Is it really going to happen? Are we going to be able to watch the Dallas Cowboys in action? Well, it sure looks that way as the 2020 NFL season starts this week. But before the Cowboys kick things off with their Sunday night opener in Los Angeles, we wanted to offer up some guesses as to what might happen this upcoming season. Before we do that, here is a recap of my Nostradamus attempts from the past two seasons:
Okay, so as well as I nailed the 2018 season, last year’s predictions left a little to be desired. Clearly, Chidobe Awuzie and Maliek Collins, while both solid, did not live up to those expectations. Leighton Vander Esch got hurt, so we’re left wondering what could’ve been on that one. It is worth noting that Michael Gallup averaged more yards per game than Amari Cooper, and had Gallup not missed two games due to injury, he would’ve easily led the team in receiving yards.
Without further ado, let’s get to this year’s seasonal predictions...
1. Cowboys will finish in the top 10 in takeaways this season
You don’t have to be a Cowboys historian to know that this team has been extremely terrible at taking the ball away over the years. In fact, only once in the Jason Garrett era have the Cowboys finished in the top 10 in takeaways. That happened in 2014 when the team went 12-4, and they finished second in the league with 31 takeaways. Here is how the team has finished through Garrett’s nine seasons as head coach:
While we were remained hopeful that the team was slowly trending up after finishing dead last in 2015, the Cowboys took a step back last season. They only had 17 takeaways, finishing 25th in the league last year.
There are a handful of reasons to believe things will get better. Regression to the mean is on their side, but more importantly, they have a threatening offense that will force opposing teams to take additional risks to keep up. The change in coaching staff combined with some playmakers on defense also helps. Mike McCarthy’s Packers team finished 15-1 back in 2012 with a defense that gave up the most yards in the league. Of course, a lot of that was due to team’s having to play catch up as the Packers had the no. 1 offense in the league that year. This also resulted in their defense leading the league with 38 takeaways. There are similar factors in Dallas this year that could help them see a serious improvement in creating more turnovers.
2. Lamb challenges the LSU boys for OROY
Joe Burrow is a special player. It’s just a matter of time before he’s a star in the NFL as he has the pure talent to be one of the game’s best. But that time might not be immediate as one of the downsides of being drafted no. 1 overall is that he goes to the worst team in the league. While Burrow should provide an immediate spark to a dismal Cincinnati Bengals offense, there will be some early career struggles.
In contrast, rookie CeeDee Lamb falls into a marvelous spot for a wide receiver as he joins last year’s leading offense in terms of yards. Lamb has been as good as advertised with a terrific camp, and very well could be hot out of the gate. Talent plus situation points to a big inaugural season for Lamb that could challenge this year’s top pick for offensive rookie of the year honors.
Speaking of ideal landing spots, Burrow’s LSU teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the top running back drafted and he was selected by the reigning Super Bowl Champs, Kansas City Chiefs. It could be CEH, and not Burrow, that provides Lamb with the toughest competition for the OROY honor.
3. LC earns his first Pro Bowl
La’el Collins quietly established himself as one of the better offensive tackles in the league last year. With each new year at the position, LC just keeps getting better and better. Word is finally starting to get out that this guy is pretty good, and this could be the season where he finally get’s recognized.
For years, the Cowboys have had three Pro Bowl offensive lineman in Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick. While Frederick has now retired, the trio of Pro Bowl linemen can be kept in tact if Collins keeps playing at a high level.
4. Zeke sets new career-high in yards per attempt
With so much excitement built up for this offense, one player that gets brushed aside a bit is Ezekiel Elliott. The beefed up passing attack will feature two new (or more utilized) pass catchers in CeeDee Lamb and Blake Jarwin. Mike McCarthy loves analytics, and analytics love the passing game, so by the transitive property, McCarthy loves to pass. Okay, so we didn’t really need mathematics to tell us that as the former coach of the Green Bay Packers has a long history of airing it out.
If the Cowboys shift a little more to the passing game, what does that mean for Zeke? A talent like Elliott is still going to eat, only now he’ll be able to use a little portion control. The All-Pro running back has eclipsed 300 carries in all three of his full seasons since entering the league, but don’t be surprised if the total workload dips a bit. Instead, Elliott should benefit from a more dispersed defense and has a good chance to break the 5.1 ypc he pulled off his rookie season.
5. Dak will earn MVP consideration
There’s a formula the NFL uses to make their most valuable player selection and it goes like this - be a great player on a great team. Dak Prescott has a chance to check off both those boxes with an impressive 2020 campaign, which just so happens to be a contract year... again.
The table is set for the Cowboys to make a deep run, and the guy at the helm should be in for a huge season. With all the weapons he has at his disposal, look for Prescott to have his second-straight 4,000+ yard season. And while he might not flirt with 5,000 like he did last season, he should be able to set a new career high in touchdown passes.
I’m not a contract scientist, but I would venture to say that having a league MVP on your résumé would probably a nice bargaining chip.
6. Cowboys go to the Super Bowl
Making it to the Super Bowl is hard. It’s absurd to make that kind of prediction. What kind of homer does something like that? Maybe a homer that believes this team is stacked, and that it’s finally their turn to have the pieces fall into place. Make no bones about it, this team is in it to win it! That’s not me talking, that’s the Cowboys new head coach:
“I think that’s what every team starts their offseason with. The ones that don’t want to talk about it, they’re probably just trying to underpromise, overachieve. But I’ve always been very up front about it with every team I’ve ever coached: We’re in this to win a championship. Make no bones about it.”
Predictions for the Cowboys 2020 season...— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 5, 2020
Cowboys finish top 10 in takeaways
CeeDee Lamb flirts with OROY
La'el Collins makes his first Pro Bowl
Ezekiel Elliott sets new career high in yards per carry
Dak Prescott is in MVP conversation
Super Bowl, baby!
What predictions do you have for the 2020 season?