The NFC East has not had a repeat champion since the 2004 season. This is unprecedented in the recent history of the league – the second longest streak in the NFL is AFC North, which last had a repeat champion in 2018. Quite a contrast there! The Dallas Cowboys are looking to buck that trend this season.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and company may have an uphill battle after an offseason of upheaval within the NFC East, where the talent level seems to be trending in the wrong direction for Dallas.
So can they break the streak of the NFC Beast?
What do the Oddsmakers Say?
Currently, the vast majority of sports betting apps in the country have the Boys favored to win the division, albeit by a narrow margin.
FanDuel Sportsbook, for example, has the Cowboys at +125 to win the division, while the projected runner-up Philadelphia Eagles sit at +185. For those who are less familiar with the ins and outs of betting, this is a slim margin for a division winner. Only the AFC North has a slimmer margin between the favorites and the second highest-projected squad.
The State of the Roster
Even the biggest diehard fans would be hard-pressed to say that Dallas’ roster improved over the offseason.
Amari Cooper, La’el Collins, Keanu Neal, and Randy Gregory highlight the biggest departures from Big D. To replace some of this talent, DE Dante Fowler was signed in free agency and offensive tackle Tyler Smith was drafted in the first round.
To replace Cooper, the Cowboys are hoping Dak can push young receivers CeeDee Lamb and the recently re-signed Michael Gallup to new heights. Prescott is coming off of the best statistical season of his career, so another year of improvement is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Dak going from a good quarterback to a great quarterback is the single biggest thing that could change the ultimate fate of the Cowboys’ season. With the overall talent taking a slight dip, it will be necessary.
While the Cowboys roster arguably took a bit of a step back, the rest of the NFC East seems to have improved.
Last year’s runner-up, the Philadelphia Eagles, had a huge offseason. Adding AJ Brown, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, and 1st round pick Jordan Davis to a team that made the playoffs last year has to make them a major threat. They have a young head coach and QB pairing in Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts, so the development of those two will go a long way towards determining their future.
The newly-christened Washington Commanders have improved their roster as well. Although Carson Wentz ended last season as a punchline, there’s little doubt that he’s an upgrade behind center in the nation’s capital. In fact, the Commanders have even been identified as a sleeper pick to win the NFC East.
For the New York Giants, the biggest improvements came off the field. Replacing the disastrous reign of Joe Judge with one of the hottest names of the head coaching hunt, Brian Daboll, will go a long way towards making them more competitive. They’re still not exactly fielding an All-Pro roster, but the improvement on the sidelines should help.
Can the Cowboys Break the Streak?
While bookmakers seem to think so, the scales of talent in the division seem to have shifted significantly.
Still, the Cowboys have the biggest advantage on the field, with Dak Prescott far and away being the best quarterback in the division.
If the rest of the roster can step up to support Dak, then the Cowboys should be in prime position to break the curse of the NFC East.