Dallas Cowboys predictions, odds, and preview for the 2023 season

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Dallas Cowboys 2023 season preview and predictions

This appeared in the original VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on June 29, 2023.

 

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Dave Tuley: The Cowboys’ 2022-23 season was incredibly impressive on many levels, but in the end, they were overshadowed by the Eagles despite going 12-5 and making the playoffs for the second straight season for the first time since 2006-2007. DraftKings has the Cowboys at +1400 in its Super Bowl futures, more than double the price of the Eagles at +650. However, they’re still only +600 to win the NFC behind only the Eagles (+250) and NFC West favorite 49ers (+425) and ahead of the NFC’s other divisional faves in the Lions (+1000) and Saints (+1300).

Offense

The Cowboys had one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, averaging 25.9 points per game (ranked No. 4) despite Dak Prescott starting only 12 games. After Dallas lost Game 1 to the defending champion Buccaneers, they upset the Bengals as 7.5-point underdogs behind backup Cooper Rush as Prescott was recovering from a thumb injury. The defense was stepping up, but Rush was more than a game manager as he kept leading to Cowboys to wins before suffering his first career loss as a starter in Week 6 at the Eagles. Prescott resumed the starting role and threw for 2,860 yards and 25 TDs.

Tony Pollard led the Cowboys with 1,007 rushing yards last season, with Ezekiel Elliott adding 837. It was clearly a changing of the guard as Pollard averaged a robust 5.2 yards per carry while the aging Elliott averaged just 3.8. The Cowboys released Elliott on March 15, so Pollard takes over the bell-cow(boy) role. Dallas also added former Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones, so the two-headed attack should continue behind the Cowboys’ strong offensive line.

CeeDee Lamb led the Cowboys with 107 catches for 1,359 yards. They expected more from Michael Gallup as he had just 39 receptions in 14 games for just 424 yards and 4 TDs, though he did grab 5 for 46 yards and a TD in the playoff win over the Buccaneers. Prescott gets another weapon in slot receiver Brandin Cooks, who comes over from Houston, though Prescott loses his safety valve TE Dalton Schultz, who signed with the Texans. Second-year TE Jake Ferguson is expected to step in after backing up Schultz last year with 19 catches and 2 TDs.

Defense

While the Dallas offense put up impressive numbers, it was the defense that carried the team during Prescott’s absence. While they ranked No. 13 at 333.2 yards allowed per game and No. 6 at 19.7 points per game, where coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense really excels is in taking the ball away from their opponents. After leading the NFL with 34 takeaways in 2021, the Cowboys forced 33 last season to become the first team to lead the league in turnovers in back-to-back seasons since Pittsburgh’s “Steel Curtain” in 1972-1974.

Micah Parsons led the Cowboys with 14 sacks last season and was second to San Francisco’s Joey Bosa for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s the early betting favorite this year. The Cowboys were No. 1 in pressure rate in addition to Parsons and ranked third in sacks behind only the Super Bowl teams, the Eagles and Chiefs, with a lot of depth from Demarcus Lawrence, Sam Williams, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr., plus linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.

The Cowboys already had ballhawk CB Trevon Diggs and now add five-time Pro Bowler Stephon Gilmore (who was also the 2019 Player of the Year) in a trade from the Colts for just a fifth-round pick.  

Outlook

The Cowboys are expected to challenge the Eagles for the division title in the NFC East, which hasn’t had a repeat champion in 18 years. The Cowboys look like a value play at +190 to win the division. That also means we expect them to go Over their Season Win Total of 9.5. That’s juiced at -165 at DraftKings, as they obviously expect the Cowboys to get to double digits. If you expect the Cowboys to need to get to 11 wins anyway to contend for the NFC East crown, you might as well go Over 10 at around even money. RECOMMENDATION: Over 10 wins.

This appeared in the Updated VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on August 31, 2023.

Michael Lombardi: The Cowboys enter the 2023 season riding a two-year playoff run. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but they haven’t had a three-year run since 1996. The Cowboys have never been the model of consistency. During his nine-plus seasons as the head coach of the Cowboys, Jason Garrett never had back-to-back playoff appearances and only went to the playoffs three times, each time losing in the divisional round. The last NFC Conference game the Cowboys played in was 1995, their last Super Bowl season. We often mistake the Cowboys as a consistent winner which they aren’t. 

Based on the preseason, the Cowboys have tried to correct their problems from a year ago. They are better in the secondary, have more depth in their defensive front, and can handle any team on the schedule if their offensive line stays healthy. Their backfield looks solid, as Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn both have displayed excellent running skills to offset the loss of Zeke Elliott. Is this the year the Boys put it all together? On paper, they look great, but based on prior history, I’m not so sure.

Player to Watch: RB Tony Pollard

Mike McCarthy will be calling plays for Dallas this year and he has openly stated that he’ll be leaning heavily on the running game in order to keep his defense fresh. So, with Elliott now on the Patriots, this is Tony Pollard’s show. Pollard is an explosive player and had already been out-producing Elliott on a per-touch basis. Pollard also looked electric during training camp, showcasing his otherworldly quickness and home-run hitting ability. He genuinely seems ready to turn in a career year. However, it should be noted that Pollard fractured his fibula last season and underwent tight rope surgery on his ankle at the start of the year. That said, Dallas could be a little cautious with him early on. – Zachary Cohen

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