It is safe to say that some people have some pretty lofty expectations for the 2020 Dallas Cowboys. While the Cowboys finished last season with a mediocre 8-8 record, it is just about universally agreed that they fell far short of what the talent on their team merited. This is in many ways the reason that the organization moved on from Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys may have ended last season with a lot of talent, but they obviously lost some of it. Byron Jones and Robert Quinn both left in free agency, although the Cowboys added significant players like Gerald McCoy and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Of course the Cowboys also drafted very well and added CeeDee Lamb to their offense.
What are legitimate expectations for the team next season, though? It can’t always be Super Bowl or bust, right?
ESPN’s FPI has the Cowboys with the fifth-best chances to win the Super Bowl
It’s one thing for your family member or friend on social media to think the Cowboys are going to be very good in 2020. We all think that they can achieve a lot, but what does the data say?
The worldwide network that is ESPN puts together their Football Power Index every year and it yields some interesting results. A refresher on how it works before we look at their 2020 data:
FPI is our prediction model for the NFL. Preseason ratings are based on each team’s Las Vegas win total; last season’s performance on offense, defense and special teams; the number of returning starters; coaching staff changes; and starting and backup quarterbacks. FPI produces team rankings and season projections, which we’re unveiling for the 2020 season for the first time here. Here are some of the bigger takeaways from our 20,000 FPI season simulations — and jump to the bottom to see the full listing of FPI rankings for all 32 teams.
FPI obviously looks a bit more under the hood than your standard predictions that base things off of win percentage from the previous season. This is important because significant changes happen across the league, for instance teams facing the New England Patriots in 2020 aren’t exactly getting the same unit that had the success from last year.
Statistically the Cowboys had a very potent offense last season and, as mentioned, added CeeDee Lamb to it. They retained Kellen Moore as their offensive coordinator, and with all of the changes that Mike McCarthy made across the staff, there is reason to like what Dallas has to offer. While special teams are part of the FPI calculation, it was important that the Cowboys now have John Fassel manning the group. It stands to reason that they will be much better than where they were last season which only adds to the optimism surrounding the group.
As far as the 2020 FPI results, the Dallas Cowboys are viewed as having the fifth-best chances of winning Super Bowl LV.
5. Dallas Cowboys
Projected wins: 9.3
Chance to reach playoffs: 69%
Only the (in order) Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers stand in the Cowboys’ way according to FPI, and for what it’s worth the Cowboys will have to play two of those teams in 2020. What’s more is that the Philadelphia Eagles come in at number six, there are not two teams from a single division ranked higher together than Dallas and Philly.
Many people feel that the Cowboys have an easy schedule in 2020 but half of their games will come against teams ranked in the top 13 of FPI (remember that Dallas themselves are ranked in the top 13). There are a lot of reasons to like the Cowboys, but there are a lot of reasons to like the teams that they are playing as well.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the NFC East is a two-team race between the Cowboys and Eagles. If the Cowboys can find a way to earn the first hat and t-shirt of the season then it is very possible that they are playing in Tampa Bay come February.