FRISCO, Texas – Here we are. The Cowboys and Rams are just days away from playing the season opener, something that many people doubted would even happen, especially on Sept.13.
But now that it's here, let's dive in on what to expect.
The staff writers each provided a bold prediction for the Cowboys this season:
One 1,000-Yard Receiver
Rob Phillips: Maybe the Cowboys will have three 1,000-yard receivers this year, as many believe. It's certainly possible. I'll say they only have one — Amari Cooper — and that's actually a good thing. There are so many options in the passing game — the receivers, Blake Jarwin and the tight ends, and running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Dak Prescott really has an opportunity to spread things around. Plus, if the Cowboys are a better overall team this year, they'll have more leads and more chances to wear down defenses with the run game in the second half of games. I think Ezekiel Elliott will reach 1,500 rushing yards once again and we'll see a balanced, productive offense.
Pollard Catching More Than Zeke
Kyle Youmans: At first glance, this may not seem as bold of a prediction as it could be. Pollard, who split the majority of his snaps as both a wide receiver and tailback at Memphis, finished with almost three-times as many receiving yards in college career as Elliott did at Ohio State.
However, over the last two seasons, the passing game has become more of a complete element of Elliott's game as he's increased his yearly receptions to 95 and 71 respectively. Pollard finished with 15 receptions for 107 yards, but fully expects both his targets and his involvement in the passing game to increase with the new staff. If there is any decrease in the usage of Elliott in the passing attack, expect Pollard to close the gap quicker than previously thought.
Comeback Player of the Year
Nick Eatman: My first stab at this, I was about to say that Aldon Smith will lead the Cowboys in sacks this year. I still think that, and while that may or may not be bold enough, I still believe that a player who misses five years and comes back to lead a team in sacks is a big deal. And if it happens, Smith will probably earn himself some hardware. I think he's the perfect candidate to win the award, assuming he does what he is showing us so far. I know it's early and we haven't seen a game yet but he looks like a complete beast. If he's close to that, I could see him winning that award.
Dak's Best Season Yet
David Helman: I'm not bold enough to say he's going to win NFL MVP, because a Dallas Cowboy hasn't managed to do that since 1993. But I feel 100% confident that this will be the best season of Dak Prescott's career by a wide margin — and he'll absolutely be in the MVP conversation. He's coming off his best season as a passer, and his supporting cast is even better than it was last year. He's got a more aggressive-minded coach, and he's got continuity and chemistry with his offensive coordinator. I think he's also probably got a chip on his shoulder because of the way his contract negotiations ended this summer. Put all that together and it should make for a heck of a season. Between rushing and passing, I think he'll score at least 40 touchdowns. And while I doubt he tops his 4,900 yards from last year, I think he'll be more efficient as a passer. And yes, since wins are what matters, I think this performance will be good enough to guide the Cowboys into the playoffs.
Better Stats For Dak
Mickey Spagnola: Dak Prescott was awfully good last year, throwing for more yards in a single season (4,902) than any quarterback in Cowboys history and nearly had a 3-to-1 TD to INT ratio (30-11), with a 99.7 QB rating. Well, for 2020, I expected him to be even better this season. He's been awfully sharp in training camp, and even though he's gone through an emotional off-season and even though his reps did not settle on a long-term contract, this guy is one of the best "now" quarterbacks, staying in the moment, and there are going to be some great moments with this cast of offensive characters.