If week one of the NFL season is any indication, 2019 should be a special year for the Dallas Cowboys.
The team destroyed the New York Giants 35-17 with a spectacular offensive performance that has their fans dreaming for the postseason.
Dak Prescott finished with a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, which included 405 yards and four touchdowns passes. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb combined for 17 receptions, 333 yards and two scores. Tight end Jason Witten came out of retirement and caught three passes, including a four-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Once a franchise that prided itself on defense, the Giants had no answer for slowing down Prescott and the Cowboys. Even Ezekiel Elliott, who had signed his new contract extension less than a week ago, carried the ball just 13 times in the game.
In the last three years, Dallas has relied heavily on Elliott to help shoulder the load for the offense, but he was not needed to guide the team to victory over their rivals.
Dominance not the rule
It is easy to overact to one game, especially if it is the first week of the regular season.
The Cowboys will not dominate every opponent as easily as they manhandled the Giants.
They do, however, have some dangerous new weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
Cobb is clearly an upgrade at the third receiver spot, and the 29-year old had some productive seasons playing in Green Bay. Witten’s return helps their tight end position, a spot that was a glaring weakness last year. Rookie running back Tony Pollard will help ease the workload for Elliott, which should benefit the Cowboys late in the season.
All of them combined with a terrific offensive line will help Prescott thrive in his fourth season as starting quarterback. He should also receive a contract extension in the near future that will make him one of the game’s highest- paid quarterbacks.
Although the Dallas defense did give up 470 yards and 25 first downs against the Giants, they limited them to just 17 points.
The Cowboys have a pair of terrific young linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. They will make plays all season long when DeMarcus Lawrence is not getting through to sack the quarterback. Defensive end Robert Quinn will be back by week three to help out veteran Tyrone Crawford.
In the defensive backfield, safety Xavier Woods was active against the Giants with nine solo tackles while Jeff Heath added seven stops. Cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie will provide stability along with Anthony Brown. The secondary did have four of the five pass breakups against the Giants and they forced a fumble. Expect much better performances for Rod Marinelli’s group in 2019.
Cowboys vs. Eagles
The NFC East will most likely be a two-team race, with the Cowboys and Eagles fighting for the division championship.
The two teams meet in Dallas on Oct. 20, and then in Philadelphia two months later. Anything fewer than 11 wins would be disappointing for a team built to win now and a head coach in Jason Garrett, who is in the final year of his contract.
I would be surprised if the Cowboys do not go deep into the playoffs. Instead, I predict 12 wins and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.