with the Cowboys is a hot take. I think that’s pretty, pretty par for the course. You know, I have nothing Texas-centered. I think everything is pretty chalk as far as national convention is concerned for me.
But as far as Super Bowl predictions, I do have the Buffalo Bills making it. Obviously, they were impressive on Thursday, but I have them falling to the Minnesota Vikings. I’m a big believer in the Minnesota Vikings this year. Kirk Cousins is somebody who people make a lot of jokes at the expense of, but statistically, he is one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. He has a new head coach who is seemingly open to the idea of utilizing his strengths, unlike his predecessor in Mike Zimmer. And again, if you’re talking about seeing a path, there’s regression likely on the way for the Green Bay Packers. So, you know, the right kind of cards are on the table for that to happen, in my humble opinion.