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ESPN Cowboys projection: Fourth-most wins, win NFC East, #1 seed in NFC

After a solid offseason so far, the Cowboys are getting some love for 2023.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys did something that they had not done in a very long time this past season (no, not that thing). They went to the playoffs for the second year in a row. Amazingly, this bar had not been crossed by America’s Team in 15 years so the fact that it finally was deserves some mention. What’s more is that the Cowboys made it to the dance two years in a row with the same head coach, something that they had not done in 23 years.

If the Cowboys manage to become a playoff team in 2023, then they will be playing postseason football three years in a row for the first time in 27 years. Barry Switzer took the Cowboys to the playoffs three straight seasons from 1994-1996 and obviously that 1995 team is the most recent one in franchise history to win it all.

While the ultimate goal still remains - lifting the Lombardi trophy - it does appear that the Cowboys have a very strong chance of making it three straight playoff appearances under Mike McCarthy’s watch.

That isn’t me just making it up, by the way. It is what the math says. The math!

The Cowboys are projected to have the fourth-most wins in the NFL and to win the NFC East according to Mike Clay’s model

One of the best things to come out every year is the model that ESPN’s Mike Clay works out that serves to help predict and project what each team is going to do in various ways (it is very helpful for fantasy football purposes). It is interesting to see the statistical projections for different players on the Cowboys, but obviously it is difficult to not have our eyes distracted by the amount of wins that Dallas figures to have.

Clay’s model now accounts for free agency moves across the league and the Cowboys have two important additions that, while not actually free agent signings in Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, figure to be a big part of who they are as a team in 2023.

Here are Mike Clay’s projections for the Dallas Cowboys as of April 11th.

Mike Clay | ESPN

Quarterback Dak Prescott is projected to have his third-best statistical season individually, although he is also projected to throw 15 interceptions which would not be cool. Tony Pollard figures to have over 1,100 rushing yards with 10 total touchdowns on the season.

CeeDee Lamb is also projected to top 1,100 yards (obviously receiving) with seven scores to go along with it. The aforementioned Brandin Cooks finishes second on the team in receiving yards here, but Michael Gallup still edges him out in terms of touchdowns seven to five.

The most team-wide thing we can look at here is the number of wins that Dallas is projected to have and Clay has them with 10.8, the fourth-most in the NFL. The Cowboys have a win probability of over 50% in all of their games but three (the schedule here is just a temporary placeholder as the actual schedule is not out yet): at Los Angeles Chargers, at Buffalo Bills, at Philadelphia Eagles.

Those are obviously difficult games, but even if the Cowboys lose them they can still finish the season with a solid record and position themselves well for the playoffs. On that subject, Clay’s model has the Cowboys entering the playoffs not only as the winners of the NFC East, but with nothing to do in the Wild Card Round since they will be the top seed in the NFC.

Obviously the Cowboys were a very good team last year and the year before that, added talent to the group, and have the 21st most difficult schedule in the league (the easiest in their division) according to the model which accounts for offseason roster moves. Those are all ingredients that suggest the Cowboys could perform very well in 2023, especially if regression works in the right way for Dak Prescott by way of interceptions thrown, although it could also work against the Cowboys defense by way of turnovers generated.

These are just projections and it is still only April, two weeks before the NFL Draft. But this is still exciting. Next season could prove to be very fun.

What do you think of these projections? Let us know in the comments down below.

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