2017 was plagued the entire season on whether or not Ezekiel Elliott would be suspended or not. Jason Garrett and the ‘Boys will look for a return to the playoffs with virtually the same roster as last year.
NFC EAST DIVISION WINNERS: +350 (Bovada)
NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: +1200 (Bovada)
SUPER BOWL 53 CHAMPIONS: +2500 (Bovada)
Team Win Total: O/U 8.5 (Westgate)
Week 1 @ Carolina (+2.5) Week 9 vs. Tennessee (-3.5)
Week 2 vs. New York (Giants) (-6) Week 10 @ Philadelphia (+5.5)
Week 3 @ Seattle (+1.5) Week 11 @ Atlanta (+3)
Week 4 vs. Detriot (-4) Week 12 vs. Washington (-6)
Week 5 @ Houston (+3) Week 13 vs. New Orleans (-1.5)
Week 6 vs. Jacksonville (-1) Week 14 vs. Philadelphia (PK)
Week 7 @ Washington (-1) Week 15 @ Indianapolis (-3)
Week 8 BYE WEEK Week 16 vs. Tampa Bay (-6)
Week 17 @ New York (Giants) (N/A)
The scheduling gods did not do the Cowboys any favors this year. So extremely tough road test this season early on could have Dallas looking from the outside of the playoff picture quickly. Week 1 at Carolina against a retooled Panthers is a heck of a way to start the year. In Seattle week 3 will be a rough test even with a down year for the Hawks. Week 5 against the instate rivals will be a battle of the young quarterbacks. The beginning of the second half will be back-to-back weeks on the road against the Eagles and the Falcons. The Cowboys will have a three game home stretch following but two of the three teams won their divisions last year.
Key Team Additions and Subtractions
Additions – WR Allen Hurns, DE Kony Ealy, ATH Tavon Austin
Subtractions – TE Jason Witten, WR Dez Bryant, RB Alfred Morris
Draft – LB Leighton Vander Esch, OT Connor Willams, WR Michael Gallup, DE Dorance Armstrong Jr., TE Dalton Schultz, QB Max White, LB Chris Covington, and WR Cedrick Wilson
Dallas is going to rely heavily on their top tier offensive line, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will finally be able to put Zeke’s suspension talk behind them and have a full year of production. Dak Prescott took a step back in almost all categories in his sophomore year. Dallas will need him to be a productive for them to be a playoff contender.
Ezekiel took the league by storm and really hasn’t looked back since. Even with him being out for six games last year he was top ten in rushing yards (983). He will see a heavy workload and try and eclipse his rookie year. With a good line to open up huge holes he should again be one of the top backs in the league. Bo Scarbough is a nice draftee pickup for the Boys to pair with Elliott.
Losing their number one wide receiver (Dez Bryant) may hurt a little in the passing game. However, losing their tight end and Hall of Famer in Jason Witten on the field and in the locker room will be an even bigger blow. Allen Hurns will likely slot as their new number one option. If he can get back to his early days, he may be a nice target for Dak. Cole Beasley should continue to be a productive slot receiver as well. Gallup was projected between the first and 3rd round on most mock draft. The Cowboys may have stole a nice pick up in the middle rounds with his size and speed.
The offensive line is going to be a unit. This group is rock solid. Zach Martin, Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith were all Pro Bowl selections. La’el Collins started all 16 games for Dallas and draftee Connor Williams should slide easily into the other guard spot. This group could all get Pro Bowl/All Pro honors this year.
The front line should be around the middle of the pack in terms of sacks again this season. DeMarcus Lawrence is a freak athlete and has 49 sacks in his four year career. If Kony Ealy can make an impact this group should be better than average.
The Cowboys linebacking core will be the defense’s driving force. Sean Lee is one of the best outside linebackers in the game and will be surrounded by first round pick Thad Castle (Leighton Vander Esch) and Jaylon Smith. Both young and motivated to help this team succeed.
The secondary will could still use a free agent or trade in the safety spot. But currently Byron Jones will move back to the a corner spot while Chidobe Awuzie and Joudan Lewis will battle for the number two cornerback vacancy. Xavier Woods is a nice complimentary piece but he isn’t what you want starting for a playoff team.
Dan Bailey wasn’t as efficient as seasons past. He also had a groin injury and missed a few games. Tavon Austin is an electric positionless player but gives his team something special in the return game. Traded over from the Los Angeles, Austin should give the Cowboys an exciting player to watch.
Dallas is looking like a playoff contender, more a wild card and less like a division winner. However, the NFC has so many teams that are in the same seat as the Cowboys. The offense should be rushing a ton of plays and burning the clock. While the defense should be able to manage the run, they may be exposed in the passing game. Unless they can find some help in the secondary and a tight end emerges, these issues may keep the ‘Boys out of the playoffs.
Lean Under 8.5
Under 8 wins seems like the best of the lines. The schedule is not in favor of the Cowboys. Many of their home games are not favorable match-ups and it doesn’t seem like they will steal more than a win or two on the road. This team really is missing some important pieces. 7-9 or 8-8 seasons are very likely outcomes here.
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