Despite winning only six games and falling below their projected win total of 9.5 last season, there is plenty of optimism surrounding the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the 2021 campaign. The biggest reason is the return of Dak Prescott, who was shelved for the season in the fifth game.
With Prescott getting his ankle surgically repaired the offense couldn’t keep up with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Cowboys made plenty of changes to shore up a group that allowed the most points in franchise history bringing in former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the mastermind behind the feared Legion of Boom.
Playing in what was the weakest division in football last season and making the number of changes to the roster they made, a four-win improvement isn’t out of the question. And based on last year’s results the Cowboys have a favorable schedule that puts them in line to exceed their win total of 9.5 this season.
Dallas Cowboys 2021 Regular Season Win Total Odds
Cowboys Over 9.5 Wins +115
Cowboys Under 9.5 Wins -131
(Odds provided by BookMaker.eu as of August 3, 2021)
It’s hard to imagine the Cowboys being worse defensively than they were in 2020. Only four teams in the entire league allowed more points and they were next to last against the run. In all they surrendered over 386 yards per game and opponents scored more than 30 points eight times. It’s hard to win games when the defense can’t stop anyone and that was only exacerbated by the loss of Prescott in Week 5. In the five games Prescott started the Boys averaged 32.6 points. It took them the next four games to score that many points total with Andy Dalton at the helm.
Prescott was leading the NFL in passing yards when he was injured and he has all the weapons at his disposal again. Amari Cooper finished the season with 92 catches, 1,114 receiving yards and five touchdowns and combined with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup for 225 catches, 2,892 yards and 15 touchdowns. Zeke Elliott saw his numbers decline with Prescott out and the hope is that he returns to the form of years past. He may have lost a step, but he’s still in his prime. And we should see more fireworks with an offensive line that gets two of the best tackles in the game back. La’el Collins and Tyron Smith combined to play two games last season.
With Dak running the show the offense is in good hands. It’s the other side of the football that needed work and the club addressed those concerns during a busy offseason. It started with the hire of Quinn, a respected coordinator who as head coach took Atlanta to the Super Bowl a few years ago. The Boys also grabbed defenders with their first six picks of the draft. Top pick Micah Parsons is an every down player and the group will be better if DeMarcus Lawrence returns to his quarterback hounding ways and Leighton Vander Esch stays healthy. The group doesn’t have to be great it just can’t be at the same level it was last year. And I don’t expect that to happen.
2021 Dallas Cowboys Schedule
Week 1: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday, September 9, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Week 2: at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, September 19, 4:25 p.m. ET
Week 3: vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, September 27, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Week 4: vs. Carolina Panthers, Sunday, October 3, 1 p.m. ET
Week 5: vs. New York Giants, Sunday, October 10, 4:25 p.m. ET
Week 6: at New England Patriots, Sunday, October 17, 4:25 p.m. ET
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, October 31, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Week 9: vs. Denver Broncos, Sunday, November 7, 1 p.m. ET
Week 10: vs. Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, November 14, 1 p.m. ET
Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, November 21, 4:25 p.m. ET
Week 12: vs. Las Vegas Raiders, Thursday, November 25, 4:30 p.m. ET
Week 13: at New Orleans Saints, Thursday, December 2, 8:30 p.m. ET (FOX/NFLN)
Week 14: at Washington Football Team, Sunday, December 12, 1 p.m. ET
Week 15: at New York Giants, Sunday, December 19, 1 p.m. ET
Week 16: vs. Washington Football Team, Sunday, December 26, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Week 17: vs. Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, January 2, 1 p.m. ET
Week 18: at Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, January 9, 1 p.m. ET
The NFC East was easily the worst division last year with Washington claiming the crown with a 7-9 record. Dallas made significant upgrades and gets key players back that put them as the favorite to win the division in 2021. Improving on their 2-4 record against division foes will go a long way toward them surpassing their win total. And the schedule features just three teams that produced a winning record in 2020. Of course that means nothing since those same teams are probably counting on a win over the Cowboys.
Our pick: Dallas Cowboys OVER 9.5 Wins
The potential to be one of the top offenses in the NFL is there. Prescott has developed into one of the top QBs and we saw how his absence affected the club last year. The offensive line can be one of the best with a successful return of Smith and Collins and the top pass catchers are all back. Just a slight improvement on the defensive side will be enough for the Cowboys to win double digits making a winner of OVER bettors on the projected win total.