Any given NFL season tends to produce some crazy storylines and events, such as Patrick Mahomes coming out of nowhere to win the MVP in his first season as the starter. But with the unique circumstances surrounding this season, 2020 promises some great twists and turns. What that means for the Cowboys in particular will be fascinating to watch unfold. Here are five bold predictions that could very well happen this year.
Receiver trio hits 1,000 yards each, but Blake Jarwin leads the team in touchdown receptions
Amari Cooper already said the expectation is for the Cowboys’ receiver trio - consisting of himself, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb - to hit 1,000 receiving yards each. That would be an incredible feat that hasn’t happened since 2008, but it’s not entirely unrealistic.
Assuming the Cowboys become more pass-heavy than they were last year - a safe bet with Mike McCarthy in town - then this receiving trio will definitely hit that high mark. However, that’s not bold enough of a prediction, so let’s also pick tight end Blake Jarwin to lead the team in touchdowns.
This seems crazy, but think about it. Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb will surely rack up the yards but when the offense gets into the red zone, where spacing is harder to come by, Jarwin will benefit from defenses focusing so much on said trio. Moore already showed us his affinity for sneaking tight ends across the line of scrimmage in red zone situations, and with Jarwin being the lowest priority of any defense, he should see plenty of opportunities to rack up scores after the three-headed monster does the work of getting him close.
Mike McCarthy wins Coach of the Year
Mike McCarthy has surprisingly never won the Coach of the Year award. Bill Belichick won the award the year that McCarthy’s Packers won the Super Bowl and the year McCarthy went 15-1 the award was given to Jim Harbaugh for getting the 49ers to the playoffs in his first year.
This is to say that McCarthy is overdue for the award, and since it’s typically given to overly successful first-year head coaches anyway, McCarthy should have a really good shot at it this year.
All it would take is turning the Cowboys around from a wildly talented but inconsistent team last year and into a dominant contender, if not an outright front-runner this year. McCarthy undoubtedly has the talent to do so, and with the third easiest schedule he should be able to put together one of the more impressive coaching jobs this season.
Cowboys reach the NFC Championship game
This kind of goes hand in hand with the previous prediction, as McCarthy will need to show this Cowboys team is significantly better than anything they’ve been in recent history if he’s to win the top coaching honor.
And what better way to do that than to take America’s Team to the conference championship game for the first time since the 1995 season? As mentioned, the Cowboys look to have an easy schedule this year, so piling up wins to earn the top seed is a real possibility. A that point, with a first-round bye, Dallas would only need to win one playoff game to reach the ever-elusive NFC Championship game.
In McCarthy’s nine playoff seasons in Green Bay, his teams won at least one playoff game in six of those seasons, and the Packers reached the NFC Championship game specifically in four of those seasons. In short, he’s been there before, and knows how to get back. With arguably the most complete team he’s ever coached, McCarthy and the Cowboys can break their long drought.
Trevon Diggs leads all rookies in interceptions
For as much fuss was made about the Cowboys getting a draft steal with CeeDee Lamb at 17 overall, they also made out like bandits with Trevon Diggs at 51 overall. As the eighth cornerback selected in the draft, Diggs may not be on everyone’s rookie watchlist but if training camp is anything to go off of, he’s more than ready for Sundays.
Diggs had an impressive camp and is most likely going to be one of the regular starters outside. His knack for playing the ball like a receiver and coming down with the interception made him stand out, and he even got some special work in over the offseason by going 1-on-1 against his brother, star receiver Stefon Diggs.
Diggs also has an advantage in that quarterbacks don’t know yet to avoid throwing his way. Unlike Richard Sherman or Byron Jones, Diggs should see plenty of targets in coverage this year, paving the way for him to make big plays. It won’t be like that for long, especially when Diggs finishes with the most interceptions for any rookie this year.
Dak Prescott wins MVP
This may be the least bold prediction, honestly. Dak Prescott was making a really good case for the MVP last season, consistently sitting in the top three in advanced metrics like QBR, DVOA, DYAR, EPA, and CPOE. But a hand injury that slowed his effectiveness late in the year coincided with Lamar Jackson going nuclear on the NFL, and it ended up not being much of a competition at all.
But since nobody not named Peyton Manning has won the MVP in back-to-back years this century, Jackson’s odds of a repeat are somewhat diminished. Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, and others will still be strong contenders as well, but if Prescott is able to replicate his performance from last year - if not outright improve upon it - he’ll be in good position.
And with Kellen Moore continuing to call plays, and Mike McCarthy bringing in a shift towards more pass-heavy concepts, and CeeDee Lamb upgrading this already-stacked wide receiver corps, the odds are fairly good that Dak can do what it takes to become the first ever quarterback in franchise history to win the award.