The Dallas Cowboys looked like a good Super Bowl bet in 2020, but we all know what happened. Dak Prescott went down with an injury, the defense, bad as it already was, stumbled, and the Cowboys limped to a 6-10 record.
You can sum their season up like a friend of mine did after the Cowboys lost to the Arizona Cardinals in front of a national audience, their statement being, “that guy (Kyler Murray) completed 9 out of 24 passes and they (the Cowboys) still gave up 38 points.”
So if you bet on the Dallas Cowboys last season to win their first Super Bowl since 1995, was it really a bad bet?
Hey, everyone and Jerry Jones thought Mike McCarthy was the missing link. Turns out, the Cowboys had a few more.
So are they a good bet for 2021?
Let’s find out.
Dallas Cowboys Offseason
The Dallas Cowboys had one goal in mind: They needed to improve the defense, which believe it or not, ranked 23rd in 2020. They also ranked 11th in passing defense. Okay, so that doesn’t look terrible. Then why are we talking about the defense being so bad?
For one, the Cowboys ranked 31st in rushing defense. That said, opponents simply passed little and ran a lot. They ended up allowing nearly 160 yards per game on the ground. Plus, they allowed 29.6 points per game, which ranked 28th in the NFL.
Tack on just 10 interceptions which ranked 23rd, plus a negative turnover differential, and you can see why the team drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons in the first round.
They also signed Damontae Kazee, Jayron Kearse, Tarrell Basham, Keanu Neal, Brent Urban, and Carlos Watkins to boost the D.
If we flip over to offense, quarterback Dak Prescott appears to be fully rehabbed and ready to go. We don’t need to go into detail regarding his Week 5 ankle injury. But may I remind you that Prescott was putting up video game numbers before his injury, having thrown for 1,856 yards over 4.5 games.
Do the math, and he was on pace to throw for over 6,500 yards in 2020. Video game numbers? It was almost like the defense shifted to rookie mode in the Madden NFL Series every time Prescott took the field. If he’s the same player he was in 2020, look out.
But is it enough for the Cowboys to become a good Super Bowl bet?
Let’s look closer at the rest of the offense.
Dallas Cowboys Offense
While Prescott was having a legendary outing until his season-ending injury, Ezekiel Elliott was experiencing the opposite. For the first time since 2017, Elliott failed to eclipse 1,000 yards, but remember the only reason he didn’t then stem from a 6-game suspension.
Elliott averaged just 65.2 rushing yards per game in 2020, and odds are, age is starting to get to him. Yes, he’s still in his mid-20s, but running backs age faster than most since they often take the highest number of hits.
If that’s the case, look for Tony Pollard, who has played an outstanding role as an RB2, to get more touches. Pollard averaged 4.3 yards per carry in 2020 and he scored 4 touchdowns.
Hey, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Michael Gallup make for an outstanding group of pass-catchers. Cooper logged 92 receptions and Lamb, 74. And again, they did this without Prescott playing the final 11 games.
The Cowboys finally landed a legit tight end in Schultz. But what’s scary is that he may remain the TE2 since last year’s projected starter Blake Jarwin is slated to return from missing all of 2020 with a torn ACL.
Lamb logged 74 receptions and 935 yards as a rookie. Expect his production to explode with Prescott returning. Then there’s Gallup, who as a fourth option in the passing game, still had 59 receptions for 843 yards.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 22, 2020
The offensive line was another reason the Cowboys stumbled in 2020. But if they remain healthy, expect the Great Wall of Dallas to return. Okay, perhaps not so much as emulating the unit of the 1990s, which is where the nickname originated, but they’ll be close.
Last year, center Tyler Bladasz was a rookie and he looked like one at times. La’el Collins missed the entire season. Zack Martin missed 6 games with a leg injury, and Tyron Smith missed 14 games. Only Connor Williams started in all 16 games for Dallas in 2020.
Dallas Cowboys Defense and Special Teams
As mentioned, the defense was the Dallas Cowboys bane in 2020. But, they wasted no time in setting things right when they axed Mike Nolan and hired Dan Quinn. Ironically, Quinn was the man in charge for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2, when they blew a 29-point lead to the Cowboys.
Despite Quinn’s ability to lose heartbreaking contests in the most laughable ways out there as a head coach, he’s a talented defensive coordinator. Odds are, he also serves as an immediate upgrade over Nolan.
Plus, the Cowboys should finally see their bookend edge rushers become the dynamic duo they once were. DeMarcus Lawrence has struggled to put up double-digit sacks in recent memory. But with Randy Gregory returning with a full offseason behind him, it may propel Lawrence to once again become a dominant player.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 30, 2021
If you’re considering a bet on the Cowboys, you should rave about their linebacking unit. Micah Parsons replaces the recently-retired and oft-injured Sean Lee. If Parsons stays healthy, something Lee could not do, expect him to provide an immediate upgrade in run support.
Ditto for Leighton Vander Esch, who has also had injury issues over the past 2 seasons. Vander Esch missed 6 games with injuries in 2020, but he’s an effective player when healthy, having logged 73 tackles in those 10 starts.
Jaylon Smith continues to dominate, having led the team in tackles with 160. Look for him to become an even greater domineering force with the Cowboys with Vander Esch returning and Parsons arriving.
We also cannot forget about the recently-signed Keanu Neal, who played safety before switching to linebacker. He’ll receive ample playing time since he’s familiar with Quinn’s system.
Trevon Diggs will make The Leap to become one of the best CB1’s in football. If rookie Kelvin Joseph mimics Diggs’ success, he’ll become the team’s CB2 for at least the next half-decade.
Safety and depth at corner remain issues for the Cowboys. So if you’re considering a bet, keep an eye on the development at the 2 positions.
As for kicker, the Cowboys will bring back Greg Zuerlein. He boasts a powerful leg, but spotty accuracy. And at punter, expect the well-traveled journeyman Bryan Anger to win the job.
Are the Cowboys a Good Super Bowl Bet?
The Dallas Cowboys look better on paper in 2021. And on paper alone, they look like a viable Super Bowl bet. However, they also face tougher competition within their own division, and this means they may not even make it to the playoffs if the Washington Football Team boasts a better record.
Looking at the 2 teams, Washington has a more complete roster and just as accomplished of a head coach. Okay, Ron Rivera has yet to lift a Lombardi, but he’s been close. And McCarthy has done what exactly since 2010?
One reason it’s pertinent that the Cowboys win the division to become a good Super Bowl bet rests with the NFC West, where all 4 teams look poised to make a playoff run. And if they hold the tiebreakers, it could keep the Cowboys out of the running.
So, the Cowboys are really only a decent Super Bowl bet if you believe they’re going to win the NFC East. It will come down to either them or Washington with the Philadelphia Eagles rebuilding and the New York Giants still struggling at quarterback.
If you feel Washington will take the division, then steer clear of the Cowboys. But if you feel the Cowboys will win the East, they make for a much better Super Bowl bet if you do not already have another team in mind.
The Dallas Cowboys had a poor season in 2020, but with bad defensive play-calling plus an injury bug, it doomed them from Week 2 and onward. They actually didn’t look too bad in Week 1.
This season, the Cowboys have a new coordinator, new players on defense, plus their franchise quarterback returning. So they look like the talented team we all thought they were back in 2020.
But are they a good Super Bowl bet?
Hey, if you see them winning the division and you think they boast more talent than the other contenders, they’re a decent call.
What are your thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys? Would you bet on them to win the Super Bowl in 2021? Let us know in the comments.