With Championship Sunday set, I can't help but find extreme frustration in every remaining team — Green Bay is now in back-to-back NFC Championship games following the firing of Mike McCarthy in 2018; Tom Brady is now in his 14th Conference Championship game in his 21-year career (that's 67%!!!); Kansas City is hosting the third consecutive AFC Championship at home; and Buffalo's AFC Championship drought is broken before Dallas'. What hope exists that we won't be feeling the same way, once again, next season? — SEAN CUNNINGHAM / FARMINGTON, NY
David: I think I can offer hope by pointing out one very obvious stat — quarterback play. The Buccaneers and Packers employ two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. The Chiefs employ the best quarterback in the league right now, and the Bills employ a guy who put up MVP-caliber numbers this season. I know it wasn't reflected by the record, but I believe Dak Prescott was playing on that level before he got hurt. Obviously, nothing in this league is guaranteed. But give me 16 games of what we saw from Dak this season, and it should give them a chance to break that unfortunate streak.
Nick: Let's focus on Buffalo because they're the only team you mentioned that doesn't have a future Hall of Famer playing quarterback. And the Bills had to be pretty bad for several years to finally get to this point. That's just the nature of the NFL. They've taken advantage of some high picks, including a good, young quarterback. But they seem to have some other things working for them up there with some chemistry that you don't always see other places. I think for the Cowboys and finding hope, it starts with the fact that they're going to get the 10th pick in the draft and the 43rd. The best part there is the roster isn't bad enough to get it. I think we all know the injuries affected the team in a huge way and led to a 6-10 record. If these guys come back healthy, which they should, the offense is a group that can certainly score some points. If these draft picks, plus some free agent help – which they didn't get last year – should be able to get them in contention.
I understand Dak's contract will heavily affect how they approach free agency. I know we always hear patience from the Jones Family, but wouldn't it be in their best interest to sign Dak as soon as possible, so they can have better plan of attack for free agency? — TONY SMALLS / GLENDALE, AZ
David: I completely agree with you. We can talk all we want about Dak being the future of this team, but there's always going to be some uncertainty until a deal gets done. Not only would signing him give them a clear plan of action in free agency, it would give them some clarity about what they should do with a top 10 draft pick -- because we know those don't come around every year. Assuming they feel confident about Dak's recovery, it makes all the sense in the world to get this done sooner rather than later.
Nick: Yeah, you're not wrong. If they had done that last year, maybe the Cowboys use the franchise tag on Byron Jones or maybe Amari Cooper. And this team is sitting in a different spot this year. So yes, getting the deal done as quickly as possible should help them not only figure out a plan, but maybe have a few more dollars to spend on some guys to fix this defense.