On paper, this Dallas Cowboys team and coaching staff looks to be one of the better ones they’ve had in the past decade. Unfortunately, the paper won’t win many football games. But for now, that’s all we have to talk about.
Yesterday, ESPN analytics guru Seth Walder released ESPN’s 2020 projections based on their Football Power Index or FPI. FPI takes recent performance through the lens of EPA per play and takes into account the preseason expectations that Vegas has set on individual money lines on games during the season. They also assign value to extra rest, altitude, distance traveled, seasonal effects, and quarterback absences. They then run 10,000 simulations of the season to come out with their projections.
In ESPN’s Football Power Index, the most recent Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, have the best odds to win the Super Bowl according to ESPN’s FPI at 21%. The Dallas Cowboys come in with the fifth-best odds to win the Super Bowl at 5%.
Here’s what Walder had to say.
“As mentioned, offense is more consistent year to year. So with many of the key ingredients back — including quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and offensive linemen Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Zack Martin — there’s every reason to be bullish on the Dallas offense. And it’s a big reason to be bullish on the Cowboys overall. McCarthy might bring a pass-heavier approach, and while it is not represented in the model, it supports the notion even more. Dallas has a 5% chance to win the Super Bowl and a 48% chance to win the NFC East.”
Seth Walder, ESPN
For every team in the NFL, the first thing they have to do is to win enough games to get into the playoffs. You can’t make the Super Bowl until you’re in the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, teams have to get a little luck and be surging at the right time to ride that momentum to a Super Bowl victory. The Dallas Cowboys have the best shot to win the NFC East at 48%. Just behind them are the Philadelphia Eagles at 44.7%, who also have the sixth-best chance to win the Super Bowl in 2020.
If anything can be assumed about the 2020 season in the NFC East is that it will be a two-horse race in the division, and how it shakes out will likely be determined by their two games within the NFC East. The two teams have alternated the division title each of the last four seasons, with each side taking two division titles apiece.
The addition of the seventh playoff team to each conference increases the possibility of both the Cowboys and the Eagles making the playoffs. However, making the playoffs as a divisional winner and hosting a playoff game is much better than entering as a five through seven seed. The week 16 game between the Cowboys and the Eagles will once again likely decide the fate of the NFC East and which team gets to host a playoff game in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, preseason projections don’t mean anything once the season starts. In recent years, this team’s looked good on paper a lot but ultimately fell short. However, the new coaching staff combined and a more aggressive philosophy coupled with the influx of talent on both sides of the ball should lead to a playoff appearance for the Dallas Cowboys.
Will the Dallas Cowboys finally break through and win that sixth Super Bowl that has eluded them for the last 25 years, or will the drought continue? Hopefully, a 2020 season happens, and we get to find out.