2011 NFL Season Predictions: Dallas Cowboys Path to Superbowl XLVI
For the last five years the NFL has been sitting, watching and waiting for the Dallas Cowboys, a team full of talent and star players, to make a legitimate run for the Super Bowl. Each year, the Cowboys are bombarded with expectations of winning the Super Bowl only to fall far short each time.
The 2011 season could finally be that year where they no longer fail but reach the promise land and hoist that Lombardi trophy over their heads.
Here are the tools and weapons that Dallas has to make that Super Bowl run a reality and the path that they will have to walk in order to get there.
QB – Tony Romo
The pressure is somewhat off Romo coming into the 2011 NFL season. I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on that but hear me out.
I know Romo is coming off an injury that made him miss almost the entire 2010 season, and I know that in the six games he did play, he went 1-5, but we need to remember a few things. First, each one of those games was within seven points, all of them were games the Boys could have won. Second the running game was nonexistent, the O-Line was crap (stupid Alex Barron and the stupid hold against the stupid Washington Redskins in stupid Week 1…AH! …who does that?
Why Alex Barron? Why? ALEX BARRON!!!). Romo was the Dallas Cowboys offense in each of those six games; he did it all. This year, Garrett is in charge, and he is most likely going to run a more balanced offensive attack. With the running game playing a more crucial role, and the offensive line playing well, the game will not rest solely on the shoulders of Romo. If this can happen, Romo will feel more comfortable, and the Cowboys will win some more games.
HB – Felix Jones
It’s time…we knew this day was coming…Marion Barber is out, and it’s time for Felix Jones to become that star of this Dallas running attack.
Jones and Choice will make a huge impact as the dynamic-duo, and Garrett will use rookie HB DeMarco Murray to mix things up. With these three backs, Dallas looks like one of the best running teams in the NFL. If Garrett takes advantage of this, the Cowboys are going to have a scary good offense. Scary good.
WR – Miles Austin and Dez Bryant
To be honest, I see Bryant becoming the first choice between him and Miles for Romo in 2011.
Austin will become a deep-threat receiver for Romo because of his powerful legs and elusiveness. Austin can run over and run around most of the DBs in the NFL, and this will create some huge home runs for the Cowboys. Dez is the future of this Cowboys franchise, and with Roy Williams as the No. 3 they look good.
A lot of people say that Williams isn't good...I would disagree. Williams is a great receiver, and he showed this in 2010. In the Saints game, Williams was brilliant, he just had one mistake. He got stripped near the goal line on a play that would most likely win the Cowboys the game…after that, everyone forgot about the game he played and jumped back on the “I hate Roy Williams” bandwagon.
Dallas has one of, if not, the best receiving groups in the NFL . Between Romo, the Jones/Choice combo and the Austin/Bryant duo, Dallas has the potential to be the best Cowboys offense in the team’s history.
TE – Jason Witten
Does he do anything wrong? Seriously? Witten is the ONLY guy on this Cowboys team that has never really disappointed me. Witten will always be a constant contributor to the Cowboys…no ifs ands or buts about it. He is the man.
This might be my boldest prediction for the 2011 Cowboys…the O-Line is going to do great (gasp).
Yup, that’s right, I think the Cowboys offensive line is going to be great in 2011. You know why? Two reasons...
Wade Phillips was soft (literally he’s like the Pillsbury dough boy…only old and not cute); he wasn’t tough enough on his players, and we could see that on the football field. Jason Garrett is. Garrett won’t take crappy blocking, and he will get results. The O-Line was the weakest link in the 2010 Cowboys offense and will be the primary focus during the offseason from the offensive side of things.
I’m going to lump the defense together here. Everyone but the DB’s should improve without changing the lineup because Ryan and Garrett will make them. These guys are tough coaches and expect players of this caliber to play football and play it well. Tough coaching causes tough defense. But as for the secondary…holy crap!
We need some serious help! I believe Newman will be included with the rest of the defense when it comes to improving under Ryan, but that’s only one guy out of the entire secondary. The Cowboys must sign some new DB's, and the best way to do this is to sign BOTH Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Huff. So…here is my attempt at making this happen…
Dear Mr. Jerry Jones
Please sign both Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Huff. You toss around money like nobody’s business...but lately...it hasn’t been helping too much. You have an opportunity to fix all our problems and make us the best team in the NFL… DO IT! Please, if you love the Cowboys… and if you love the fans of the Cowboys, the devoted, never failing fans of the Cowboys you will do this. We put up with all your crap…like getting rid of Jimmy Johnson AND the great late Tom Landry (who by the way is the best coach EVER and you just said…see ya) what the crap man! So do us a favor…sign these guys and fix our secondary.
@ New York Jets
Strengths: Run Game, Pass Defense
The Jets have been only one win away from an AFC Championship the last two seasons, so they’re no slumps, but Dallas has the tools to beat them. The Cowboys can walk away from a win if they run the ball, avoiding Revis is a must. If Dallas lets Jones and Choice run the ball and they don’t turn the ball over, then they can put up some points. On defense, Dallas needs to slow down the running attack and blitz Sanchez. Disrupting the backfield is the key to winning this game.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 24-13 (1-0)
@ San Francisco 49ers
Strengths: Passing Game, Run Defense
Well, the 49ers may not be a hard team to beat…they still have some key players that should not be ignored. Smith should have a much better season in 2011 than he has in the past. Jim Harbaugh will shape him into a great QB, and with a target like Davis, the 49ers passing game could be very dangerous. Along with a decent passing attack, the 49ers have some great linebackers in Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis.
If Dallas wants to win this game, they have to put some serious pressure on Smith, force him to make bad throws and Dallas can get some turnovers. On the offensive side of things, running a balanced offensive attack will win the game. Play-action will be helpful, as well as running outside. With speedy backs like Jones and Murray, getting around the tackles can pick up huge chunks of yards against this 49ers defense. Utilizing the deep pass with Austin will also make for some big plays.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 34-10 (2-0)
The Redskins are in a rebuilding stage and have been for the last 12 years, but this could be the worst they have ever been. No running game, no QB (unless they get a good free-agent pick like Kolb), no great defenders other than Hall. Dallas is going to have a great time racking up the points. On defense, blitz and blitz often, force turnovers, and they could get a shutout.
On the offensive side, run the play-action all day. They can’t stop the run, and as soon as they try, Dallas can take it to the air and burn them deep. This is going to be a fun one to watch…cause I really don’t like the Redskins and seeing Dallas run up the score would make me just so happy.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 42-0 (3-0)
Strengths: Passing Offence, Run Defense
With Suh and Fairley, the Lions became relevant in the NFL.
Say goodbye to running up the middle…and with Stafford healthy and tossing the ball to Calvin Johnson… this is going to be a hard game. On defense, Dallas needs to put pressure on Stafford and play tight on Johnson. Eliminate Johnson as an option and Stafford doesn’t have a guaranteed option. Best is a good back too; he’s no slouch, watch for the run with the middle linebackers; that’s the only way to beat this offence.
On the flip side, Suh and Fairley are really the only tools Detroit has on defense. Dallas can use their speedy backs to run the ball outside, and they can pass the ball all day on the weak Detroit secondary.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 27-24 (4-0)
Week off... time to sit back and enjoy a 4-0 record...
@ New England Patriots
Strength: Passing offense, passing defense
This will be the hardest game Dallas will have to play. The Patriots are a great team, and they don’t show much sign of slowing down.
Brady is going to be an issue, and no matter how much pressure Dallas sends at him, he’s still going to get the ball to the open receiver. When he’s not tossing the ball, the Pats are running with the Law Firm. Defensively, Dallas needs to shut down Brady’s options, don’t give him somebody to throw to, if Dallas can do that and send pressure at Brady, they can stop the Patriots dangerous passing game.
The linebackers have to watch out for New England’s great TEs, and they need to look to stop the run. It’s not going to be any easy game for the Dallas D. On offense, clock management is how the Cowboys can walk away with a win. Running the ball and keeping the clock ticking keeps the ball moving and out of the hands of Tom Brady. If Dallas can do all these things, they can beat the Patriots and make headlines, but I don’t think it’s going happen…as much as I hate to say it… Dallas is going to lose…
Outcome: Dallas Loses 10-17 (4-1)
St. Louis Rams
Strength: Passing offense, running defense
The Rams are going to be a great team someday…just not in 2011.
Bradford is a great quarterback and can pull this Rams team really far (especially considering he gets to play the Cardinals and the Seahawks twice each), but in reality, the Rams don’t have any targets for him to throw to, and on defense, they aren’t really that scary, at least not for the Dallas Cowboys offense.
Dallas needs to put some pressure on Bradford, force bad throws, and they can get some turnovers. Dallas can pass the ball a lot against the Rams, Romo can dump the ball off to Jones, Choice, Witten, Bryant, Austin and Murray and let them break some tackles and work their way up field, and Dallas will win this game for sure.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 31-6 (5-1)
@ Philadelphia Eagles
Strengths: Passing offense, passing defense
This is going to be two of the hardest games for the Cowboys. But they can put together a win if they stay focused. Vick is dangerous; he is more than just a running QB. He can pass now, and he’s got a great target in DeSean Jackson. Dallas needs to play zone to contain the speedy Jackson, and they can’t afford to blitz because Vick can outrun everyone on the Dallas D. Keeping a spy on Vick and not allowing the long ball will stop the Eagles offense.
On the other side of things, the Eagles don’t have a terrible defense, but Dallas can wear them down and out play them. If Dallas keeps the ball moving with a balanced running attack and the occasional deep pass and they don’t turn the ball over, then they can walk away with a win. But playing in Philly is not easy task. Philadelphia will most likely win this game, but Dallas will put up a great fight
Outcome: Dallas Loses 24-28 (5-2)
Strengths: Running offense
With the possible departure of Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks lost a big piece of their offense. Marshawn Lynch can be a big impact player and will most likely be their primary weapon. Defensively, the Seahawks aren’t too great. Dallas can stop the run easy, that’s the only thing Seattle has, and offensively, they can really do whatever they want, so long as they keep away from Tatupu.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 38-3 (6-2)
When the Detroit Lions went 0-16, I thought, there is no way a team can ever be this bad…then I considered the Buffalo Bills and their 2011 season. I don’t think Detroit will be the only 0-16 team after the 2011 season folks. They are that bad, and Dallas is going to do whatever they want…all day. The best part about playing the Bills after killing the Seahawks is that next week, Dallas plays the Redskins. HA! This schedule is just way too easy.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 45-0 (7-2)
@ Washington Redskins
Outcome: Dallas Wins 35-10 (8-2)
Strengths: Running offense
The Dolphins could be good in 2011, but with what could be the loss of their running duo and an inconsistent leader at the quarterback position, I doubt it.
In order to win, Dallas needs to blitz a lot, cause confusion for whoever the QB is and force him to make poor choices. If Miami’s running duo isn’t back, then they should be able to control the run. Miami’s D isn’t anything special either. Dallas will be able to score at will against another soft team.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 34-9 (9-2)
@ Arizona Cardinals
Strengths: Passing offense
Depending on who goes to Arizona next year as their new QB, Dallas won’t have much of a challenge. Sending the blitz will force bad throws, and covering Larry tight takes away the only real threat. Much like Miami, Washington, Buffalo and Seattle, the Cardinals defense isn’t going to be able to do anything to this Cowboys offense. Dallas should be able to score at will.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 45-6 (10-2)
New York Giants
Strengths: Running offense, running defense
I always love the Giants-Cowboys game for two reasons 1) they are usually fighting over the No. 1 spot in the NFC East and 2) my little brother is a Giants fan, and we get to fight about who’s going to win all week long two times every season.
Depending on if New York can keep both of their running backs or even one will determine if they will be good. Manning can keep the team a float if he needs to, but he isn’t his brother, and they won’t be able to be a dominating force solely on the arm of Eli. Dallas is more talented on both sides of the ball. They will be able to control this game, but it won’t be easy especially considering it's late in the season and Dallas, New York and Philly are all probably fighting against each other for the NFC East title.
Dallas has to keep the pressure on Eli and force him to make poor decisions. Romo is going to have to steal the show and light up the Giants secondary using short passes to build yards and then tossing the long bomb to Miles.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 34-28 (11-2)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Strengths: Passing offense, defense
The Bucs quickly rebuilt themselves and are once again a hard team to beat defensively, but they have some holes. Josh Freeman has been great, but he’s still young and with DeMarcus Ware running at him, he won’t do great. In order to win, the Cowboys D can’t allow anything.
From the offensive side of the ball, the Cowboys need to run the ball and slow down the Bucs D, once they do that, they can toss the long ball deep on the opposite side of Barber, and they can score some late-game TDs.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 24-17 (12-2)
After playing a hard defensive team like Tampa, Philly won’t seem as hard the second time around. Dallas will stick to the same game plan as before, running the zone and not allowing any room for Vick to use his feet, and Dallas will come away with a big win that potentially puts them above the Eagles in the NFC East.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 28-17 (13-2)
@ New York Giants
This will be a must-win game for Dallas.
If Dallas can win against the Giants, they will beat the Eagles for the No. 1 spot in the NFC East and clinch the No. 1 spot in the NFC and a bye in the playoffs. Last year, with Wade Phillips as the head coach, Dallas would have lost for sure, but in 2011 with Jason Garrett, Dallas will win (sorry Nate).
It will be close especially considering they’re playing in New York, but Dallas not only wants this win…they need it.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 20-14 (14-2)
After Philadelphia beat the NFC West champion St. Louis Rams in the Wild Card round, they will advance to the Divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
Dallas and Philly will put together a hard-fought game that will be fun to watch, but because Dallas has a better defense and more weapons on offense, Dallas will win and advance to the NFC Championship for the first time in 16 years.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 28-23
The Green Bay Packers will be the hardest team to beat all season long for the Cowboys. As long as Dallas keeps the pressure on Rogers and they don’t allow Driver or Jennings, the Cowboys should stop the Packers offense. The Cowboys offense will be tested against one of the league's hardest defenses. As long as the Cowboys run often and don’t turn the ball over, they can win.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 17-14
New England Patriots
Dallas played the Patriots early in the season, and it resulted in the Cowboys first loss…but this time, Dallas can pull out the victory. Dallas has to be flawless, like any Super Bowl champion team. Ware needs to blitz and force bad throws from Brady, the secondary needs to play tight relentless defense; the defense as a whole can’t miss tackles.
Romo needs to make quick decisions, and they need to be good ones. He needs to get the ball to his star receivers like Dez and Miles. The running game needs to work hard, and the O-Line needs to be on their A game. So long as Dallas does what they’ve been doing all season long, they will win Superbowl XLVI.
Outcome: Dallas Wins 31-28 (Romo is Super Bowl MVP)
Dallas has the skill to win the Super Bowl, as long as the Boys stay focused and keep their goal of a Super Bowl victory in front of them, they will be champions.