Heading into the new NFL season the Dallas Cowboys have the third-ranked offence in the league. After the statistical highs Dak Prescott and co achieved last season, it is easy to see why.
The NFL on Friday dropped the schedule for the 2019-20 season, and if we in fact start in time, a tantalising opening week awaits us.
Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens host Baker Mayfield and the Browns, Aaron Rodgers travels to Minnesota to take on the Vikings, No. 6 draft pick Justin Herbert takes on No. 1 pick Joe Burrow and his Bengals, Tom Brady and his Bucs face Drew Brees and the Saints in what is probably game of the week, and my Dallas Cowboys take on the LA Rams in their new stadium.
There will be plenty of must-watch match-ups this season, especially with the Cowboys looking to rebound from an up and down year, so let’s have a look at how Dak Prescott and co could fare.
With new head coach Mike McCarthy and a number of new defensive changes – with Mike Nolan as new defensive co-ordinator and Jim Tomsula as the new defensive line coach – this could be a very different Dallas Cowboys compared to previous years.
Looking at the Cowboys’ opening month of football, there are winnable games: away to the Rams, home to Matt Ryan and the Falcons, away to the Seahawks and home to the Browns. I have Dallas going 3-1 to, with their only loss to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Cowboys are a good chance to go to LA without Todd Gurley and come away with the win, and they are a better overall team than the Falcons and the Browns and will likely be favourites in those games.
Their home game against Cleveland starts a run of three consecutive home games at Jerry World, where they welcome the Browns, Giants and Cardinals before an away trip to Washington. That’s followed by another away trip to division rival Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles before hosting Big Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers as they head to the midseason bye.
I see the Cowboys going 3-1, losing to the Eagles in what is always a tough place to play football and getting victories over New York, Arizona and Washington. As Dallas heads into their bye in Week 10 they will sit comfortably at 7-2 before a much harder second half of the season.
In the second half of the season the Cowboys will be severely tested. They’ll come up against some of the big boys in the league, notably the Ravens and 49ers. They travel to Minnesota to face Kirk Cousins and the Vikings and play the Redskins at home before consecutive away trips to Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Looking at these four games, Dallas will go 2-2, losing to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens as well as the Vikings but recording victories over the Redskins and the Bengals. With only three games remaining in the season I have the Cowboys sitting at 9-4.
Dallas face the 49ers and Eagles at home before travelling to New York to face Daniel Jones and the Giants to end the season. The Cowboys go 3-0 over these three games but could quite easily lose to both the 49ers and Eagles, but seeing as both are at Jerry World, I give them the edge. This has the Cowboys going 12-4 and back to the play-offs.
That’s my take on the Cowboys 2019-20 season. Much of it will depend on how Mike McCarthy coaches his side. Does he let Kellen Moore have complete control of the offence? Or does he take the reins during certain points in games? Will the offence be pass-friendly or moulded to suit the run game for Ezekiel Elliott? How does the defence play with a new coordinator and line coach?
But perhaps the biggest question that needs to be asked is: who will be playing under centre come Game 1, Dak Prescott or Andy Dalton? Surely it must be Prescott if the Cowboys are really going to challenge for the post-season.
The 2020-21 season is crucial for Dallas to bounce back after a disappointing performance last season, but getting Dak’s contract sorted out before play starts is a non-negotiable for Jerry Jones. Andy Dalton simply should not be the starter come Week 1. If he is, then boy oh boy what a headline that will be.