Through 10 weeks of NFL action, it hasn’t been the season the Dallas Cowboys expected it to be. Although they own a winning record at 5-4 and lead the NFC East, the team has experienced a few disappointments. They’ve only beaten one team with a winning record – the Philadelphia Eagles – and lost against one of the worst teams in the league in the New York Jets. They’re coming off of another rough loss against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday Night. The rival was one of the best in the NFC, but the way they lost it was extremely disappointing. In their last five games, they’re 2-4.
But they’ve also looked great at times. They’ve been dominant on offense on route to a winning record. Honestly, their win-loss record doesn’t truly tell the whole story. This team is better than 5-4.
Now, I’m not implying this team doesn’t deserve its losses. The Cowboys deserve all four of them. They’ve been inconsistent on defense, they’ve made poor coaching decisions and they seem absolutely unable to start a football game properly. They’re playing from behind early in games just about every week. Simply put, the Cowboys have been a faulty football team.
But if they’re able to “click” at the right time, we’re talking about an NFL team that can beat anybody in the league. That may sound like a big if, but the point is this is a pretty talented group of players that have proven to be dominant on one side of the ball; offense.
The Cowboys’ point differential is the second-best in the NFC. At +81, they’re better in this category than the Seattle Seahawks (+21) and the New Orleans Saints (+22).
This is just how much Dallas’ performance doesn’t match their record… This is every team since 2011 with a positive point differential in the first half and a +75 or greater point differential in the second half. The average record of those teams is 12-4.
The Cowboys’ offense leads the league in many categories, including offensive DVOA, calculated by Football Outsiders. Dak Prescott – despite a fair amount of haters in and outside the fan base – is having an MVP-caliber season.
Defense has been a different story. In some cases, we’ve seen them play as well as in 2018 when Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith took the NFL by surprise as one of the best defensive units in football. In 2019, things haven’t been the same. Sure, they’ve had their moments and the defensive line has improved with Michael Bennett in the lineup, but it’s been pretty inconsistent.
They haven’t been able to stop the run on a week-to-week basis. Busted coverages are a constant for Kris Richard’s unit and the Cowboys’ linebackers have been one of the biggest disappointments league-wide.
At this point in the season, it seems like if the Cowboys turn things around, it’ll be thanks to their offense and not the other way around. They should be up to the challenge with a very effective receiving group headlined by Amari Cooper and strong play from Dak Prescott at QB.
This team still has the potential to be special this season. Things haven’t gone great through nine games, but don’t be surprised if they finish the season with ten wins and a spot in the playoffs. Once they’re there, if they play like they’ve done from quarters two to four, they can be one of the best teams in the nation.
A football coach I know likes to say the NFL is nothing but a 16-point league. That number of wins is the only thing that matters in the regular season and the Cowboys haven’t been able to finish off games. They have what it takes to do so, but can they execute? More importantly, can the coaching lead them to the postseason?