The 2017 Dallas Cowboys finished second in their division with a 9-7 record and fell just shy of their second consecutive playoff appearance. That’s kind of been the pattern for this team in recent years; good season, bad season, and repeat. Following this pattern should mean a good year lies ahead in 2018 and the Cowboys should be right back in the playoffs. Of course, patterns can be broken so just like previous offseasons following a tough year - fans aren’t quite sure what to expect.
Well, Las Vegas will eventually set their odds for the 2018, but ESPN’s Bill Barwell is already jumping the gun with his win total predictions for all 32 teams. How did the Cowboys fare? Let’s take a look at what he had to say and we’ll also include the Cowboys divisional foes to get a sense of how the standings might play out next season.
1st Place - Philadelphia Eagles
2017 Record: 13-3
The Eagles invested big when the traded up to select Carson Wentz and it has paid off. He was having an MVP-like season before tearing his ACL in the game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles made all the right moves strengthening up their secondary via trades (Ronald Darby), free agency (Patrick Robinson), and risky draft picks (Sidney Jones). Add that to an already talented front-seven and the Eagles defense is going to be a force.
Philadelphia also added some offensive weapons for Wentz with wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey and running back Jay Ajayi. 10.5 wins seems maybe a little low, but repeating 13 wins is a really tough task (ask Dallas). Philadelphia will have most of their players in tact and they’ll still be in contention for the game’s biggest prize.
2nd Place - Dallas Cowboys
2017 Record: 9-7
The Cowboys lost three of their best players for a total of 16 games and they struggled to adapt to life without them. Some good health and the continuous development of their young secondary should make this team stronger next season. The Cowboys also finally got themselves a legitimate pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence and as long as he isn’t allowed to get away, this defense could take a step forward.
But the biggest wild card for the Cowboys going forward is what do they have in Dak Prescott? After a great rookie campaign last season, he struggled this year. A bounce-back season for Dak should mean a bounce-back season for Dallas. I’m taking the over on that one.
3rd Place - Washington Redskins
2017 Record: 7-9
The Washington Redskins have been the most consistent NFC East team over the last three seasons, but unfortunately for them they’ve been consistently mediocre. They won nine, eight, and now seven games over the last three years and are slowly trending down. They endured a lot of injuries this season and lived and died by the play of Kirk Cousins. The question now begs, is Cousins sticking around?
The Redskins will have to figure how they want to handle their quarterback situation and how that plays out should weigh heavily towards how 2018 plays out for them.
Last Place - New York Giants
2017 Record: 3-13
It broke my heart to see the New York Giants struggle like they did this season, especially after all that money they spent on re-vamping their defense. Okay, I’m over it. In a season where we saw Eli Manning get benched, Odell Beckham get hurt, and head coach Ben McAdoo get fired - the Giants were a hot mess. Three wins on the year will earn them the number two overall pick in the draft.
The team hasn’t had this high of a draft pick since back in 2004, they year they landed Manning. This could be the year to finally find his replacement as there are a couple of Josh’s who can sling the ball around pretty well. Of course they also need a few guys to block for them as well as offensive line has been a huge weakness for this team in recent years. That could mean it would take a few years to get back on track and all that cash spent on defense is just going to waste.