In seven days the Dallas Cowboys will take on the New York Giants in their 2019 season opener. Not only does that game mark the beginning of the regular season, but it also marks the end of the talk and speculation about how the 2019 season will go for the Dallas Cowboys. Largely because of the 7-1 run the team went on to finish the 2018 season, which featured a division title and a playoff win, the expectations have risen to heights we haven't seen around here in a long time.
The Cowboys are taking a team into 2019 that is the most talented roster they've had during Head Coach Jason Garrett's eight-years at the helm. Most observers believe this team has the talent to make a Super Bowl run and Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have put it out there all offseason and training camp that a Super Bowl is the goal.
It's rare to hear this team talk about anything other than the next practice or the next game. In years past when Garrett is asked about the expectations surrounding the team, he typically gives generic Garrett coach-speak and talks about how they need to worry about the next game or just focus on the things they can control. This year is a different kind of Garrett.
It could be that Garrett's coaching 2019 on the last year of his contract with an expectation that the Dallas Cowboys will make a serious run in the playoffs. From the top of the organization to the coaching staff, to a man, they've placed high expectations on the 2019 Dallas Cowboys and this looks like a team and a coaching staff that could make that happen.
Though there weren't many changes in the offseason to the squad, what they did change has a lot of people excited about the team's prospects this season.
Kellen Moore takes over as the offensive coordinator for Scott Linehan and everyone believes this will have a positive impact on the offense as a whole, but most importantly the passing game. Moore brings aggressive creativity to an offense that became a little too set in their ways. Moore's use of pre-snap motion, play-action passing, and a vertical passing game should make the Cowboys more aggressive on offense and help them find their way back into the top 10 offenses in the NFL.
The Cowboys return four of five starters along the offensive line, with the center position being the only difference from week one of last year to this year. Travis Frederick returns after a year-long lay off and immediately upgrades the offensive line from a skill and communication standpoint. Frederick's presence makes everything work better on the offense. Dak Prescott can trust the front of his pocket will be there when he drops back to pass and more importantly needs to step up to make a throw. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard can expect consistent excellence from the center position, which will upgrade the interior run blocking in 2019. They'll be able to get a better push in short-yardage situations with Frederick in the middle.
Another veteran who's returning after a year off is Jason Witten. Witten makes his return to the playing field after spending 2018 in the Monday Night Football booth. He may not be the explosive player he was in his prime, but he's as reliable a target as there is in the NFL. Witten still has the ability to win his matchups more often than not and gives Dak Prescott another weapon he can trust in the passing game.
Speaking of weapons, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group looks about as deep as any in the NFL. Prescott has developed a nice rapport with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. The addition of Randall Cobb and Devin Smith to a group with Tavon Austin gives the Dallas Cowboys a wide receiver group that has a ton of potential for explosive plays. Top to bottom, this is the best group of wide receivers that the Dallas Cowboys have had in a really long time.
Dak Prescott is about to be the beneficiary of the most talented offense he's had the pleasure of playing with, but the offense is going to thrive more also because of Dak Prescott's growth and development. Almost everyone who watched Prescott at training camp believes that he made significant improvements in his footwork under pressure and his deep passing ability. If he's improved those things even slightly when the Dallas Cowboys open the regular season, it makes the offense so much better moving forward.
With reports coming out yesterday that the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott have intensified negotiations with the hopes of having the NFL's leading rusher available for the start of the season, the Dallas Cowboys could have almost their entire roster available for the start of the season.
Aside from Robert Quinn and Randy Gregory who will be sitting out due to suspension, the Dallas Cowboys aren't missing any major pieces to their defense. They're bringing back pretty much everyone in their starting lineup from the end of the 2018 season. That was a defense that was one of the 10 best units in the NFL. They've upgraded the depth through free agency and the draft, and when Robert Quinn returns, the Cowboys should have one of the more feared pass-rushing duos in the NFL.
It's a defense that looks ready to take the next step. If they can create more turnovers in 2019, they'll move from being a very good group to one of the best defenses in the NFL.
They have a team that is coming into the regular season relatively healthy. While Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Amari Cooper have been dealing with injuries lately, they don't sound serious enough to keep them out of action for week one. DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, and Tyrone Crawford are working into game shape but should be ready to go when the Cowboys face the Giants next Sunday afternoon.
Though many in the national media still believe the Philadelphia Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys have a team just as capable of winning the division and making a serious run in the NFC. They're a team coming off an 8-2 finish to the season, including the playoffs, which would give any team confidence that they can make a run the next year. If the Cowboys are able to maintain a relative level of health, they'll be competitive in every game they play this season.
While the schedule looks tough, especially in the back half, there isn't a game on their schedule that isn't winnable for them. They've got all the pieces in place to play with every team in the NFL, including the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles. Though it's unlikely they'll win them all, they're a team that has what it takes to be a legit contender in the NFC.
Early in the offseason, I wrote that the Dallas Cowboys needed to take an all-in approach to the 2019 season and it looks like they're taking that approach. The trade for Robert Quinn and the signing of veteran free agents like Randall Cobb, Kerry Hyder, and Christian Covington make it evident that the Dallas Cowboys front office believes this team has what it takes to make a serious run to capture Lombardi number six. And for good reason. Though they're one of the youngest teams in the NFL, their stars have experienced a lot of success early in their careers in the regular season, they just need for that success to translate into playoff success.
Generally, I feel optimistic about the Dallas Cowboys, and at times probably more optimistic than I should be. It's far more difficult to find reasons not to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. They've got a group that's built to win a lot of games this season and I think they'll do that. The Cowboys have a team that has the talent, the depth, and the potential for talent growth to be a real force in the NFL this year. The Dallas Cowboys will go on a deep run through the playoffs this year. Because of the schedule they have in the back half of the season, they'll reach the playoffs battle-tested and ready to withstand any challenges in the NFC Playoffs.
This is a really good football team with the potential to be the NFL's best in 2019. To answer the question above, the Dallas Cowboys can win the Super Bowl in 2019. It's nearly an impossible task to predict who will win the Super Bowl unless you're picking the New England Patriots, so I won't make that sort of prediction. The first step is for the Dallas Cowboys to make the playoffs and I think they will accomplish that goal. Once they're in, they'll have as good a chance as anyone to win the Super Bowl.
But because the regular season is about to start, here's my prediction for the Dallas Cowboys. They'll go 11-5 and become the first back-to-back winner of the NFC East since 2004.