Photo Courtesy of Ethan Gullet

Photo Courtesy of Ethan Gullet

On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys cut their roster size down to 53. With one week to go before meaningful NFL football begins, this team seems to be headed in the right direction, and by all indications should have a strong season. The Cowboys have considerable talent on both sides of the ball, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them contend for a Lombardi trophy this year.

Dallas performed decently in the preseason, going 2-2 while holding all four opponents to under 18 points. The offense sputtered against the 49ers, Rams and Buccaneers, but that shouldn’t be looked into too much, as several key offensive starters such as Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliot did not participate.

Newly acquired wide receiver Randall Cobb did not get much playing time either, and only managed to catch two passes for 17 yards. Despite this, Cobb should be an important role player when the regular season begins. He may even end up being an upgrade over Cole Beasley, who left for Buffalo in the offseason. Cooper has dealt with a persistent foot injury that has kept him out of practice since August 3, but recent reports indicate that he will be ready to go this week.

Much to the delight of Cowboys fans everywhere, Jason Witten returned to the team after a brief retirement. Witten, a likely hall of famer, knows how to get open and will contribute significantly to the offense.

As for the running backs, Elliott has grabbed most of the headlines this summer, as contract negotiations (or the lack thereof ) have kept him from joining the team. It could be argued that he is the best running back in the league, and the Cowboys offensive engine starts with him. Elliott is seeking a contract that will make him the highest paid running back in the league. Normally, a contract like this would be reasonable, but the Cowboys have two other players that are seeking massive paydays. Dak Prescott and Cooper have also been pushing for extreme contracts, putting the organization in a precarious spot.

Aside from Elliot, the running back position features Alfred Morris and promising rookie Tony Pollard. Pollard has played well throughout the preseason, but the sample size he’s given is still too small, this team absolutely needs Elliott in the mix to reach its full potential. If Elliott isn’t the most important player on offense for this team, then Prescott certainly is. Prescott will need to step his game up this season. He is by all means a fine quarterback, but this team will need more. Prescott needs to be more aggressive and push the ball down the field. With weapons like Cooper and Cobb, as well as the return of Witten and potentially Zeke, Prescott needs to deliver.

The Cowboys offense will most likely flux in and out of good games this season, but the defense will be what carries this team. From the defensive line, to an absolutely spectacular linebacker core, to a deep secondary, no part of this unit is weak. Players like Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Byron Jones and Demarcus Lawrence will cause loads of trouble for opposing offenses. It would not come as a surprise to see this team ranked in the top 5 defensively this year, potentially even first.

This football team is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, but certain complications could cripple their championship run. Elliott’s contract situation could be resolved soon according to some reports, but it’s far from a guarantee. Cooper’s injury should be something to watch for now as well; having him on the field helps the offense enormously and it would be devastating if he had to miss significant time.

New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore must also prove that he can get the most out of his players. The development of Prescott is crucial as well. In the end, the success or failure of the offense will determine the result of the team’s season. IF the offense can become a top ten unit, a rank it certainly has the talent for, then this team can make it to the Super Bowl and win it all. If the offense resembles the one from last year, however, the Cowboys will sink deep into a loaded National Football Conference (NFC) and struggle to make the playoffs.

Dallas starts its season at home against the New York Giants this Sunday, and should be able to win, regardless of weather or not Zeke’s holdout continues.

Dallas. 26-17, in Week 1.
Season Record Prediction: 11-5

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