Which NFC team should the Dallas Cowboys fear the most?
By Tyrone Starr
Looking to break through a decades long ceiling, the Dallas Cowboys will face every major contender in 2019. Which one poses the biggest threat to them?
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys made it to the Divisional round of the NFC Playoffs. As you all well know by now, they have not cleared this hurdle since 1995. Twenty-three years and counting, this franchise has seen every other team in the conference, except Detroit and Washington, play for a chance at a Super Bowl ring.
The 2019 version of the Dallas Cowboys could be the best team during that entire time. In 2016, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott to thirteen wins, shocking most of the league. Unfortunately, Aaron Rodgers did things only Aaron Rodgers could do and the ride came to an abrupt end.
In 2007, the Cowboys won 13 games for the first time in franchise history. Featuring one of this franchise’s best offenses of all times, an ill-advised vacation the week prior through off the timing of said offense as Dallas was upset by the division rival Giants.
The only other times Dallas had any realistic chance at a possible championship run saw frustration in much different ways.
In 2014, a DeMarco Murray fumble and one of the historically worst calls in league history thwarted efforts. Last season, the Rams had two running backs top 100+ yards as it was made public that their coaching staff exploited tells by the Cowboys defensive line.
So, who should the Dallas Cowboys be most worried about in 2019? One look at their schedule gives you all the answers you seek.
September 29 – Sunday Night Football on NBC at New Orleans
The Saints should have played in last year’s Super Bowl if not for yet another atrocious blown call by the officials. That team has made significant changes but has not really gone backwards.
Gone are long-time Saints Mark Ingram at running back, Max Unger at center. Replacing them will be former Raider and Viking Latavius Murry along with former Viking Nick Easton and first round pick Erik McCoy.
The Saints also added tight end Jared Cook and defensive tackle Malcom Brown. They will be loaded again this year and most importantly, they still have quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton. In my book, this game will serve as a huge test. Last season, the Cowboys surprised the Saints in Dallas. This year, they look to do so again on the road.
The December gauntlet
Three days prior to Christmas, you’ll know everything you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys. Heading into the fifth of December, Dallas will likely need to be at ten wins already as this month is insanely brutal.
December 5th at Chicago, the rematch against the Rams, this time at home, the week after and another tough road trip to Philadelphia on December 22nd.
Those three teams represent the only other three serious contenders in the conference. Both road games could include inclement weather. All three games will decide playoff entry and seeding.
In my opinion, the Eagles fall just behind the Saints as the biggest threat to Dallas.
Not only do they get two shots at them, they’ve done the most of any of the four teams to improve flaws from last season.
In 2018, the Eagles were abysmal at running the ball. To address this deficiency, Philadelphia drafted running back Miles Sanders from Penn State in round two and trading for former Bears standout Jordan Howard.
Another aspect of their failure to make the playoffs last season was their red zone touchdown success. Improving the running game will help. So too will having four receiving targets all of which are taller than 6-foot-3.
As for the Bears and Rams, I think both teams will come back to the pack a little, at least from a talent aspect. The Rams will benefit from a weak NFC West as well as games against the AFC North so their record will not reflect much of a drop.
Chicago, however, will not have the luxury of a fourth place schedule as they did last season and have the AFC West to deal with as well. Twelve wins will be much harder to come by in 2019.
In order to break through to the NFC Championship and beyond, the Dallas Cowboys will need to be firing on all cylinders. The offense must remain potent. The defense must continue to make strides trending upwards while the coaching needs to improve.
Of course, health is always a huge key, not to mention avoidance of any suspensions (ahem Elliott, Randy Gregory.
The Saints, Eagles, Rams and Bears all pose strong threats to the Cowboys hopes and dreams. Dallas will get a shot at all four. How they fare in those contests will define how 2019 ends.