Maybe the Dallas Cowboys can win the Super Bowl XLIX. Find out as we weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of the Cowboys according to the relevant and popular NFL rankings.
Dallas Cowboys Top Wildcard Contenders
Of the Wildcard contenders in the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys enter the Divisional Round with the shortest NFL odds, matched at +1200 to win outright at most sports betting shops online. Despite this favourable outlook, they do have quite the treacherous path to traverse, with the Packers at Lambeau this weekend and potentially the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in the NFC Championship game, assuming they overcome the Green Bay Packers that is.
As far as ESPN NFL Power Rankings and Football Outsiders DVOA rankings, the Cowboys rank in the middle of the pile. Balanced on both sides of the ball relatively well, they really picked up form down the stretch, which has earned them a fifth place both ranking schemes, particularly in Weighted DVOA (See Table 1).
Table 1: The table includes ESPN NFL Power Rankings from week 18, along with NFL regular season-ending rankings for total offense and total defense, and QBR rankings. As well, relevant DVOA rankings (Source: Football Outsiders) have been used to broaden the picture. These statistical rankings have been totalled and averaged to give us a simple hierarchy of the eight teams in the divisional round from top overall ranked to lowest overall ranked team, as shown by the Adjusted SBR Power Rankings column.
SBR Adjusted Power Rankings Table 1: 2014-2015 RANKINGS AT A GLANCE
Dallas Cowboys are one of the most popular teams on the NFL betting floor; there's never any shortage on the money coming down the wire. So is the case with their upcoming clash against the Green Bay Packers, in which the online books are quite exposed. Midweek trends reveal 80% of the money recorded is on the Cowboys for the upset at Lambeau at +210 NFL odds in straight up betting and 52% are backing the Cowboys against the spread as the 6.5-point road underdogs (or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice). Doubts surrounding Aaron Rodgers' form and fitness for Sunday's date with the Cowboys lends some weight to the notion of an upset. Along with the Cowboys' undefeated record on the road this season.
Why The Dallas Cowboys Can Win Super Bowl XLIX
The Dallas Cowboys finished the season on a four-game winning streak, a perfect 4-0 SU mark in December that propelled them to the top of the NFC East title and Tony Romo to the top of the QBR ratings. He nudged ahead of Aaron Rodgers (112.2) in ESPN's quarterback ratings with a 113.2 rating.
According to the NFL regular season rankings, the Cowboys have one the league's best offenses, 7th in total offense (16th in passing and 2nd in rushing). Tony Romo has been clutch for the Cowboys, including the wildcard win over the plucky Detroit Lions, and DeMarco Murray has had a standout season, rushing for 1,845 yards).
Why The Dallas Cowboys Can't Win the Super Bowl XLIX
There are certain deficiencies on defense the Cowboys are going to have a challenge masking. They only just got past the Lions with a skin of the teeth 24-20 win. Lions defense got to Romo an awful lot, making the top season-ending quarterback look rather pedestrian for three quarters of the game. It's worth noting one statistic we've not mentioned here and that is Football Outsiders DVOA ranking for strength of schedule. According to their estimation, the Cowboys had the second weakest (31st) schedule of the entire league.
The path to the Super Bowl going through Packers and Seattle doesn't help their chances either. Although they did beat the Seahawks during the regular season at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks are undefeated at home in the playoffs for seven games in a row going back to 2005. Best case scenario would be a path through the Panthers (on paper), obviously.
Super Bowl Betting Verdict: The Dallas Cowboys put in a memorable run down the stretch and enter the Divisional Round as the dark horse in the NFC Championship race. It's hard to argue with that form, nor their road record for that matter. That alone makes them a viable NFL pick as the tempting +1200 bet in futures betting. The question is how confident can bettors be in Tony Romo's reinvention this season. Does it go as far as placing your NFL picks on it at the expense of Tom Brady and the Patriots for example or Peyton Manning and the Broncos, if it comes down to it?
Not to put a damper on it all, but the Cowboys haven't faced an opponent as good as the Packers on the road this season. It'll take some extra special play by Tony Romo to burn the Packers at Lambeau and emerge into the NFC Championship game, never mind Super Bowl XLIX. Even if they do pull it off somehow, beating the Seahawks again will take some doing. Let's face it, the win over Seattle came early on when the Seahawks were still finding form. And as mentioned earlier the Seahawks haven't lost at CenturyLink field in the playoffs in their last seven games.
Whichever way you slice it, the Dallas Cowboys are a long shot NFL pick in our opinion; that's why they rank sixth on our Adjusted SBR Rankings (See Table 1) to win the Super Bowl XLIX, behind the five proven champions in the last 8 field.