To some, the Dallas Cowboys had an underwhelming offseason. Without a pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft – which is perfectly fine as the trade of just that pick landed Amari Cooper, boosting Dak Prescott’s passer rating from 86.8 to 104.6 with Cooper on the field, per ESPN – the main focus for the Cowboys was fixing their biggest problem: depth.
The team has elite-level players in many of the most influential positions, some young enough to keep improving, others seasoned enough to be relied upon consistently all season, so the Cowboys needed to add depth across the board, which they did through the 2019 Draft.
Poised to return with much of the same cast post-Cooper trade of last season, how do the Cowboys compare to their top NFC East rivals?
Eagles Coming In Off Of A Hot Offseason
As was the case last season, the Philadelphia Eagles are set to be Dallas’ main competitors for the NFC East crown. The Eagles saw a fair amount of turnover in the offseason, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, but through some highly rated moves, as detailed by NBC Sports, Philly returns as perhaps an even stronger team in 2019.
The two biggest names to enter the Philly fold are DeSean Jackson, who brings an elite-level deep threat that he still managed to showcase in Tampa Bay with their QB carousel last season. Then there’s the superb trade for running back Jordan Howard, which the NFL reported on March 28 only cost the Eagles a sixth-round conditional 2020 pick. The Eagles were desperate for a bell cow, and now they have one who averages 4.3 yards per carry and eight touchdowns per season through three campaigns in Chicago – during which time he only missed one regular season game.
All Eyes On Dak In Dallas
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As strong as Dallas’ defense is expected to be following a 2018 which saw them rank as the 7th-best in yards allowed per game, 13th-best in passing yards allowed per game, 5th-best in rushing yards allowed per game, and 6th-best in points against per game, all eyes will be on the offense. The Cowboys’ offensive line is an almighty unit once again this season with some added depth, so it’ll be down to Dak Prescott to get off to a hot start.
Until the Cowboys traded for Cooper, they were 3-4 with 20 or fewer points scored on five occasions against mostly much weaker teams Dallas were expected to beat. Quarterback Dak Prescott has already showcased his great rapport with Cooper, and if that continues, it will help to keep defenses honest and allow the incomparable Ezekiel Elliott even more room to operate coming through the staunch offensive line. Dallas’ receiving corps also has the exciting Michael Gallup to target as well as a great complementary receiver in Randall Cobb, who spent his career being a very reliable option around top-level receivers in Green Bay.
A Close Contest For Top Of The NFC East
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It’s going to be a closely contested battle to the top of the NFC East this season, with one of the primary factors being if Eagles QB Carson Wentz can go without receiving another major injury, which have plagued him since 2015 according to 24/7 Sports. At this stage, however, the Cowboys look better equipped to clinch the NFC East again.
While the Eagles look strong, there is still an air of uncertainty around the team with how the new faces will fit in and, of course, injury concerns. The Cowboys are returning with the same core that surged them to the NFC East title last season, and as of 3 May, Betway has them as 11/10 favorites to do so again, with the Eagles marginally back at 5/4 – but the Cowboys are at 10/1 to go one step better than last season and win the NFC Conference, with Philly at 9/1.
The Cowboys will be looking for improvements across the board from their 2018 players and new additions. Cobb should work as a great complementary receiver to Cooper’s field-opening plays, and Gallup showed flashes of his playmaking ability last season and should add to his tally of 507 yards from 33 receptions for two touchdowns. Fans can also look forward to the return of Travis Frederick at center, having recovered from Guillain-Barré syndrome.
As it stands, the Dallas Cowboys look to be marginally better poised to claim the division, especially if the Prescott-Cooper combo picks up where it left off, the defense remains a stingy tyrant, and Zeke just keeps on doing Zeke things. The two meet in massive showdowns at AT&T Stadium on October 20 and at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22 which look set to have a huge impact on their divisional title hopes.