Team Capsules: Dallas Cowboys

July 24, 2023

A look at every NFL franchise heading into the 2023 season

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

What better way to start than with America’s Team? Okay, maybe if the year was 1995.

The Cowboys are actually very good at football; they just can’t win the big game. The last time they even played in the NFC Championship Game, Bill Clinton was the President of the United States. 

Dallas has gone 12-5 in each of the last two seasons, but they managed only 12 points in a bitterly disappointing divisional round loss to San Francisco in the playoffs. The year before, it was the same result against the same team, except it was a wild card defeat at the hands of the 49ers, 23-17.

Will this be the year the Lombardi Trophy finally returns to one of the most famous teams in pro sports? Let’s find out. 

What to like about the Cowboys…

  • Dallas was fourth in the NFL a season ago at 27.5 points per game, trailing only the Chiefs (29.2), Bills (28.4) and Eagles (28.1). Obviously, two of those teams in Kansas City and Philadelphia went on to play a thrilling Super Bowl. Dallas can score with the best of them.
  • CeeDee Lamb is one of the most-electrifying young wide receivers in the game. The former Oklahoma star was sixth in the NFL last year in yards, catching 1,359 worth of them. He also hauled in nine touchdowns, also a tie for sixth. As long as he’s on the field, the Cowboys have a chance for a big play. 
  • Running back Tony Pollard is more than ready to breakout as a star. With Ezekiel Elliott no longer blocking his path for carries, Pollard should thrive. He was 16th in the NFL in yards at 1,007 on only 193 carries. For perspective, leader Josh Jacobs had 340. Pollard’s 5.2 yards per attempt trailed only Green Bay’s Aaron Jones (5.3) for backs who consistently toted the rock. 

What not to like about the Cowboys…

  • Head coach Mike McCarthy is a winner… in the regular season. He boasts a 254-155 record, good for an impressive .614 winning percentage. But McCarthy had Aaron Rodgers for more than a decade with the Packers and only won one Super Bowl. His playoff record is just 11-10. 
  • Injuries have been a problem for quarterback Dak Prescott in two of the last three years. He missed five games in 2022 thanks to a right thumb injury. He played in just five games total in 2020 because of a broken ankle. Both weren’t the fault of Prescott, but they do raise some questions about his durability. The Cowboys are going nowhere this year if backup Cooper Rush has to play a significant amount of time. 
  • The NFC East is an absolute beast. As mentioned, the Eagles went to the Super Bowl after posting a 14-3 regular season record last season. The Giants were the darlings of the NFL, making the playoffs and upsetting the Vikings in the wild card round. And even the Commanders went 8-8-1 and now have a new and stable ownership. The division will be a gauntlet for Dallas. 

Steve Quinne’s Pick… Cowboys over 10 wins (-120)

Despite the tough NFC East schedule, the Cowboys have proven they can win in the regular season. They have a dynamic offense, McCarthy is a good coach September through December and Prescott, Lamb and Pollard can cook. Games against the Cardinals, Patriots Rams and Panthers are gifts from the scheduling gods. Look for Dallas to match its total of 12 victories each of the last two years, easily covering this number without a Week 18 sweat.