The Dallas Cowboys were favored in 14 of 16 games in 2019, they went 7-7 in those games. This can’t be repeated in 2020 if they want division championship.
The Dallas Cowboys had a very bipolar and streaky 2019 season. The worst part of that was their record in games they were favored in, which was 14 times by the betting spread. A mere 7-7 record in such games brought their season to a mediocre 8-8 mark.
That is left in the past though and Cowboys fans are hoping that part of that was the lack of motivation inspired by former coach Jason Garrett. New coach Mike McCarthy must avoid losing so many games that America’s Team is favored in if he wants to keep the fan base from calling for his head early in his tenure.
How that is done starts with the mindset of the organization, they need to come out of the gates much faster in 2020. In their eight losses overall, they were outscored in the 1st quarter by a total of 52 to 17. Meaning in most of those games the early deficit was too damaging to overcome.
A lot of starting the games faster in 2020 will fall on mixing up the offense throughout the first few series. The fans are sick of the offense starting off their first scripted drive of the game with two runs by running back Ezekiel Elliott on 1st downs up the middle. Practice all week to do something bland and vanilla seems like a waste of time.
McCarthy reportedly spent most of his year away from football watching film and studying analytics. If this is the case I point towards the Cowboy’s most successful game of the season, a 44-21 rout over the Los Angeles Rams, as the Cowboys best brand of football and a model to follow.
The first eight 1st and 10 plays of that game featured eight unique formations and absolutely zero traditional run plays. There was a read option, a triple-option reverse, bootlegs, and even a play that featured Elliott at fullback and running back Tony Pollard taking a motion toss wide. That keeps the Cowboys arrangement of threats dangerous, keeping defenses on their toes.
A lot of fans will say that the Cowboys need an identity of running Elliott up the middle and they absolutely do but there are better ways to mix those runs in. That day Elliott had 117 of Dallas’ 263 rush yards. One of the best games of his season.
It is pretty simple if Elliott can run for over 100 yards the team wins. 6-1 in the seven instances that happened in 2019. But mixing up formations and personnel allows for Elliott to have a fair chance at reaching 100 yards.
So, to bring this full circle here, if the Cowboys want to win most, if not all the games they are favored in 2020, it comes down to starting games off faster on offense.
The Dallas Cowboys have six games versus playoff teams from 2019, next season. That means they will most likely be favored in 10 to 11 games. Big D has to find a way to win those games if they want to keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles in the division race.