2008 Dallas Cowboys Team Preview – Schedule – Betting Odds

Dallas Cowboys 2008 Season Preview - Betting Odds
by Badger of Predictem.com

2007 Record 13-3 (9-7 ATS)
NFC East Division Champions
Lost to N.Y. Giants (21-17) in Divisional Round of playoffs

Stadium: Texas Stadium
Head Coach: Wade Phillips (2nd Season at Dallas/7th overall 61-46
career record)

Training Camp Site: Oxnard River Ridge Complex, Oxnard, Calif.

The last time we saw the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Tony Romo was
getting more attention for dating Jessica Simpson than his passing
skills and Terrell Owens was crying his eyes out. Not much has
changed, as the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones continue to be the
media/publicity whores, but the fact remains the Cowboys continue to
be one of the best teams in the NFL.

After back-to-back seasons of racking up one of the best records in the NFL and homefield advantage in the playoffs, the Cowboys (and
Romo) still cant find a way to get past that opening round of the
playoffs. Theyll have to get that monkey of their back sooner than
later if they are going to keep their faithful fans (and owner) happy.

Whos In/Whos Out

Early in the off-season the Cowboys grabbed the national spotlight by
trading a 4th-round pick for the NFL poster child for bad behavior,
cornerback Adam Pacman Jones. Oh yeah, and its just Adam Jones now,
as he is trying to turn over a new leaf and leave the past behind him.

They also picked middle linebacker Zach Thomas up off the scrap heap
when the Dolphins released him in one of new GM Bill Parcells first
moves.

But other than the Pacman trade and Thomas pickup, the Cowboys were
very quiet in free agency.

They lost some running back depth when Julius Jones (Seattle) left in
free agency. They also cut WR Terry Glenn just before camp started to
get rid of the oft-injured crybaby.

Other than resigning their own guys in DE Chris Canty and DB Ken
Hamlin, the rest of the roster retooling was done through the 2008
draft class.

They replaced Jones at running back with first-round pick Felix Jones
(Arkansas), then reached for some cornerback help by taking Mike
Jenkins (S. Florida) late in the first round as well. Both will work
into the mix, but neither will be counted on to start right away.
Third-rounder TE Martellus Bennett (Texas A&M) and fourth-round pick
RB Tashard Choice (Georgia Tech) should make the roster, but they
might not reach the field much.

Offense

Romo was once again a All-Pro quarterback during the regular season (64.4 comp. %, over 4,000 yards, 36 TD, 19 INT), only to stubble on
his face late in the year and into the postseason. He will have to
climb the next mental hurdle if the Cowboys want to reach the goal of
the Super Bowl in 2008.

Running back Marion Barber has emerged as a workhorse, scoring 12
touchdowns (10 rush, 2 rec.) and rushing for just short of 1,000
yards last season. With Jones as the speedy third-down back, the
Cowboys are solid in the backfield.

By cutting Glenn the Cowboys essentially gave WR Patrick Crayton the starting job opposite T.O. at receiver. With perhaps the best
receiving tight end in the game today, Jason Whitten (1,145 yds., 7
TD), Dallas should be more capable of filling the loss of Glenn. They
will have to find a third WR for spread formations though, and right
now the leading candidates are Sam Hurd and Miles Austin.

With All-Pros T Flozell Adams, G Leonard Davis and C Andre Gurode anchoring the line the Cowboys will be able to protect Romo and open
up holes for Barber to run through. Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier fill
out the other two starting spots to form one of the best lines in the
NFL.

Defense

The Dallas defense was one of the sturdiest last season in both
phases, allowing just 81.2 yards per game on the ground and just
184.5 yards in the air. This years version should be better, if you
can believe it, because theyve added depth and talent to that side
of the ball in the off-season.

No one doubts the talent that Pacman Jones brings to the table. But
with him teaming up with starting corners Terence Newman and Anthony
Henry, as well as first-round pick Jenkins, the Cowboys have enough
speed at corner to run with three- and four-receiver sets. Safeties
Hamlin and Roy Williams are good versus the run on early downs, but
now the Boys have depth to take Williams out on passing downs if
they want.

The Cowboys still have plenty of push off the edge with outside
linebackers DeMarcus Ware (14 sacks) and Greg Ellis (12 sacks)
teaming up with ends Canty (4 sacks) and Marcus Spears (2 sacks) to
provide a formidable pass rush.

The big key for the Cowboys defense will be how quickly Thomas
adjusts to playing middle linebacker in a 3-4 defensive set. Thomas
has never played in a 3-4, and with his history of neck and
concussion problems, taking on more blockers is not exactly a formula
for success. That is why it will be very important for tackle Jay
Ratliff and Tank Johnson to hold up the middle from the nose guard
position to ease the strain on Thomas and fellow middle backer Bradie
James.

Special Teams

Pacman could also help the Cowboys by returning punts, thus taking away the responsibility from Newman and easing the workload on the
starter at corner. Miles Austin is the main kick returner, averaging
25.5 yards a return last season on 24 returns.

Kicker Nick Folk is accurate (26-of-31) and has a strong enough leg to kick from over 50 yards (2-of-5). While punter Mat McBriar had one
of the best seasons in the league last year ending with a 47.1-yard
average (38.5 net). But like most strong-legged punters, his touch in
close could improve as he only pinned opponents down inside the 20-
yard line 17 times in 07.

2008 Schedule

Sept. 7 at Cleveland Browns
Sept. 15 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Sept. 21 at Green Bay Packers
Sept. 28 WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Oct. 5 CINCINNATI BENGALS
Oct. 12 at Arizona Cardinals
Oct. 19 at St. Louis Rams
Oct. 26 TAMPA BAY BUCANEERS
Nov. 2 at New York Giants
Nov. 9 Bye
Nov. 16 at Washington Redskins
Nov. 23 SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Nov. 27 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Dec. 7 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec. 14 NEW YORK GIANTS
Dec. 20 BALTIMORE RAVENS
Dec. 28 at Philadelphia Eagles

Betting Odds and Projections

The Dallas Cowboys will continue to be one of the elite teams in the
NFC in 2008, and oddsmakers are listing them as such as they are
currently an 8-to-1 favorite to reach Super Bowl 43.

The Cowboys will still be a good wager for sports bettors in 2008. While they were just 9-7 versus the spread last year, its often the
result of oddsmakers having to set the opening spread higher because
the Cowboys are one of the publics favorite teams to bet on. The
Cowboys were also a good team to take the over with, as they finished
over the total in 10 of their 16 games in 07.

Getting off to a strong start will be key for the Boys this year, as they open with tough road games at Cleveland and Green Bay sandwiched
around home game with NFC East rivals Philly and Washington. If they
can get through that stretch healthy and at least .500, they could
run the table up to the bye week with just a road game at Giants
Stadium as their biggest remaining challenge.

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