The Dallas Cowboys officially report to training camp today. Within a few weeks, the team will begin preseason play, with their opener on August 9th. While teams change year to year, the Cowboys generally have an idea of where they need to improve in 2018. Based on my own examination of the NFC, here’s where I believe the Dallas Cowboys stand in the pecking order:
Top Tier (Super Bowl Contenders):
Los Angeles Rams
New Orleans Saints
These teams are the premier teams in the NFC and can each challenge for the Super Bowl. Philadelphia is the defending Super Bowl Champion and will look to defend their crown with a strong roster. Los Angeles added star power on defense this offseason and have a young nucleus of superstars ready to make a name for themselves in Hollywood. Minnesota was the NFC runner-up in 2017, after defeating the New Orleans Saints in the Minnesota Miracle. Both teams have the defense, running game, and quarterback talent to get to the Super Bowl.
Middle Tier (Playoff Contender: Super Bowl Contender in Right Situation)
Green Bay Packers
This next tier of teams will be fighting for their respective division crown, but more than likely, a wild card berth in the playoffs. Green Bay is always dangerous, given the presence of Aaron Rodgers. Atlanta is only a season removed from the Super Bowl and gave Philadelphia a tough time in the playoffs last season. Dallas slots in right behind them in this initial list. While Dallas has the talent to improve in 2018, their outlook is more of a wait-and-see. The team will look for good performances out of a relatively unproven receiving core, and an improvement in Dak Prescott’s game. Ezekiel Elliott’s presence, coupled with an up-and-coming defense, should keep the team in plenty of ballgames. It will be on the passing game to push the team over the top in 2018.
Lower Tier (Tough Road to Playoffs/Lack of Talent/Unlikely Contenders)
San Francisco 49ers
New York Giants
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While any of these teams can make the playoffs, they will need a combination of luck, improved play, and injuries/disappointment by the other teams above to slip into the playoffs.
Overall, the talent in the conference is deep. Only 6 teams will make the playoffs, but legitimate cases for 10-12 teams on this list making the playoffs can be made. As training camp begins, the Dallas Cowboys will work towards being the best team at the end of the season.
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