Doubt Away: The Dallas Cowboys play better as the underdogs

Amari Cooper #19, Dak Prescott #4, and Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper #19, Dak Prescott #4, and Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

When the expectations are low for the Dallas Cowboys, they usually play their best

Depending on which sports network you watch and listen to, the Dallas Cowboys are either going to win nine games, contend for the NFC East title, and lose out to their rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Or the Cowboys will win in the double-digits, secure the NFC East and make a deep run in the playoffs.

Sadly, majority of critics are in the former group and don’t believe in the Cowboys having a successful  2020 season. And most of those same critics are basing it on the Cowboys lack of success from last season to justify their argument.

The naysayers on ESPN give a plethora of reasons why the Dallas Cowboys will falter. Some argue that the Cowboys defense (particularly the secondary) won’t be any good because it lost its best player in Byron Jones. They then often call the defensive line average at best, even with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe.

Quite frankly, most seem to believe the Eagles are the better team and will win the division with little fight from the Cowboys. I say, that’s all fine and dandy because the Cowboys always play better as the underdogs. And I mean ALWAYS!

Whenever Dallas has been chosen as an underdog to start the season, they proved everyone wrong, including their own fanatical fan base.

One can make an argument that the media should always pick the Cowboys as the underdogs because they simply play better in an underdog role. And the opposite can be said when the expectations are high for the Cowboys in a top-dog role to succeed.

The Cowboys are an easy topic to debate and because of their popularity, I really believe its the go-to for critics because it drives up ratings. It just gets fans hyped to talk about America’s most loved and hated sports franchise.

Seriously, even if you hate the Cowboys, how do you view them as underdogs. Not even the dirty buzzards in Philadelphia believe that nonsense. I say that because the Cowboys are truly one the of the most offensively talented teams in the NFL, if not the best one.

They boast the best running back in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, a versatile runner in Tony Pollard, an All Pro offensive line with Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Zack Martin, two 1,000 yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, and an up and coming tight end in Blake Jarwin.

Also, they have the most criticized franchise quarterback in the league in Dak Prescott (statistically, Dak is a top-10 quarterback in every meaningful category.)

Dallas Cowboys 2020 Improvement

Then Dallas had one of their best draft classes since their dynasty years in the early 1990’s. Dallas drafted ultra-talented wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and hit a homerun when first round talent  Trevon Diggs fell onto their laps in the second round. Dallas hit on other good players like Neville Gallimore, Reggie Robinson, and Bradlee Anae to name a few.

In addition, Dallas signed Aldon Smith to give its pass rush some depth, and there’s a strong chance for fellow edge rusher Randy Gregory to rejoin the team, too.

Then the icing on the cake was the hiring of Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike McCarthy. Dallas improved and upgraded in every way possible. But yet to some, America’s Team is primed to win nine games or less and miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season!?!?

With all of that talent? Wow! Somebody in Vegas is going to make a lot of money!

History suggests otherwise to the doubters, the haters, and any other critic out there. Anytime Dallas has been chosen as an underdog to start the season, they proved everyone wrong, including their own fanatical fan base.

Before the start of the 1991 season, Dallas was seen as a young team, not good enough to make the playoffs. Well, Dallas finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and upset the Mike Ditka led Chicago Bears in Soldier Field 17-13 in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. It was Dallas’ first playoff appearance since 1985 and first playoff win since 1982.

In 1992, Dallas entered the season as a young team that was considered playoff bound, but nothing more than that because the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills were the favorites to play in the Super Bowl. Dallas shocked the world as it beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game and then obliterated the Bills in the Super Bowl en route to winning three Super Bowls in a four-year span.

Back in 2006, after an unknown quarterback named Tony Romo took over for incompetent Drew Bledsoe, Dallas was predicted to miss the playoffs, but Romo  became a franchise quarterback and led Dallas to the playoffs.

Almost a decade later in 2014, Dallas was predicted to finish last in the NFC East. With a defense perceived to be awful and Jason Garrett coming off his third consecutive 8-8 season, the critics had no choice but to place Dallas in the basement of the NFC East.

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However, Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and that outstanding offensive line went 12-4, won the NFC East, and beat the Detroit Lions in the first round of the playoffs for their first playoff win since the 1995 season.

The same was said about Dallas being underdogs in 2016 and 2018. After Romo went down with a clavicle injury, then rookie quarterback Dak Prescott had to take over and that underdog Dallas team won 11 consecutive games, the NFC East crown, and finished the season 13-3.

The 2018 Dallas team started the season 3-3 and it looked as if they were headed for a top-5 lottery pick in the 2019 NFL draft. That changed when Dallas traded for Coop and went on to win the NFC East and a playoff game. Giving Dak his first playoff win, something Carson Wentz can’t say. 

Next. The tremendous hopes and expectations for Aldon Smith. dark

With so many positives going for Dallas on both sides of the ball, I have no idea how anyone can label them underdogs. Maybe its for click-bait or to drive up ratings. For whatever reason, Dallas relishes the underdog role and exceeds expectations. It reminds me of something my late Grandmother used to tell me, “baby, never underestimate the power of denial!”

And the power of denial is why the Dallas Cowboys will achieve so much and then some as the ultimate underdogs.

  • Published on 05/28/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 05/28/2020 at 08:29 AM