Dallas Cowboys 2021-2022 Season Preview, Odds and Win Totals

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is back and healthy for the 2021-2022 NFL regular season.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is back and healthy for the 2021-2022 NFL regular season. / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For as much as the NFL is all about perceived innovation on offense, the Dallas Cowboys of 2020 were reflective of a basic football idiom that still holds true: if your defense stinks, you won’t go far.

En route to a 6-10 season under newly hired coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys warts on the defensive side of the ball could only be covered up by Dak Prescott for so long. He was brilliant in the early portion of the season before suffering a gruesome ankle injury in Week 5 against the Giants that cost him the rest of the year. Through five games, Prescott had thrown for an average of 371.2 passing yards per game along with 12 total touchdowns (9 passing, 3 rushing) and four interceptions. Despite their 2-3 record, the defense had just completed it’s fourth consecutive game allowing more than 400 total yards and an average of 40 points per game. 

After Prescott went down, the defense eventually began to improve, but the offense led by backup quarterback Andy Dalton fluctuated. Despite finishing 8th overall in passing yards, the Cowboys finished just 17th in points, and 19th in touchdowns.

Ezekiel Elliott had his first season since 2017 without 1,000 rushing yards from scrimmage (he missed six games due to suspension that season). He arrived in camp in terrific shape ready for a bounceback year.

There were a few positives to take away from 2020, as their three-headed monster attack at receiver all stayed healthy throughout the course of the season. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup played in all 16 games, combining for 225 receptions and 2,892 receiving yards. With a healthy Prescott and Elliott, the Cowboys offense has a shot to be among the best in the NFL in 2021.

Dallas Cowboys 2021 Outlook

Armed with two surgeries on his dislocated right ankle, Prescott enters 2021 with both a new outlook and bill of health, as well as a shiny new contract: four years, $160 million. While terrific in limited action last season, the Cowboys would actually prefer Prescott to not have to throw for over 370 passing yards per game, as Dallas found themselves trailing frequently in his games.

His offensive line should look better this season as well, with their starters missing 36 games last year. The health of left tackle Tyron Smith as well as La’el Collins on the right side will be paramount to keeping Dak on the field for more than five games.

As for the rest of Dallas’ offense, Tony Pollard is a legitimate 1-B to Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard in limited action averaged more rushing yards per attempt than Elliott, and scored four rushing touchdowns in 101 attempts, compared to six in 244 attempts to his starting counterpart. 

Their receivers also have a chance to be among the best in the league, with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup all returning. 

On defense, via Athlon Sports, the Cowboys allowed the most points ever in season history last year as former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn steps in for Mike Nolan at defensive coordinator for Mike McCarthy. 

Up front, the Cowboys must generate more pressure to have a chance. DeMarcus Lawrence led Dallas with 6.5 sacks last year, but much more is expected of the 28-year old defensive end. Jaylon Smith led the way with over 154 combined tackles at the linebacker position, but also needs to showcase major improvement in the middle. In the secondary, Trevon Diggs played well in the second half of the season, but needs more help both at the opposing corner spot as well as at safety.

Dallas Cowboys 2021 NFL Draft

Throughout the entire offseason, the Cowboys were projected to grab one of the top cornerbacks in the draft at pick No. 10, but then the Panthers surprised most pundits with cornerback Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina, and Patrick Surtain was taken next by Denver at No. 9, leaving Dallas with a big of egg on their face. Instead, they traded down with their division rival Eagles and took linebacker Micah Parsons out of Penn State 12th overall, which will also make a strong immediate impact on a position of need.

Dallas then grabbed their cornerback in round 2 with Kelvin Joseph out of Kentucky, and continued to bolster their struggling defense throughout the course of the draft. Osa Odighuizuwa, a defensive lineman from UCLA went to the Cowboys at No. 75, followed by Chauncey Golston, a pass rusher from Iowa at pick No. 84.

Dallas Cowboys Odds: Division (+135), Conference (+1400), Super Bowl (+2800)

While the NFC East was considered the worst division in football a season ago, the Cowboys, despite being the favorites are not running away with the pack.

WynnBET Sportsbook has Dallas at +135 odds to win the division, with Washington in second at +240. The Giants are ranked third at +325 and the Eagles just behind them at +475.

The Cowboys are tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the 6th-lowest odds to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl at +1400 odds, and are doubled to win Super Bowl 56 at odds of +2800.

Dallas Cowboys Regular Season Win Total: 9.5 WINS | OVER (+100), UNDER (-120)

Ben Heisler:

The Cowboys' offense is terrific, and while assuming health is always a questionable decision in the NFL, I expect Prescott, if healthy, to put up top 5 numbers with the barrage of weapons he has around him. In fact, WynnBET is very bullish on him as an MVP candidate this season.

I'm a believer that Ezekiel Elliott will put up better numbers this year with the improved health around the offensive line, and Dallas doesn't want Prescott to have to throw 40+ times a game if they don't have to. The juggernaut offensive numbers last year were a result of the Cowboys being down big and having to take more chances down the field than they typically would like.

My big concern remains the defense. Dan Quinn as DC over Mike Nolan is a serviceable upgrade, but his defenses in Atlanta also got gashed the last two seasons. In 2019, Quinn, who served as both head coach and defensive coordinator ranked 23rd in points allowed, 22nd in passing yards and 23rd in touchdowns. While the Cowboys addressed several areas of need on defense in the draft, it's unfair to expect multiple picks to all of a sudden make immediate impacts on a team that was among the worst in the NFL last year.

This will be a close division race yet again, but I think the Cowboys can get to the 10-win mark as long as Prescott and the offense remain healthy.



Donnavan Smoot:

As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, there is nothing I hate more than giving the Cowboys praise, but here it goes. Dallas is going to win the NFC East. The most important position in the NFL is quarterback and the Cowboys have their quarterback healthy again. Prescott is back and Dallas’ offense will certainly reflect that. 

Dallas has the second-easiest schedule in the league, mainly due to the poor play of the NFC East. However, the Cowboys should be solid enough to come out on top. 

Any other team with a Pro Bowl quarterback, great weapons and a bad division would be considered Super Bowl contenders. While Cowboys fans who wear jean shorts and “Flint” Jordan 13s think this is their year, the defense will let them down. The Cowboys allowed 386.4 yards per game last season, 23rd in the league, and allowed the 5th-most points per game in the league (29.6).

If the Cowboys had a defense, I would trust them a little more. I see Prescott having to force the ball down the field to get Dallas back into games, which limits the Cowboys ceiling for me. 



Peter Dewey:  

Dak Prescott is back and healthy for the Dallas Cowboys and they’re currently the favorites on WynnBET to win the always entertaining NFC East at +135 odds. 

Dallas will have the NFL’s second easiest schedule based on 2020 win percentage (.452) and I’d expect them to take advantage if their defense can hold up. Last season, Dallas’ high-powered offense looked unstoppable with Prescott under center, but the Cowboys putrid defense cost them games all season long. 

Dallas finished the year allowing the 10th-most yards and fifth-most points in the NFL. Drafting Micah Parsons in the first round should help, but Dallas has a lot of unproven commodities still on that side of the ball. 

Despite that, I believe in Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup to live up to the expectations on offense. WynnBET has Dallas tied for the sixth-best odds to lead the NFL in scoring in 2021 at +1500, and I think that actually may be a value if their defense forces them into shootouts this season. 

As long as Dak stays healthy, the Cowboys should dominate a questionable NFC East, and go over their win projection. 



Iain MacMillan:

People forget that Dak Prescott was on pace to smash the NFL record for most passing yards in a season before going down with an injury last year. Now he’s healthy and has a full arsenal of offensive weapons to choose from. Ezekial Elliott, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, there’s no question Dallas will have one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2021.

Yes, their defense still needs some work, but first round draft pick Micah Parsons will hopefully provide them with some of the help they need. They also signed Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal, which will help their secondary as long as Neal can stay healthy.

Then comes the obvious. The Cowboys play in the worst division in the NFL, and it’s theirs to lose despite going only 6-10 in 2020. 

If they can stay healthy this season, and hold it together on defense, I see no reason why they can’t be a playoff contender come January.



Will the Dallas Cowboys Make the Playoffs? | MISS THE PLAYOFFS (+115), MAKE THE PLAYOFFS (-145)

Ben Heisler:

Sadly, one team from the NFC East will make the postseason despite likely putting up a very pedestrian win/loss record. The Cowboys are a few injuries from taking a 10-7 team to going 7-10 very easily.

The main issue is I don't trust anyone in the division. Washington has a very solid defense, and good weapons on offense, but Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't the quarterback that takes a team to the next level. The Giants are a try-hard team still in need of more talent on both sides of the ball, and the Eagles just don't want to give their best quarterback the starting spot in Jalen Hurts. It's chaos!

Ultimately, I stand with the Cowboys to squeak out a division victory and grab a playoff spot that's likely deserved by someone else.


Donnavan Smoot:

The Cowboys are going to make the playoffs. They are the best team in the division, but I can see either Washington or New York making the race tighter than it should be. It’s going to take a lot for Dallas to lose the division, and I don’t see it happening.

The NFL almost always has a team that goes from worst-to-first, and the Cowboys would be my favorite pick to do that this year. Now, I don’t see Dalas going far in the postseason, but the appearance is still a big accomplishment. 

If Dallas misses the playoffs, this season will be a ginormous disappointment. The division doesn’t have a clear leader and offensively, Dallas has the best unit. 


Peter Dewey: 

Dallas is the best team in the NFC East, and I’d expect them to win the division and grab a playoff berth. While Washington won the division in 2020, the Football Team did it with just seven wins, and I don’t think they’ll be able to get away with a .500-type of season this year. 

The Cowboys will benefit from finishing in third in the division last season with their easier schedule, and as long as they take care of business in the division, there isn’t much that should stop them from at least appearing in the playoffs this season.

While they’re -145 to make the postseason, betting on Dallas to win the division at +135 odds is the better bet given the fact that the NFC East doesn’t have another true contender unless Ryan Fitzpatrick turns Washington’s offense into a juggernaut. 


Iain MacMillan:

I would be absolutely shocked if a team from the NFC East is able to grab one of the wild card spots this season. That includes the Dallas Cowboys.

Do I think they will make the playoffs? Yes. But I think that will only come by winning the NFC East. Washington has too many question marks on offense, the Giants have question marks everywhere, and the Eagles are rebuilding.

Meanwhile, the NFC West is stacked and will take up at least one wild card spot. Then the other two will be up for grabs between the other two NFC West teams, the Saints, the Falcons, and the Vikings. There will only be one NFC East team in the postseason this year, mark my words.

My prediction is that they will certainly make the playoffs, but you’d be better off betting on them to win the division at a better price.



Every day from the start of NFL Training Camp, the BetSided team of Ben Heisler, Donnavan Smoot, Peter Dewey and Iain MacMillan are breaking down the win totals, playoff and Super Bowl odds for every team in the NFL.

Check back Saturday at 1 p.m. EDT when we preview the betting outlook for the Washington Football Team and check out our earlier team-by-team betting previews.


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