National Football League

'Undisputed' debates Dallas Cowboys schedule and NFC East division-winners

May 13

The fallout from NFL schedule release day has just barely started to settle.

There's plenty to unpack for all 32 NFL teams, but how did things shake out for "America's Team," aka the Dallas Cowboys?

The Cowboys always go big, and look no further than their schedule release video for proof.

Yep. Feel free to scratch "Jerry Jones playing beer pong with Post Malone" off your 2021 bingo cards, folks.

Naturally, Dallas' schedule was a heated topic of discussion between Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe on Thursday's episode of "Undisputed."

A Week 1 visit to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions?

Talk about a blockbuster opener.

But when diving into the Cowboys' 17-game schedule, what will be Dallas' final regular-season record?

Sharpe wasn't too keen on the Cowboys' prospects.

"Y'all not winning the division, let me start with that first," Sharpe said. "Skip Bayless, your Dallas Cowboys will not win the division. The New York Football Giants are going to win the division. As a matter of fact, I'm gonna go one step further. The Washington Football team will finish second in the division. … You guys are gonna finish third. Third in the division, with a $107 million quarterback."

That quarterback, Dak Prescott, locked in with the Cowboys after lengthy negotiations on a four-year, $160 million contract in March.

He finished the 2020 season on injured reserve following a gruesome leg injury in Week 5, but was on pace for some gaudy numbers, including career highs in completion rate (68.0%) and passing yards per game (371.2) through five contests.

With Prescott recently saying he's "close to being 100 percent," expectations are high for the Cowboys.

Not to mention, Dallas' offense still boasts Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb at the wideout position, along with running back Ezekiel Elliott next to Prescott in the backfield.

But the offense isn't why Sharpe saw the Cowboys finishing third in the NFC East.

For Sharpe, the Cowboys' shortcomings center around lack of consistency and a porous defense.

"At some point in time you going to have to put the level of consistency together, and I have yet to see that," Sharpe said. "And your defense … they got [defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn and he's talking about rinse and repeat, but you've still got the same guys that you're gonna rinse and repeat with."

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When all is said and done, Sharpe said he believes Dallas will finish a hair above .500.

"I want to say 8-8-1. So that's my first inclination, to go 8-8-1. But I'll give you one win. I'm gonna give you one more win. I'm gonna say you're 9-8 and you don't win the division."

Bayless was a bit more bullish on his ‘Boys, although he admitted he’s not enamored with the roster.

"I'll be the first to admit: I do not love my team going into this season," Bayless said. "But I definitely like my team more than I like the Giants, or Washington or the Eagles. My team will win the NFC East. If you want to call it the ‘least,’ you can."

Prescott's presence was a big selling point for Bayless, as he viewed Dak as the division's best quarterback.

Furthermore, Bayless took time to assuage some fears with Dallas' defense.

"Sheerly on quarterback alone, I'm going to win the division," Bayless said. "And just by default, my defense is going to be better than it was last year because it was all-time horrible last year. It was arguably the worst defense in franchise history last year." 

The Cowboys definitely used the draft to shore up their defense, highlighted by taking Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick. In fact, Dallas used their first six picks to address the defense, and eight of their 11 total picks were used on defensive players.

If Bayless' prediction for Dallas' record comes to fruition, the Cowboys could be in for some home cooking.

"I'm here to tell you, I think my team can sweep at Jerryworld," Bayless said.

"I think they can go 8-0 at home. I've got them going 4-2 in the division, with three home wins and one win away, which is the last game of the season, at Philly. I believe they can win that game, which will be required to win the division. … They go 6-5 out of the division. They go 8-0 at home, 2-7 on the road. … And that adds up to 10-7."

Finishing 10-7 would be enough for the Cowboys to win the division, by Bayless' count. 

If the Cowboys can pull it off, it'd be their first NFC East title since 2018.

And as for where the oddsmakers see things, Skip and Shannon split the difference on where FOX Bet set the regular-season win total for the Cowboys of 9.5 wins.

In terms of the division, FOX Bet lists the Cowboys at -105 to win the NFC East, favorites ahead of Washington (+300), New York (+450) and Philadelphia (+500).

Buckle up, Cowboys fans. It's going to be a wild ride.

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