Dallas Cowboys 2009 Season Preview
by Badger of Predictem.com
2008 Record 9-7 (7-9 ATS)
Stadium: Cowboys Stadium
Head Coach: Wade Phillips (3rd Season at Dallas/8th overall 70-53
Current 2009-2010 Super Bowl Odds 15-to-1
Training Camp Site: Alamo Dome, San Antonio, Texas
After back-to-back seasons of finishing with the best record in the
NFC the Dallas Cowboys finally imploded from within last season,
suffering through a 9-7 season that ended without a playoff bid when
the Eagles slipped past then by percentage points.
So the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones finally did what many people had
been calling for him to do for years, releasing malcontent Terrell
Owens and starting fresh with a new approach. How Jones and the
Cowboys fans are going to handle going without the media hype and
hourly updates of the T.O. saga on ESPN has yet to be determined, but
that is the approach for now.
Additionally, the Cowboys will open the 2009 season playing inside
the new state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium, which Jones spent over a
billion dollars to build. You can bet Jones would sell one of his
family jewels to win the NFC East and showcase the new stadium with
homefield advantage all the way up to Super Bowl 44.
Whos In/Whos Out
The Cowboys defense turned over a new leaf in the offseason when they
let longtime veterans Greg Ellis and Roy Williams leave via free
agency. They also gave up on veteran linebacker Zach Thomas letting
him leave as well.
They tried to keep young defensive end Chris Canty too, but he left for the rival New York Giants as a free agent.
But it wasnt all bad, as the Cowboys were able to lure Pro Bowl
linebacker Keith Brooking away from Atlanta as a free agent. They
also lured reliable defensive end Igor Olshansky away from San Diego
to fill the void of Ellis and Canty on the line.
They also traded for veteran quarterback Jon Kitna to upgrade their
insurance policy at the signal calling position.
Draft Class 2009
The Cowboys didnt even have a pick on day one of the draft, so Im
not sure any of the 12 picks they took on day two in rounds three
through seven will even count. Linebackers Jason Williams (3rd) and
Brandon Williams (5th) have a chance, but the rest are likely
training camp fodder and shots in the dark to make the final roster.
With all of the weapons the Cowboys had on offense last season they
still finished the year ranked 13th in total yards per game (344.5)
and 18th in scoring (22.6 ppg), slipping back into the middle of the
pack in the NFL.
So the addition by subtraction philosophy in cutting Owens is aimed at helping quarterback Tony Romo relax and take more control of the
offense. Its also aimed at helping receiver Roy Williams get more
than the 19 catches and one touchdown he had after a deadline deal
brought him to Dallas last season.
With Williams, Patrick Crayton (4 TD), and Miles Austin (3 TD)
teaming up with perhaps the best pass-catching tight end in the
league Jason Witten (4 TD), the Cowboys fell they have enough weapons
on the outside to maintain last seasons rank of 9th in passing yards
per game (236.8).
The offensive line returns intact, which will be a big key because
the Cowboys running must improve. Marion Barber (885 yds., 7 TD),
Felix Jones (3 TD) and Tashard Choice (5.3 ave. in 92 carries) give
the Cowboys plenty of styles out of the backfield as they try and
improve upon the numbers from 08 (21st 107.7 ypg).
While the defensive roster took a majority of the hits during free
agency, the Cowboys wont be as bad off as it looks on paper.
Ellis and his eight sacks will surely be missed, but the Cowboys
brought Olshansky in as a free agent to team up with youngster Marcus
Spears at end, who scouts think is set for a breakout year.
With Brooking at linebacker helping Bradie James clean up tackles,
and Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware off the edge, the Cowboys
should be able to stay in the top-10 in most defensive statistics in
this year (8th in 08 294.3 ypg).
The secondary ended 08 ranked 5th in passing yards allowed (187.7
ypg), but thats a product of their pass rush pressure and their NFL-
best 59 sacks. Second-year corner Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick
will have a training camp battle to start opposite Terence Newman,
but Ken Hamlin and Gerald Sensabaugh are entrenched at the starting
spots at safety.
One of those insignificant draft picks was a 5th-round flyer on
kicker David Buehler of USC. He was brought in to compete with Nick
Folk for the job, but Folk was 20-of-22 and a perfect 2-of-2 from 50-
plus, so dont expect a change unless Buehler kicks out of his mind
in the preseason.
Punter Mat McBriar missed a lot of the 08 season after his foot was
broken on a blocked punt, but hes supposedly back to health and has
been given the job back. His 49.0 average per punt is stellar, but
his 38.8 net means hes either outkicking his coverage or not getting
enough hang time.
Crayton and Austin are listed as the top punt and kickoff returner,
respectively, but if either one becomes a starting wide out that role
could be eliminated quickly. Keep an eye on the Cowboys during the
preseason to see whom theyre grooming for the role.
Sept. 13 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sept. 20 NEW YORK GIANTS
Sept. 28 CAROLINA PANTHERS
Oct. 4 at Denver Broncos
Oct. 11 at Kansas City Chiefs
Oct. 18 Bye
Oct. 25 ATLANTA FALCONS
Nov. 1 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Nov. 8 at Philadelphia Eagles
Nov. 15 at Green Bay Packers
Nov. 22 WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Nov. 26 OAKLAND RAIDERS
Dec. 6 at New York Giants
Dec.13 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Dec. 19 at New Orleans Saints
Dec. 27 at Washington Redskins
Jan. 3 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Betting Odds and Projections
The 2008 Dallas Cowboys werent just a disappointment on the field,
they were also a disappointment at the window for bettors as they
finished with a 7-9 against-the-spread record, including a 4-4 ATS
mark at home. Well see if the new Cowboys Stadium helps them regain
the homefield advantage they had in the old days.
With less hype and less coverage in and around Dallas these days, the
Cowboys are floating as below the radar as they have ever been in the
last few seasons. That is evident by their current 15-to-1 odds to
win Super Bowl 44, as oddsmakers still respect the team but they are
no longer considered the public favorite anymore.
Stop me if youve heard this before, but the key to the Cowboys
season is the portion before their bye week. If they can get big wins
over Carolina and the Giants at home, they could virtually be
undefeated going into the heart of the season. They will need it
because the final five games on the schedule are brutal, with three
of the five on the road.