DALLAS - I am PRETTY sure that this team is worse than the 12-4 2014 team. I will change my tune if the defense keeps being good, but that’s my guess. Like I said last week – Tony Romo at the top of his game two seasons ago was presumably better than Dak Prescott will ever be. Which isn’t such bad news for Dak since 2014 Tony Romo was among the two or three best players in the league.
But, at the same time, with a 5-1 record in hand, an 8-8 finish, which is what the Boys had every year between 2011 and 2013, would be disastrous at this point. 6-10, the 2010 season, would be worse. So, obviously, this team has the potential to be one of the best Cowboys teams of the last ten years.
Already being among the best teams of the decade for this franchise is not overly surprising, in many respects. These Cowboys have possibly the best offensive line in the league which has helped rookie Ezekiel Elliott position himself as the league's rushing leader by a large margin. Perhaps the surprise is the Cowboys already have the best running back in football but that's why the Cowboys selected Elliott with a top 5 draft pick.
Dallas also has a QB in Prescott who doesn’t make many mistakes and converts his opportunities despite also being a rookie. They, somehow, have a defense that has yet to allow more than 23 points in a single game. With all that stuff, it’s pretty hard to be bad (looking at you Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden). Lot of good stuff going on right now.
Still it’s hard to judge the properly level of goodness, though. You have to look at strength of schedule and that’s also hard to judge. You would think the Packers and the Bengals would be quality opponents but here they are, a combined 5-6. And I take every NFC East win with a grain of salt.
The good news is, if you scan the rest of the schedule and not much jumps out at you. I’m interested in the Philly matchups, obviously, with a rookie QB in Carson Wentz who has so far been traditionally better than Dak.
But besides that battle for the top of the NFC East, the Cowboys are looking at dates against Cleveland, they have the Steelers potentially without Big Ben, and middling Baltimore and Tampa Bay each currently at 3-3. NFC North opponents Minnesota and Detroit won't seem like an automatic loss or anything – it all looks fairly winnable.
But if you’re a franchise whose recent problem has been playoff wins, winnable regular season games are not really the point. The point is how many of the six best teams in the conference can you beat. And that’s a question the Cowboys won’t get many chances to answer this season.
If the playoffs were to begin tomorrow, the top six in the NFC would be the Cowboys, the Vikings, the Seahawks, the Eagles, the Packers, and a fight between several teams at 4-3. It’s a weird list, but the headline here is the Cowboys have only faced the Packers from that list with challenges to come.
So how good are these Cowboys? We may not get a good sense for a bit, but hopefully the team will keep winning and we can reflect on their place among the best of the last 20 or so years.
Are the 2016 Cowboys good, and if so, how good are they? Let Andy know your thoughts on Twitter @andytobo.
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