1. The Cowboys’ defensive dominance
To put this anywhere but at the top of the list would be burying the lead. Everyone expected the Cowboys defense to be a force in 2023 but not many people predicted this level of dominance.
Micah Parsons is redefining his already-undefinable role on the defense. He’s a game wrecker in every way. In Week 2 alone Parsons logged five tackles, two sacks, four hits, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble. He even added a deflection for good measure. Parsons has been lining up on the edge, off-ball, and even in the A-gap.
He's making a compelling case to be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and the unofficial title of the most important non-QB in the game.
Alongside Parsons is a murder’s row of pick-your-own poison. DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and Parsons are currently ranked in PFF’s top-10 graded EDGE players. To put it another way, Dallas fields 30 percent of the NFL’s top EDGE players.
Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston are both ranked in the top-13 of NFL DTs. Odigizuwa alone is on pace for almost 60 pressures and 25 sacks and has been a beast inside for Dallas.
The Cowboys survived their depth issues at LB by converting career safety, Markquese Bell, to the LB position. Despite his inexperience, Bell has performed just as well, if not better, as his LB counterparts, Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark.
And on the backend the Cowboys are an embarrassment of riches. Trevon Diggs, Stephon Gilmore and DaRon Bland are on the board with interceptions. As are Malik Hooker and Juanyeh Thomas, who PFF grades in the top-15 this season.
Altogether, the Dallas defense leads the entire NFL in turnovers again this season. They are picking up where they left off last year and adding to it in ways many didn’t think were possible.
While it’s highly improbable they can continue their pace of five points allowed per game, the turnovers are the backbone and identity of the team, and given their depth throughout the unit, that’s unlikely to change this season.