The Cowboys had quite an offense in 2016, when Dak Prescott took the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award after posting the third-best passer rating and total QBR behind Matt Ryan and Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing, and the O-line won the inaugural Offensive Line of the Year Award.
The 2016 Cowboys scored 421 points, the 10th-most in franchise history, for a cool 26.3 points per game average. That wasn't quite enough to reach the 30-point per game threshold, but it was the fifth-best total in the league last year, and a little over a field goal shy of that 30-point threshold.
Why fixate on those 30 points? Because since realignment in 2002, and after the Greatest Show on Turf averaged more than 30 points per game for three consecutive years from 1999-2001, only 18 teams have averaged more than 30 points per game (which translates to 480 points per season), and all but one of those teams made the playoffs.
|Year||Team||Points Scored||W/L Record|
Also noteworthy: the W/L records of the teams above average out to about 13-3. If you're looking for a quick way to the playoffs, history suggests that consistently scoring 30 points would be a good place to start looking.
Both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott should be better with more experience, and provided the main players on offense stay healthy, 30 points per game should be entirely within reach for the 2017 Cowboys - and there are not that many teams in the NFL that can keep pace with a team that consistently puts up 30 points.
Teams last year were 83-17 when scoring 30 points or more.
Will the Cowboys be able to average 30+ points per game for the first time in franchise history in 2017? If they do, a playoff berth is a given.
And you know what doesn't matter when you score 30 points per game? Your defense.
The 18 teams in the table above averaged 341 points allowed per year, or 21.3 points per game. The 2016 Cowboys defense allowed just 306 points over 16 games, or 19.1 points per game, the fifth-best value in the league.
The Cowboys are built to be a team that wins by outscoring you. You may not like hearing this, but the Cowboys are a team that defines itself by its offense, not by its defense. If the Cowboys have a core belief, it is that they will win with their offense. The defense in turn works best when the offense has established a lead and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can deploy his physical, opportunistic defense, a scheme that has been Marinelli’s modus operandi since he became a defensive coach in the NFL.
Every year in Dallas, there will be fans waiting for a return of the Doomsday Defense, or at least a reasonable facsimile of that defense. But today's Cowboys are about as far removed from a Doomsday Defense as they can be, and that's not an indictment in any form, it's simply a fact. Every team in the NFL has to figure out which side of the ball it wants to emphasize more, and in Dallas it's offense first, second, and third.
So why not expect them to average 30 points per game in 2017? They were specifically built to do just that, and barring injuries, there is no reason why the 2016 team should not be one of the top scoring offenses in the league.
Frankly, if the Cowboys don't finish at least among the Top 5 in points scored, I'd consider that a big disappointment. The offense is playing with eight Pro Bowlers (Witten, Bryant, Morris, Frederick, Martin, T. Smith, Prescott, Elliott) and eight former first-round picks (Bryant, Smith, Frederick, Martin, McFadden, Elliott, Cooper, and honorary first-rounder La'El Collins). If that isn't enough, and they can't get it done despite such a pedigreed and potent offensive roster, well... then butter my butt and call me a biscuit.