2021 Team Analysis & Schedule
The Cowboys are coming off a dismal 6-10 campaign in head coach Mike McCarthy’s first season and the 2021 schedule is not an easy one for America’s Team. The NFC East faces the teams from the NFC South and the AFC West while the Cowboys also have road games at New England and Minnesota.
Their first two games are on the road at the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and all the way back across the country at the Los Angeles Chargers. Later in the season, the Cowboys face a three-game road trip at New Orleans, Washington and the New York Giants.
Dallas Cowboys 2021 Schedule
|Week 1||Sept. 09||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Week 2||Sept. 19||at Los Angeles Chargers|
|Week 3||Sept. 27||at Philadelphia Eagles|
|Week 4||Oct. 3||at Carolina Panthers|
|Week 5||Oct. 10||at New York Giants|
|Week 6||Oct. 17||at New England Patriots|
|Week 7||Oct. 24||Bye Week|
|Week 8||Oct. 31||at Minnesota Vikings|
|Week 9||Nov. 7||at Denver Broncos|
|Week 10||Nov. 14||at Atlanta Falcons|
|Week 11||Nov. 21||at Kansas City Chiefs|
|Week 12||Nov. 25||at Las Vegas Raiders|
|Week 13||Dec. 2||at New Orleans Saints|
|Week 14||Dec. 12||at Washington Football Team|
|Week 15||Dec. 19||at New York Giants|
|Week 16||Dec. 26||at Washington Football Team|
|Week 17||Jan. 2||at Arizona Cardinals|
|Week 18||Jan. 9||at Philadelphia Eagles|
Dallas Cowboys News & Picks
Dallas Cowboys 2020 Summary
The Cowboys were already off to a poor 1-3 start when starting quarterback Dak Prescott went down with a season-ending injury against the New York Giants, a game they would ultimately win with two late Greg Zuerlein field goals after backup Andy Dalton replaced Prescott. The story of the team in 2020 wasn’t about the lack of offense, but instead a defense that gave up an average of 386 yards per game and allowed over 400 yards in half their contests. Dallas surrendered 473 points, ranking 28th in the league.
The defense also gave up 34 touchdown passes while recording only 10 interceptions and also allowing opposing teams to rush for five yards an attempt. Despite all that, the Cowboys were still in the playoff hunt until late in the season due to the ineptitude of the NFC East, which was eventually captured by the Washington Football team with a record of 7-9.
Dallas Cowboys Key Players
After signing a four-year, $160 million contract extension, a healthy Prescott at quarterback is a key to the offense. He’s joined in the backfield by running back Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for 979 yards in 2020 and on the outside by wide receiver Amari Cooper, who caught 92 passes for 1,114 yards.
The offensive line was beaten up in 2020 but, when healthy, it is as good as can be found in the NFL. The offense still found a way to score 395 points, good for 17th league-wide. It’s on the defensive side of the ball where the Cowboys need to improve, and their strength is on the outside of the line with DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.
New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will need to find a way to motivate linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith to play up to their enormous potential. That corps will be important because other than second-year standout Trevon Diggs at cornerback, the Cowboys lack talent in the secondary.
Dallas Cowboys New Additions
First-round draft pick Micah Parsons out of Penn State could immediately make a difference in the linebacker corps if he plays anywhere close to his ability. The Cowboys also went with a defensive player in the second round, choosing cornerback Kelvin Joseph from Kentucky, a risky pick who brings some baggage with him.
The Cowboys were quite active in defensive acquisitions, signing safety Keanu Neal from the Atlanta Falcons, inside defensive lineman Brent Urban of the Chicago Bears and edge rusher Tarell Basham from the New YorkJets. Offensively, Dallas didn’t make many moves on offense, but they did try to shore up the thin tight end position by signing former Washington player Jeremy Sprinkle.
Dallas Cowboys Key Subtractions
Backup quarterback Andy Dalton left to presumably take over the starting role with the Chicago Bears, which leaves the Cowboys in search of an experienced and reliable alternative to Prescott. Defensively, they also lost linebacker Joe Thomas, who signed with the Texans, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (Cincinnati Bengals) and safety Xavier Woods (Minnesota Vikings). In addition, veteran linebacker Sean Lee and inside defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford both opted to retire.
The NFC East was, quite frankly, an embarrassment in 2020. None of the teams were particularly competitive outside the division and while it can be assumed there is no way but up for the four franchises, none of them looks particularly improved over last season. The return of Prescott to the Cowboys should add stability, but their defense needs to show significant gains for them to make the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys (+125) are the favorites to win the NFC East, with even odds to be the division’s representative in the playoffs. According to the NFL odds, the Washington Football Team is next at +225, followed by the New York Giants (+400) and Philadelphia Eagles (+500).
The over/under in wins for the Cowboys is 9.5 with odds of -110 for over and -120 for under, Washington is at 8.5 wins and -120/-110, the Giants at 6.5 and -135/+105 and, finally, the Eagles also at 6.5 but with odds of -155/+125. The Cowboys have odds of +1200 to reach the Super Bowl, with Washington at +2200, Philadelphia at +2500 and the Giants getting odds of +2800. More betting information is available in our sportsbook.
Dallas Cowboys Offense
The Cowboys have had one of the elite offenses in the league for several years, first with Tony Romo at quarterback and then followed by Dak Prescott. Elliott’s running ability behind a great offensive line makes them tough to stop on the ground.
The combination of Amari Cooper and Cee Dee Lamb, who caught 74 passes for 935 yards and equaled Cooper’s five touchdowns, also created challenges for defenses to stop through the air. If Dallas’ offensive line and running backs can stay healthy, it has a good chance to put up some very impressive numbers.
If Prescott also plays every game, the lack of a quality backup quarterback may not be important, but unless the Cowboys find someone to replace Dalton or one of the other candidates in camp steps up in a big way, Dallas will find itself vulnerable again.
Dallas Cowboys Defense
Owner Jerry Jones fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after the 2020 season and brought in Quinn, the former Atlanta Falcons head coach and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator, to rejuvenate the unit. The defense was shredded for most of the season, giving up big chunks of yardage both on the ground and through the air.
The lack of a pass rush combined with poor secondary play made it difficult for the Cowboys, regardless of any offense that they could generate, to reliably hold leads. Because the NFC East was so miserable and the Cowboys remained in playoff contention, the defensive ineptitude was somewhat overlooked until the season mercifully ended at 6-10.
There is still plenty of uncertainty around the defense, much of which may not be able to be removed simply by changing the guy in charge. They didn’t seem to make many significant personnel moves and they may be relying on the draft for some improvement, which is not always a great formula in the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys FAQ
What was the Cowboys’ record last year?
The Dallas Cowboys finished the season with a record of 6-10, tied for second in the NFC East with the New York Giants and behind the Washington Football Team.
Were there any changes to the coaching staff for 2021?
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was replaced with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
What are the odds for the Cowboys to win their division and get to the playoffs in 2021?
Dallas is the +125 odds favorite to win the NFC East.
When is the first game for Dallas and who do they play?
The Cowboys open the season on Thursday, Sept. 9 at the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.