5 reasons the Dallas Cowboys are Super Bowl contenders LVI
As one of the most popular football teams, the Dallas Cowboys are commonly referred to as Team America. Despite winning the NFC East Division seven times, the US team has yet to make it past the divisional round since its last Super Bowl victory in 1995. During that time, the Cowboys did won only four playoff victories.
When you create the gargantuan next Cowboys, the expectations are always high. Playing in one of the greatest football stadiums of all time, the Cowboys have a knack for attracting attention. Getting featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks for the third time is a prime example of how the “Boys” seem drawn to the spotlight.
Last season provided a glimpse of a dominant offense before Dak Prescott went down for the year. It also highlighted many of the flaws in the Dallas defense. Watching the NFC East Division run down the stretch was undoubtedly frustrating for Cowboys fans on the road.
With their star quarterback returning from injury, the Cowboys should be able to do much better if a similar division run ensues. In fact, I’d say the Cowboys are a strong Super Bowl LVI contender, here’s why.
1. Dak Prescott’s return gives Cowboys top five offensives
Of the five games played by Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys have scored 31 or more points in four of them. The only one where Dallas scored just 17 goals came against the NFL’s second best defense in Week 1.
Prescott averaged 371.2 passing yards per game, leading the NFL at the time of his injury. The week before he got hurt, Dak was on the pace to throw for more yards than any other player in NFL history. He was the first choice for MVP, but his unfortunate injury ruined what could have been a historic year.
In 2019, when the Cowboys were healthier on offense, Dak threw for almost 5,000 yards and Zeke had over 1,700 yards of scrimmage. This offensive explosion gave the Cowboys the sixth best offense in the NFL.
The Cowboys have since added CeeDee Lamb, who could quickly become their top receiver. If they can avoid the injury bug in Dallas, the Cowboys could easily give four different offensive players 1,000 yards.
At the end of the day, if you can score more than your opponent, you win. That’s the game. In 2021, the Dallas Cowboys have the potential to score more points than any other team, but for them, it all starts up front.
2. O-Line is still going strong in the Big D
With the offensive line decimated by injuries and Prescott missing 11 games, Ezekiel Elliott and the remaining offense have seen a year of decline.
Dallas has had Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins maintaining the O line since 2015, forming an elite squad. In 2020, the talented trio missed 36 games combined, or in other words, they only played 12 of 48 possible combined games.
While all three should be in full health heading into training camp, the Dallas line should return to dominance.
The last time we saw Collins play was in 2019 when he was snubbed for the Pro Bowl. With the return of the Cowboys’ top linemen, Zeke Elliott should be able to run over 1,300 yards again.
As PFF pointed out, the Cowboys finished 2020 in 27th place in their OL standings. At the start of the 2021 season, they place Dallas in sixth place. As long as they hold up in the trenches, putting big numbers on the scoreboard will once again be second nature to the Dallas Cowboys.
3. Dallas D will exceed expectations
At the start of the offseason, Jerry Jones knew things had to change in the Big D. Defensively, Dallas was the fifth-worst in the NFL, allowing 29.6 points per game. After changing coordinators, the Dallas front office wanted to provide Dan Quinn with new talents. When the draft arrived, the Cowboys’ top six caps were all defensemen.
In the trenches, the Cowboys have two above average rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Previously a force, linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have both regressed in the past two seasons. Newcomer Micah Parsons was billed as the top defenseman in the draft.
With the ability to play side-to-side, if Parsons can live up to his high rookie expectations, Dallas linebacker unit could become a force again.
The health of Vander Esch and Jaylon will influence their success and high school still has a lot of questions, but at least Dallas has the right coaches and players in place to start the year.
4. The supervisory staff have a lot of experience
Dallas’s defense last season was atrocious. Even with a healthy year of its stars, the inefficiencies would likely have kept the Cowboys from doing a lot of playoff damage. After struggling defensively, Jerry Jones went from Mike Nolan to Dan Quinn.
Quinn, who rose to prominence during his playing days with the Seahawks during the Legion of Boom era, brings a lot of experience and expertise. In Seattle, Quinn became a Super Bowl winner as a defensive coordinator. In Atlanta, the Quinn Falcons lost to Tom Brady in one of the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history.
Now he has another chance to knock down a terribly bad defense. With fewer responsibilities ranging from head coach to D coordinator, Quinn can focus on what made him a top candidate as a coach.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy has extensive playoff experience with the Packers. Meanwhile, McCarthy’s teams have reached the playoffs nine times and won a Super Bowl. He has learned from some of his past mistakes and now has a strong staff to reduce stress. Now realigned with a young superstar quarterback, McCarthy could be back on the same path.
5. The Dallas Cowboys have the best team in NFC East
In the NFL, things tend to start from the top. Looking at quarterback situations around the NFC East, the Cowboys certainly have the best signalman. In Washington, the starter of the season has not yet been announced. In Philadelphia, their starting QB was benched in the last game of the season. The New York starter has the most turnovers by an NFL quarterback since 2019.
Last year, 7-9 was good enough to win the division. Even with their best injured player in 11 games, the Cowboys went 6-10. With Prescott having a full season, there’s no way the Cowboys will end with a worse record than last year.
By winning the division crown, the Cowboys could give themselves a better chance of having home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Since the construction of the AT&T Stadium in 2009, the Cowboys are 3-1 at home in the playoffs.
A strong record led by a dominant offense and improved defense could be enough for the Dallas Cowboys to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 25 years. If the stars align, Jerry World will be on.
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