America’s team have the second easiest schedule behind division rival Philadelphia. Expectations are high in Arlington for a bounce-back season.
With the NFL preseason now over, all attention turns to week one.
For once the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest troubles aren’t on-field but rather off the field in regards to keeping a hold of its stars who are seeking new contracts. Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper headline the players who want new and improved deals.
As a Cowboys fan, there were mixed feelings about last season. Sitting at 3-5 and seemingly down and out, Dallas traded their first-round pick to the Raiders in exchange for Amari Cooper to help reignite their season and boy oh boy, did it ever. The chemistry between Cooper and Prescott was there almost there instantly and the offence transformed.
With a true number one receiver opposing defences simply could not put eight in the box to stop Zeke, they had to account for Cooper now too. The offence basically operated by two things: if teams stacked the box that would leave Cooper in single coverage, and being a great receiver he wins most of the time one on one.
But if they dropped a safety back to help cover, Elliot would simply run wild with space that had been left.
It’s this offensive transformation along with what can now be described as a very good young defence (led by Kris Richard) that is capable of getting turnovers that has most Cowboy fans excited for the upcoming season and how deep into the playoffs they can go. With Zeke’s holdout still ongoing, Tony Pollard has starred in the preseason and gives hope that if Zeke’s holdout continues into the season, Pollard along with Alfred Morris can fill the void until Elliot gets back, if he ever does.
From the outside, most people would agree that the Cowboys should win their first three games at home to the Giants, away to the Redskins and home to Miami to start 3-0 possibly without Elliot. From there the games get much more tricky: at the Saints, home to the Packers, at the Jets, at the Patriots, at the Bears and the Rams present a tough schedule for the rest of the season, not to mention two games against the Eagles.
Getting off to a strong start is crucial for the Cowboys.
After going through the Cowboys’ entire schedule I see them finishing 12-4 for the year, possibly 11-5 with losses to the Saints, Bears, Patriots, Rams and perhaps away to the Eagles, but for me a lot of it depends on whether the Cowboys and Elliot can come to terms on a new contract before the holdout continues into the season.
All the pieces are there: a superb young defence lead my Demarcus Lawrence, Jaylon Smith and The Wolf Hunter, a healthier offensive line with the return of centre Travis Frederick, the addition of wideout Randall Cobb who can play outside as well as in the slot, Amari Cooper with a full offseason behind him, not to mention veteran Jason Witten as the perfect security blanket for Prescott.
With Prescott another year into his craft, the ‘Boys are poised to do some real damage this season, but one thing threatens to derail everything: Elliot’s contract standoff.
All Cowboys fans are hoping against hope this isn’t another Emmitt Smith scenario, Dallas doesn’t start 0-2 and that Elliott gets his money before any damage is done to what has the potential to be a special season for America’s Team.