CG Technology, a sportsbook operated out of Las Vegas, recently released cross-sport win totals comparing teams, primarily based on geographic similarities. So it made sense to combine the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys, with the sports book listing it as a pick ‘em.
We decided to get together with RJ Ochoa from Blogging to Boys to get his thoughts on a team with similar expectations — put the over/under for both teams at 9.5, as some sportsbooks are doing.
The most interesting mark that you can set for the Cowboys in 2019 is in fact just north of nine wins. We’re talking about a team that managed to pull in 10 regular season victories last season, plus one in the playoffs, but three of their regular season victories were extremely close. They beat both the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons on last-second field goals, and a tipped pass landing in Amari Cooper’s hands gave them their second victory over Philadelphia (it’s important to note that the Cowboys swept the Eagles in 2018).
Scott Linehan is out and Kellen Moore is in which figures to be a sign of life for the offense as a whole. Randall Cobb is definitely an exciting player in the slot and Jason Witten returning has a lot of people excited. Overall how much Dallas is able to move on that side of the ball is going to depend on one of the most-debated things in sports, the abilities of Dak Prescott.
Of course, Dak will have Ezekiel Elliott at his side and every year in which Zeke has been fully available to the Cowboys they’ve won double digit games while he’s led the NFL in rushing; however, there are definitely reasons to be concerned. The Cowboys depended so much on their defense last year and that type of makeup isn’t necessarily sustainable (see the Jacksonville Jaguars after appearing in the AFC Championship Game two years ago). If they take a step back there and if Kellen Moore isn’t a great offensive coordinator during his first year at the position (never mind that he was backing up Dak just two years ago) then things could fall apart rather quickly.
As for the Longhorns, the professionals know what they’re doing here, so I’ll give a couple reasons why Texas could go over the 9.5 wins and a couple reasons why they could go under.
The win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl certainly sparked a lot of optimism in the Longhorns fan base that hasn’t been typical in recent years. Head coach Tom Herman has the program going in the right direction, Texas signed two top-three recruiting classes in the last two years, and finally has a quarterback in junior Sam Ehlinger, who had a breakout sophomore season that ranks among the best in school history. Combined with a favorable schedule that includes a marquee matchup against LSU at home, a conference that will likely be slightly down this season, a schedule that forces the Horns to leave Texas only twice, and the opportunity to play in the Big 12 Championship game to add another win makes the over an intriguing option.
However, there are some causes for concern. Texas lost eight defensive starters last season, the linebackers are thin and inexperienced, and the cornerbacks are inexperienced, too. It’s not clear if there’s a player who can step up along the defensive line to replace Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Charles Omenihu. And with the transfers of Shane Buechele and Cameron Rising, Ehlinger doesn’t have a proven backup after two seasons in which he missed time because of injuries, partly a result of his aggressive playing style. Can he finally stay healthy and remain true to who he is as a quarterback?
The advanced metrics like Bill Connelly’s S&P+ and ESPN’s FPI don’t like the Longhorns this season as a result of all those departures, so it’s going to be an interesting season on the Forty Acres.
Despite those concerns, we’re maintaining our optimism from last offseason and putting the Longhorns at the over with 10 wins and giving them the advantage over the Cowboys, even though Dallas has more potential to win games thanks to the NFL’s playoff structure. Which team would you bet on having more wins this season?