Cowboys top draft pick, Ezekiel Elliot, is projected to start the season atop the team’s running back depth chart
The Dallas Cowboys begin the season looking strong on offense but thin on defense, putting the weight of the franchise on Tony Romo and his frail left collarbone.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 4-12 SU and 4-11-1 ATS
Over/Under: 6-10 O/U
Noteworthy: Dallas averaged just 1.0 passing TDs per game in 2014, their lowest since 2003. Before that, they had been on a three-year run of consecutive gains (1.81, 2.06 and 2.28).
Romo threw for 356 yards in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants last season, matching his total number of 300-plus-passing games from 2014. That’s where the similarities between Romo’s past two seasons end, and as the Cowboys look to regain the swagger of their 2014 playoff campaign, Romo clearly needs to stay on the field.
His offense will be helped this year by Ezekiel Elliot, the team’s first-round pick. O-Co Scott Linehan called Elliot a full-package back, and he’s fronted by an elite O-Line. Elliott is taking first team reps throughout the summer while Darren McFadden (elbow) recovers and with WR Dez Bryant (and Romo) back, this unit has ‘top five’ potential.
Assuming the Cowboys offense gets back on track, the safest play this season for bettors could perhaps be on the “Over”. LB Rolando McClain along with defensive ends Randy Gregory and and DeMarcus Lawrence will all begin 2016 under suspension. The three combined for 146 tackles, 10 sacks, a forced fumble and an INT last season. Significant when you consider the Cowboys only had 31 sacks (T-25th) and ranked dead last in both takeaways (11) and turnover margin (-22).
The first opportunity is Week 1, home against the New York Giants. Early odds favor Dallas by -3.5 and O/U 49, and as home chalk during a first divisional meeting of the season, the Cowboys are 10-5 O/U in recent years (3-1 O/U if Bryant catches at least five balls).
COWBOYS BETTING LINE: SANDWICH SHOP
The Cowboys face four teams this season that will be in a divisional ‘sandwich’ situation, most of any NFL team. The games are Week 4 (at Niners), Week 10 (at Steelers), Week 11 (vs. Ravens) and Week 15 (at Bucs). On the road, Dallas is 13-6-1 ATS in this situation including a 7-1 ATS record since 2001. They’ll be favored in San Fran and getting points at Pittsburgh.