It was a good regular season for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. They won 12 games, finished atop the NFC East and got the opportunity to host a playoff game. However, all NFL fans really remember when thinking about last year's Cowboys team was their performance in said playoff game.
Dallas was the betting favorites to defeat San Francisco, but they failed to get it done. San Francisco came out to a 23-7 lead before ten fourth quarter points from the Cowboys made the game look closer than it really was. Dallas even had a chance late, before the infamous Dak Prescott rush up the middle to run out the clock.
As a neutral observer, you couldn't help leaving that game feeling like the Cowboys shot themselves in the foot. They were undisciplined and made boneheaded mistakes at key times. Sure, the team is extremely talented but something was off.
This offseason didn't help matters. Due to a salary cap crunch, they had to make some tough decisions. Amari Cooper was basically given away to the Cleveland Browns. La'El Collins was released. Randy Gregory had a last minute change of heart and signed with the Broncos. Other key contributors such as Connor Williams and Cedrick Wilson left as well.
Despite the sour taste that the end of last season left, and the less than ideal offseason, the Cowboys are still projected to be a good team. Yahoo's Frank Schwab has them at 5th in his preseason power rankings. The betting market seems to agree that this team has another solid season in them.
Cowboys favored to win NFC East
Last season, the Cowboys won 12 games. For this upcoming season, their win total over/under at BetMGM is set at 10.5 wins. While it may seem like a step back is projected for Dallas, it still puts them amongst the league's elite. Only the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have higher win totals. At a projected 10.5 wins, the Cowboys are tied with the likes of Green Bay, Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams.
Despite the high win total, bettors aren't high on the Cowboys. A vast majority of the betting action is coming on the under, with 84% of bets and 91% of the betting handle backing Dallas to finish with 10 wins or fewer.
The Cowboys won the NFC East in runaway fashion last season, finishing three games ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles. The betting market has installed Dallas as the favorites to win the division again at +135. This puts them just ahead of Philadelphia, who currently have +165 odds to win the NFC East.
The vast majority of bettors don't agree that Dallas should be favored to win the division. Almost 62% of bets are backing the Eagles to win it. Over 18% of the bets are on Washington. Dallas edges out the Giants as the third most popular bet to win the NFC East. Despite that, the Cowboys are -450 favorites to finish top-2 in the division.
It's worth noting that no team has won the NFC East in back-to-back seasons since the Eagles won it four straight seasons from 2001-2004. The last time the Cowboys won it in consecutive seasons was when they won it in five straight seasons from 1992-96. That team won three Super Bowls during that stretch.
Even if the Eagles or any other team edges out Dallas for the NFC East, the oddsmakers view the Cowboys as a very good bet to make the playoffs. Dallas is currently -300 to make the playoffs, odds that imply the Cowboys make it 75% of the time.
Dallas is +500 to finish as the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. Those odds are tied for second best with the Green Bay Packers and they trail only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dallas finished as the third overall seed last season, behind the two aforementioned teams.
Cowboys are seen as Super Bowl contender
The Dallas Cowboys enter the season with 16-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Those are tied for the 7th best odds in the league and puts them on even footing with two offseason darlings in the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers. The Cowboys are right behind the San Francisco 49ers and just ahead of the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals on the odds board.
While they're not one of the top favorites like the Bills or Buccaneers, the Cowboys find themselves right smack dab in the middle of a tier of teams that could certainly make a run this upcoming season.
Dallas is +750 to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Those are the fifth best odds in the conference behind the Buccaneers, Packers, Rams and 49ers. The Rams and Buccaneers have won the last two Super bowls, while the Packers were the No. 1 seed last year and have a back-to-back MVP winning quarterback. The 49ers ended Dallas' season last year in the playoffs.
Cowboys awards and player props
There's certainly a collection of high-end talent on the Cowboys roster, with plenty of their players near the top of the odds board in many awards and statistical races.
Dak Prescott enters the season with 12-to-1 odds to win NFL MVP. Those are tied for the sixth best odds in the league with Bengals' quarterback Joe Burrow. Notably, he has better odds than former MVP winner Lamar Jackson, reigning Super Bowl champion Matthew Stafford, and new Broncos' quarterback Russell Wilson. Prescott has received one singular MVP vote in his career.
Prescott is 12-to-1 to lead the league in passing yards, tied for the seventh best odds with Josh Allen. He's 14-to-1 to lead the league in passing touchdowns, giving him the eighth best odds.
Prescott's over/under for passing yards is set at 4299.5 yards. He went 140 yards over this number last year despite missing a game. He's gone over this mark in two of the last three seasons, and it likely would have been 3-for-3 if not for his gruesome injury in 2020. His over/under for passing touchdowns is set at 31.5. He threw 37 touchdowns last year, but has gone under this number in every other season of his career.
Entering his third season out of Oklahoma, Ceedee Lamb is a popular pick to develop into a star this upcoming season. He's 10-to-1 to lead the league in receiving yards. Those are the fourth best odds behind only Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. Elite company, to say the least. He's 22-to-1 to lead the league in receiving touchdowns, tied for the 10th best odds with new Dolphins' receiver Tyreek Hill.
Lamb takes over as the alpha receiver of the offense. Amari Cooper is in Cleveland, Michael Gallup won't be ready for the start of the season and Cedrick Wilson is now in Miami. As a result, Lamb's props for the upcoming season are set at 90.5 receptions, 1199.5 receiving yards and 7.5 receiving touchdowns. He has never hit any of these numbers, but he's never had this big of a role. Last season, Lamb had 79 receptions, 1102 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns.
Last season, Micah Parsons won the defensive rookie of the year, receiving 100% of the votes. He finished second behind T.J. Watt in voting for the overall defensive player of the year. It should come as no surprise that he's amongst the favorites to win the award this year. Parsons is +900 to win defensive player of the year, the fourth best odds behind Myles Garrett, Watt and Aaron Donald. Currently at BetMGM, Parsons is the biggest liability for the sportsbook to win this award. He's received 24% of the bets and over 30% of the betting handle. Parsons' over/under for sacks this upcoming season is set at 10.5 sacks. He had 13 in his rookie year.
Ezekiel Elliott was one of the most feared running backs in football just a few years ago, but that's not really the case entering the 2022 season. Elliott is 30-to-1 to lead the league in rushing yards, tied for the 12th best odds with the likes of Rashaad Penny and Devin Singletary. He's 25-to-1 to lead the league in rushing touchdowns, tied for the 10th best odds.
His over/under for rushing yards is set at 874.5 yards. He eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards last season and has gone at least 100 yards over this number in every year of his career. Of course, running backs decline quickly and there's certainly signs that show that decline has already begun for Elliott. His over/under for rushing touchdowns is set at 8.5 scores. He had ten last year, but has only gone over this number in three of six seasons.
Other Cowboys players
If you're a believer that the end is near for Ezekiel Elliott, you might be interested in betting Tony Pollard to go over 624.5 rushing yards. He had 719 last season as he continues to eat into Zeke's workload.
Third-round wide receiver Jalen Tolbert is 16-to-1 to win offensive rookie of the year. Those are the 12th best odds. We've talked about the departures of Cooper and Wilson leaving behind a lot of targets. Maybe the rookie can pick a bunch of those up.
Mike McCarthy is 50-to-1 to win NFL coach of the year. These odds are worst in the league, tied with four other coaches.
Cowboys face stiff test in Week 1
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys opened the season on the road in Tampa Bay as 8.5-point underdogs. Dallas lost the game, but kept it close and covered the spread with ease in a 31-29 loss. Those teams meet again in Week 1 this year. This time around, the Cowboys are the home team and the oddsmakers are projecting a tight game again.
Dallas opens the season as a 2-point home underdog against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. It's a lot of respect for the Cowboys, as bettors will surely flock towards laying less than a field goal with Brady and company.
If the second half of last season is any indication, home field advantage doesn't mean much to the Cowboys. They lost a home playoff game. They went just 2-3 over their last five regular season home games, losing to Denver in a game they should have won and also losing to the Raiders on Thanksgiving. Overall, that's a 2-4 record for Dallas in their last six home games. Dallas might not be a terrible bet in Week 1, but home field advantage shouldn't be the main handicap.