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Dallas Cowboys Betting – Defense Will Keep “Big D” Out Of The Playoffs

Posted by Stan Simmons on 7/8/2011 6:29:20 PM
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Dallas always gets the attention of online betting players, as they’re arguably the most popular team in the league, but they have their fair amount of detractors as well. The Cowboys had an inconsistent 2010, and while this year may be more steady, the defense still has a year to go before Dallas can be a real Super Bowl betting threat.

Head Coach: Jason Garrett
Offensive Coordinator: John Garrett/Hudson Houck
Defensive Coordinator: Rob Ryan 
Owner: Jerry Jones
Stadium: Cowboys Stadium
Capacity: 80,000 (expandable to 111,000)
Super Bowl Wins: 5

Offense

The Dallas offense was all over the place in 2010 when it comes to personnel, but they managed to still finish seventh in the league, coming in sixth in passing and 16th in rushing. Quarterback Tony Romo went down in Week 7 with a broken clavicle, and Jon Kitna took over the rest of the way, but Romo should back and healthy this season. He’ll have a slew of targets in receivers Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Dez Bryant, who showed glimpses of brilliance in his rookie year, but he was battling injury. Still, he may be the most talented offensive player that the cowboys have. Felix Jones earned the majority of carries in the backfield, but Marion Barber and Tashard Choice provide valuable depth, and the Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray out of Oklahoma. Their big move may have been in the draft, when Dallas took UFC tackle Tyron Smith, as no one wants to see Romo on the sidelines for an extended amount of time again.

Jason Garret was promoted from coordinator to head coach after Wade Phillips was fired following a 1-7 start, and some say that he was holding back the offense in order to take Phillips’ job. There isn’t a lot of basis for this theory, but the Dallas offense did look very good in the second half of the season, taking more chances than they ever did. With Romo back, look for more of the same this season, but the line has to improve, and a little more balance with the running game would be beneficial, because they have the horses back there.

Grade: B

Defense

The Cowboys finished 23rd in total defense, and that was the main reason that their NFL betting odds were doomed from the start, not the Romo injury or even the coaching saga. That is why Rob Ryan (brother of Jets’ coach Rex, son of defensive legend Buddy) was brought in from Cleveland, who finished one spot ahead of the Cowboys in the rankings. Dallas was 12th against the run, and they have a solid linebacking core with Keith Brooking and Brodie James, and while DeMarcus Ware remains one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, he is always getting better at pursuing running plays. Tackle Jay Jay Ratliff holds down the line, while ends Igor Olshansky and Stephen Bowen tie up blockers to let the linebackers do their thing. The linebackers are also getting some help as Sean Lee showed potential, although he suffered some knocks, and the Cowboys also drafted Bruce Carter out of North Carolina. Brooking and James are 35 and 30, respectively, so the Cowboys have to plan for the future.

However, Dallas’ pass defense was abysmal, and that’s being generous. The Cowboys were 26th in the league against the pass, as Terrence Newman is now 32 years old and in decline, and Mike Jenkins simply isn’t very good at the other corner. Gerald Sensabaugh is a free agent and has to be kept, but a replacement for Alan Ball at the other safety position would be good.

Grade: C+

Special Teams

The Cowboys weren’t successful returning kicks, coming in 23rd, but they were second in the punt-return game, with Bryant and Bryan McCann leading the way. Dallas also can’t cover kickoffs, finishing 27th, but they fared well in covering punts, ranking third.

That was because Mat McBriar led the NFL in average and net punting, and that gives the punt team a chance to get down the field. But the Cowboys are still searching for an answer to their kicker woes as David Buehler was tied for 27th in conversion percentage. They’ve brought 2007 Pro Bowler Kris Brown to challenge him, so hopefully the competition will get Dallas somewhere.

Grade: C

Prediction

The Cowboys are rated at +220 to win the NFC East for the first time since 2009, +700 to win the NFC for the first time since 1995, which was also the last time they won the Super Bowl. Dallas is also +1600 to win it all according to NFL betting odds, and they could be an intriguing darkhorse bet, but they’ll need a lot of things to go right. First, they’re in a tough division which makes it tough to even get into the playoffs, so their games with Philadelphia and the New York Giants will be huge. Second, it’ll be interesting to see how the lockout has affected Garrett’s ability to have a decent camp, his first as a head coach. It does help that the players are used to him already, but being a head coach and a coordinator are two different things.

But the Cowboys have to figure out a way to improve their pass defense, especially in a division where you’ll run into Michael Vick and Eli Manning four times a year. The offense can be as good as it wants to be, but it doesn’t matter if the defense can’t stop anybody. The Cowboys are still a year away from being a pick to win the NFC East in your sports betting book.

2011 Schedule

Week 1 – at New York Jets (Sunday, 8:20 PM ET)
Week 2 – at San Francisco (4:05 PM ET)
Week 3 – vs. Washington (Monday, 8:30 PM ET)
Week 4 – vs. Detroit (1:00 PM ET)
Week 6 – at New England (4:15 PM ET)
Week 7 – vs. St. Louis (4:15 PM ET)
Week 8 – at Philadelphia (Sunday, 8:20 PM ET)
Week 9 – vs. Seattle (1:00 PM ET)
Week 10 – vs. Buffalo (1:00 PM ET)
Week 11 – at Washington (1:00 PM ET)
Week 12 – vs. Miami (Thursday, 4:15 PM ET)
Week 13 – at Arizona (4:15 PM ET)
Week 14 – vs. New York Giants (Sunday, 8:20 PM ET)
Week 15 – at Tampa Bay (Sunday, 8:20 PM ET)
Week 16 – vs. Philadelphia (Saturday, 4:15 PM ET)
Week 17 – at New York Giants (1:00 PM ET)


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