The Flat: Cowboys are team to beat, not the best

Here’s how the NFL playoffs are shaking up as we watch Week 14:

As the NFL enters the final quarter of the season… 19 teams are either in or within 1 game of a playoff spot.

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Let’s take the No. 1 seeds first. The Cowboys, as I wrote in my title, are the team to beat in the league, but not the best. They’re certainly a very good, even a great, team, but when it comes playoff time there’s going to be a team that pushes up against how they play: chew the clock with smart, efficient, big runs with Ezekiel Elliot and downfield throws with Dak Prescott. As for the Patriots, they’re well-coached and QB’d, but their defense is shaky.

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The Flat: Trade deadline comes & Jamie Collins goes

As I was leaving work around 3 p.m. Tuesday, I pulled out my phone from my pocket to check if I’d missed any calls, texts or notifications. It was the usual on the first two fronts, a few family and friends reaching out, but the third was the unusual one. “BREAKING: Patriots trade Pro Bowl LB Jamie Collins to Browns for third-round compensatory pick.” My initial reaction was understandably shocked, however, once it sunk in I wasn’t surprised.

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The Flat: Can the 2016 NFL season start already?

I’ve never been the biggest NFL fan. Please, don’t mistake me for thinking it’s not an enjoyable sport to watch, it is. It’s fast-paced. It can be brutal. (Rules changes over the years have made it a softer game than it used to be.) The story lines in-season and now in the off-season, mostly negative, keep the intrigue surrounding the league constant throughout the year.

Maybe that’s why more than ever I’m so stoked for the newest season to get underway. I’m a New England Patriots fan; I have been ever since they won Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32-29, against the Carolina Panthers. (That story is best left for another post.) So I follow the team’s goings on and watch as many of their games as I can.

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