(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into 2021. Today, the staff writers debate expectations for the Cowboys this season.
FRISCO, Texas – We can't end 20 Questions without a big-picture debate, right?
So much went wrong for the Cowboys last season, leading to a 6-10 record. If they can dodge major injuries, 2021 looks much more promising. Just how promising, though? The staff writers make their predictions.
1) Realistic Expectations For The Cowboys?
Nick Eatman: A realistic goal for the Cowboys is to compete for a Super Bowl this year. Yeah, I said it. But it's not that crazy when you break down the actual term. It's a realistic goal. The goal for all teams is to win the Super Bowl. Is it realistic for the Cowboys, coming off a 6-10 season? I'd say it's unlikely mainly because this will be my 22nd season covering this team and I haven't come close to seeing a Super Bowl that didn't show up in our city. So it's hard to fathom, and I know I'm not alone. But let's be honest about it – the Cowboys should be able to win this division. It won't be a slam dunk, but if they're healthy on offense and just a little better on defense, they can win the division. You do that, play at home for the first round and then land yourself in the Divisional round, then you're right there in the mix. That in essence, is competing for a Super Bowl. So yes, the Cowboys are good enough to be in the conversation. Things have to go right. But since most of it went wrong in 2020, it's about time it turned back around. 11-6 seems a little rich and 10-7 sounds low to me. But it's somewhere in that neighborhood for me.
Rob Phillips: Let's just start with the NFC East. Anything else is far over our skis. If we really look at this objectively, the Cowboys and Washington have the most impressive rosters (on paper) in the division. The Cowboys have special talent on offense. Washington has built a special defense. I think both teams can win 10 games and the East if things break the right way with injuries and the schedule. After that, who knows? The other NFC teams with terrific quarterbacks (Tampa Bay, Seattle, maybe Green Bay) will likely be in the conversation, as always. But it's reasonable to think the Dallas defense can make decent improvement in Dan Quinn's first year as coordinator. If that happens, and if there's better luck in the health department, we'll be watching a good football team this fall.
David Helman: The Cowboys play in a division that makes this question easy to answer. The NFC East is one of the worst divisions in the league by any objective measure. Washington and New York made improvements during the offseason, to be sure, but these are still teams with serious flaws. Even more important than that: neither of them has a quarterback as good as Dak Prescott. So right off the bat, a fair expectation is for the Cowboys to win a bad division and host a playoff game. From there, it's hard to say. I don't think the Cowboys – on paper – are as good as Tampa Bay or Green Bay. They're probably not as good as Los Angeles or San Francisco, either. I do think they're good enough to win a home playoff game, but I'm not sure my imagination stretches much further than that. Sorry if you've heard this before, but a divisional round exit sounds like a realistic expectation for this team.