The Dallas Cowboys were supposed to dominate a weak NFC East in 2020. However, they were ravaged by injuries, with the most devastating being a season-ending ankle injury to Dak Prescott in Week 5, and the Cowboys finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Despite a down year, and several holes to fill on the roster during the offseason, the Cowboys are the most likely team to return to the playoffs this season after missing out in 2020, according to ESPN insiders.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN on why he picked the Cowboys.
“A defense that bottomed out last season will improve with new personnel and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. A healthy Dak Prescott with one of the deepest receiver corps in the league will catalyze a top-five offense. And the NFC East will leave the playoff door wide open.”
Fowler was joined by NFL analyst Field Yates, the Undefeated’s Jason Ried, and analytics writer Seth Walder in picking America’s Team.
The most important thing that will get the Cowboys back to the playoffs is the return of Prescott. The Cowboy’s offense averaged 32.6 points in the five games Prescott played in. That number dwindled to 21.1 with Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and rookie Bem DiNucci under center.
Prescott is still seeking a long-term deal with the Cowboys and is entering his third round of negotiations to do so. If a new contract isn’t reached by March 9 Prescott will be franchise tagged at $37.7 million, which will give him and the Cowboys until July 15 to agree on a lucrative extension.
The Cowboys defense was arguably the worst in team history last season. They allowed a franchise-record 473 points and finished 31st against the run. There were positive signs at the tail end of the season though. They forced 12 turnovers in the final four games (the team went 3-1 over that span), and with the addition of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and new pieces via free agency and the NFL draft, they should be better as a unit in 2021.
The Cowboys will try to stop the Washington Football Team from being the first repeat winner in the NFC East since the Philadelphia Eagles did it four straight years in the early 2000s (2001-2004).