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Can the Dallas Cowboys score 30+ points per game in 2020?

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There are not that many teams in the NFL that can keep pace with an offense that consistently puts up 30+ points.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

One odd quirk of the 2019 Cowboys season is that the team lost every single game in which it scored less than 30 points. The Cowboys scored more than 30 points in eight games and won all of them. They scored less than 30 points in the other eight games and lost every single one of those games.

As you read through that first paragraph, you might have been distracted by that odd piece of trivia; you may have briefly reflected on the fact that the team finished 8-8; or you may have been looking at how to make this yet another post about Dak Prescott. In any case, you may have missed a key bit information cleverly hidden in the first three sentences: the Cowboys scored 30+ points in eight games last year.

Only twice in franchise history have the Cowboys scored 30+ points in more games. Once in 2014 (10 games), and once in 1983 (9 games). And 2007 was the only other season in which they had eight 30+ point games.

Our own RJ Ochoa recently wondered via Twitter which was the best Cowboys team not to win a Super Bowl.

So in terms of 30+ point games, our disappointing, non-playoff, 8-8 season in 2019 is right up there with 2014 (10 30+ games), 2007 (8), and ahead of 2016 (6) and 1994 (6)? Yes it is.

Everybody has his or her own idea about what derailed a season that might have been headed for the record books, here are two:

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 22 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
2019 Baltimore 531 14-2
2018 Kansas City 565 12-4
2018 LA Rams 527 13-3
2018 New Orleans 505 13-3
2016 Atlanta 540 11-5
2015 Carolina 500 15-1
2015 Arizona 489 13-3
2014 Green Bay 486 12-4
2014 Denver 482 12-4
2013 Denver 606 13-3
2012 New England 557 12-4
2012 Denver 481 13-3
2011 Green Bay 560 15-1
2011 New Orleans 547 13-3
2011 New England 513 13-3
2010 New England 518 14-2
2009 New Orleans 510 13-3
2007 New England 589 16-0
2006 San Diego 492 14-2
2004 Indianapolis 522 12-4
2004 Kansas City 483 7-9
2003 Kansas City 484 13-3

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.

The 2019 Cowboys scored 434 points, the eighth-most in franchise history, for a cool 27.1 points per game average. That wasn’t quite enough to reach the 30-point per game threshold, but it was the sixth-best total in the league last year, and a field goal shy of that 30-point threshold.

And you know which team missed 10 field goals last year? The Cowboys.

And you know which team had a head coach who regularly wimped out and settled for field goal attempts instead of touchdowns? Those selfsame Cowboys.

But in 2020, assuming there is a season at all, the Cowboys may finally have the team to average 30+ points per game, as Joey Ickes explains:

Will the Cowboys be able to average 30+ points per game for the first time in franchise history in 2020? 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. Because there are not that many teams in the NFL that can keep pace with an offense that puts up 30+ points.

In fact, teams last year were 116-16 when scoring 30 points or more for a cool .879 winning percentage. Applying that winning percentage to a 16-game schedule gives you a 14-2 record.

Everybody may not like hearing this, but the Cowboys are a team that defines itself by its offense, not by its defense, perhaps more this year than ever before:

“I think we’ve got a very unique offense put together between having a really good offensive line, a tight end that can stretch the middle of the field, the three receivers and then [Elliott] in the backfield and an athletic quarterback that throws the ball very well,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We certainly have opportunities to move the ball and score points. We’ll just have to see. Obviously, we made that pick [of Lamb] because we think it makes us dynamic and certainly gives us the opportunity to really give people problems when they line up on the other side of the ball and when they defend us.”

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. A fact that is clearly evident when you follow the money:

Per Spotrac.com, the Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL in percentage of 2020 cap dollars allocated to the offense, and just 23rd for the defense. Special teams ranks 15th, but that will also drop once the team releases either Kai Forbath or Greg Zuerlein.

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 2020? They were specifically built to do just that, and barring injuries, there is no reason why the 2020 team should not be one of the top scoring offenses in the league.