The NFC East: Will the Dallas Cowboys be on Top?

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @KongFu4U

DALLAS COWBOYS

2018 Record: 10-6 (1st in the NFC East / Lost Divisional Round to LA Rams)

I don’t claim to be an expert in the NFL.  I just watch a lot of football and do a lot of sports book.  So, I try not to judge too much during the NFL Draft.  But when it came to the Cowboys in the 2019 NFL Draft, there were a lot of picks that angered fans.  Typically, general managers and head coaches have a vision that fans aren’t always privy to, making the strategy of in-process trades and draft picks at times difficult to understand.  But in the case with the Dallas Cowboys, I might have to side with the fans in that the Cowboys’ rationale may be beyond understanding. With that in mind, according to top online sports betting sites in the USA Dallas Cowboys odds for winning NFC East had dropped.

Dallas Cowboys 2019 NFL Draft Picks
ROUND PICK PLAYER POSITION
2 58 Trysten Hill DT
3 90 Conner McGovern Guard
4 128 Tony Pollard Running Back
5 158 Mike Jackson Corner Back
5 165 Joe Jackson Defensive End
6 213 Donovan Wilson Safety
7 218 Mike Weber Running Back
7 241 Jalen Jelks Edge

The area the Cowboys needed to focus on most was the offensive line, particularly in pass protection.  In 2018, quarterback Dak Prescott was the second most sacked quarterback in the league (56), behind Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.  Like the Texans, they need to protect their quarterback.  The Cowboys did re-sign OT Cameron Fleming to a 2-year deal, but only drafted one offensive linesman, G Conner McGovern with their 2nd pick in Round 3 (pick 90), doing little to infuse the O-line with new talent.

The Dallas defense was solid, but inconsistent in coverage, as they ranked 7th in yards allowed, adding 39 sacks and 14 forced fumbles, but had the 7th least interceptions in the league (9). If the Cowboys are looking to find success this season with their defense, at least they maximized their chances by using five of their seven draft picks on defensive players, including taking automatic starter DT Trysten Hill in the second round, and taking flyers on a CB and S late.  DC Rod Marinellihas already indicated that Hill will step in immediately as more than a generic three-technique DT as he will be expected to be a disruptive force up the middle, shoring up the Cowboys pass rush.

Offensively, the top producer in 2018 was Ezekiel Elliot, even with the six-game suspension.  He had the most rushing yards in the league (1,434), 6 rushing TDs, 567 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs.  With Elliot’s off the field behavior, and the potential for a hold out, a backup running back might have been needed, but taking two RBs in the draft was excessive.

Amari Cooper leads theteam in receiving yards in 9 games with 725 receiving yards and 6 TDs.  He was a needed addition to the offense last year, filing the top position at receiver, something the Cowboys had been missing since Dez Bryant was cut.  And although Cole Beasley, who had the second most receiving yards with 672 yards and 3 TDs, is currently with the Buffalo Bills, the Cowboys are sitting with a veteran talent pool including Randall Cobb, Allen Hurns and sophomore Micheal Gallup.

Dak Prescott, surprisingly, hasn’t improved over his three years.  You might think the fact that his stats have been consistent year to year doesn’t sound so bad, but consistently mediocre is not what you’re looking for in your franchise QB:

  • 2016 season – 19th overall in passing yards (3,667) and 15th overall in touchdowns (23) and 4 interceptions
  • 2017 season – 14th overall in passing yards (3,324) and 12th overall in touchdowns (22) and 13 interceptions
  • 2018 season – 15th overall in passing yards (3,885) and 16th overall in touchdowns (22) and 8 interceptions

Finally, looking at the strength of the 2018 schedule, the Cowboys played against only two teams that would have been considered Super Bowl contenders, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints.  So perhaps that 10-6 record was more a product of a soft schedule than a team on the rise.

In the 2019 season, the Cowboys have a tough schedule including some of the top Super Bowl contenders based on Las Vegas betting odds such as the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, LA Rams, Chicago Bears and, of course, two games against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite this challenging schedule, the Cowboys hope to stay on top of the NFC East and Las Vegas seems to agree.  But based on the above, I would have to disagree.

On a lighter note, at least Tony Romo is finding success off the field.

Predicted 2019 Record: 10-6

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