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NFL analysts show confidence that the Cowboys will return to the playoffs in 2021

Some confidence that the Cowboys will rebound in 2021.

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The offseason is the time for optimism. Anything can happen between now and the start of the season as free agency and the draft offer up all kinds of possibilities. Any NFL team could improve it’s fortunes dramatically in one offseason, just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That includes the Dallas Cowboys. We have to remember that the Cowboys entered 2020 as contenders. Injuries, poor coaching and some questionable calls in roster-building derailed the team, but they do have some star power in their midst. And they do play in a struggling NFC East that has more questions than answers.

So when asking the question of which team will return to the playoffs in 2021 after missing out in 2020, the Cowboys are a popular pick. ESPN recently talked to a panel of NFL observers and analysts, and the Cowboys name was one that was repeatedly brought up.

Which team that didn’t make the playoffs in 2020 will make it in 2021?

Jeremy Fowler, national NFL writer: Cowboys. A defense that bottomed out last season will improve with new personnel and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. A healthy Dak Prescott with one of the deepest receiver corps in the league will catalyze a top-five offense. And the NFC East will leave the playoff door wide open.

Jason Reid, The Undefeated senior NFL writer: Cowboys. Now, I’m assuming the Cowboys and Prescott come together on a multiyear contract extension. I’m assuming that there’s no way the Cowboys could possibly be as bad on defense next season. Big assumptions? Possibly. But with a healthy (and happy) Prescott and even the slightest improvement on defense, Dallas will be back in the postseason.

Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: Cowboys. They would have obliterated the woeful NFC East with a healthy Prescott, who will be back if there’s any sanity in that front office. Don’t get me wrong: That defense has problems. But defense can also be fixed much quicker than offense.

Field Yates, NFL analyst: Cowboys. The division is wide open and I’m convinced Prescott will finally be signed long-term this offseason. His value was highlighted by his absence this past season and I expect an exceptional comeback.

If you notice a theme running through those answers, you aren’t the only one. The first point is the most obvious one - the Cowboys have to get Dak Prescott signed. Hopefully they will get him signed to a long-term deal and not a franchise tag. As noted, a healthy Prescott would have likely delivered the Cowboys a 2020 NFC East title. Not much has changed for 2021. If Prescott is back, then the Cowboys’ potent offense returns.

Then, all they need is an improved defense. Dan Quinn has been brought in to make that happen. But once again, Dak Prescott plays a large role. If the Cowboys can get Prescott signed to a long-term deal, that should free up some money this year for the team to explore free agency. Maybe even sign a first wave free agent to help their struggling defense.

They may not be title contenders in 2021, although you can write that off just yet. Plenty of teams have rebounded from a disastrous season to contending. But, with the state of the NFC East, the Cowboys should, at least, be in the driver’s seat to win the division if they can sign Prescott and add some quality to their defense.

Do you think the Cowboys will make the playoffs in 2021?


Will the Cowboys make the playoffs in 2021?

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