The NFC East has been a carousel between two teams since 2016. The Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles have exchanged division titles for the last four years and if history is looking to repeat itself, the Cowboys are up next.
With NFL training camps underway, rosters trimmed to 80 and practices beginning, the conversations and predictions have begun for the 2020 Dallas Cowboys. Pro Football Focus has the club winning the NFC East in 2020.
NFC EAST: DALLAS COWBOYS
The NFC East should be a two-horse race between the Cowboys and the Eagles, but there are just too many things pointing in Dallas’ favor right now. The coaching change should immediately make this team significantly better, given the biggest charge against them recently has been underachieving, and the draft they had just puts them over the top.
PFF eludes to the hiring of Mike McCarthy and a phenomenal 2020 NFL Draft as the factors to put this team over the top. Adding wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb to an already explosive offense which ranked No. 1 in 2019 could be the missing piece the team is looking for to compete in high scoring affairs.
McCarthy didn’t come alone when he was hired as the Cowboys 9th head coach in the team’s history. He brought an entire coaching staff in efforts to bring the Cowboys back to greatness in 2020.
PFF more than just division winners. The Cowboys will secure the NFC East but will not lock in the No. 1 seed which is the only position that gives a team a bye in the new playoff format. This goes to the New Orleans Saints. Based off the Wild Card predictions this will have the Cowboys hosting either their division rival Philadelphia Eagles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead by Tom Brady and a new revamped offense or taking on the defending NFC Champions, San Francisco 49ers.
There were two predictions that could raise eyebrows for Cowboys fans. One being that the Washington Football Team rookie defensive end Chase Young wins Rookie of The Year.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: EDGE CHASE YOUNG, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Quarterbacks have the easiest track to rookie of the year honors, but the lack of a preseason this year will harm them right out of the gate, in my opinion. We may not see Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert for most of the year, leaving Joe Burrow to try and flourish behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.
At that point, it’s a free for all, but Chase Young has the chance to be special at the NFL level, and the history of players with a similar college grading profile (Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa, etc.) is to hit the ground running. Last season, Nick Bosa broke the rookie record with 80 total pressures, and Young’s college grades were slightly better over their careers at Ohio State. For an outside bet, I’d go with Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Laviska Shenault — the forgotten man (don’t underestimate how explosive he can be in a limited role).
To Cowboys fans this means a big year out of the No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. They can only hope offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins step up to the plate to keep quarterback Dak Prescott upright in their two meetings this season.
The other prediction that is intriguing is that the Washington Football Team’s current back-up quarterback Alex Smith wins Comeback Player of The Year. With this award it was either given by default based off the incredible journey back to an NFL roster, or, the comeback was so strong that Washington head coach Ron Rivera thought starting Smith would give the Washington Football Team the best chance to be successful in 2020.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB ALEX SMITH, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
If Alex Smith so much as makes the Washington Football Team roster, he should be guaranteed the Comeback Player of the Year award. This one isn’t about grades, or stats or advanced data. It’s about the fact that an infection resulting from his devastating leg break almost cost him that leg entirely. Anyone who watched ESPN’s documentary on his recovery, Project 11, would agree that making it back onto an active NFL roster would be one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, regardless of whether he makes it any further.
Predictions are a fun way to get a rise out of fans. The Cowboys winning the NFC East is the prediction here, but most of Cowboys Nation are expecting bigger and better things right away.