The Cowboys great start on the 2016 regular season has many people wondering if they can contend for the Super Bowl this year. The short answer to that question is yes; they have a chance. Vegas gives them odds of 14/1. There are some mitigating circumstances around the team that could send their season heading in the other direction. The Cowboys are a team of strengths and weaknesses. It seems that Dallas either does something well or badly. There is no in between.
If you have been following the Cowboys even a little this year you know that their offense is the reason that they are winning games. They are moving the ball in an “old school” fashion by relying on the run and using high percentage pass plays. The teams’ 5-1 record is surprising because they are starting a rookie at quarterback and running back in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot respectively.
Prescott is the surprise player of the league this year. The Cowboys drafted out of Georgia Tech in the sixth round. So far, he is the best sixth round draft pick since Tom Brady. His best attribute is his ability not to turn the ball over. That skill combined with the running game is the reason the Cowboys have one of the most efficient offenses in the league.
Elliot was supposed to be good. The running back out of Ohio State was drafted last spring with the 4th overall pick in the draft. He has exceeded all expectations so far. The fact that the team has the best run blocking offensive line in the league doesn’t hurt, though. Elliot rushed for over 150 yards in last week’s matchup against the Packers. When you have these kinds of strengths, it’s much easier to cover up your weaknesses. It will be interesting to see how much better the offense gets once All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant returns to the lineup.
The Cowboys’ weaknesses all lie on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest glaring problem is in the defensive secondary. Ironically, this is the area on the field where owner Jerry Jones has spent the most on salaries. The Cowboys need to improve their pass rush as well. The return of Mo Claiborne has slightly improved their ability in pass coverage compared to earlier in the season.
Their coverage would be greatly improved if they didn’t have to stay on receivers for so long. The pass rush just isn’t there for the Cowboys this season. Cornerbacks and safeties can only cover for so long before the quarterback finds a hole. The Cowboys D is still finding ways to slow down and stop opposing defenses.
Another reason that it is difficult to gauge how well the Cowboys are going to do in the postseason this year is their schedule. They haven’t had the toughest schedule so far. Most of their wins have come against pretty bad teams. Their schedule is going to get tougher as the year goes on.
I think the Cowboys have the talent to win the super bowl. They need to stay healthy on both sides of the ball to do it as they aren’t very deep. They may also want to give Alfred Morris some more carries so Elliot doesn’t hit a wall and get burned out before postseason. It’s also going to be interesting to see what they do at quarterback after the return of Romo from the IR list.