The thing about the 2021 Dallas Cowboys is that the range of outcomes one could predict for them is very wide. That’s what you get when you pair an elite unit like the Cowboys’ offense with a bad one like the team’s defense. It’s a football team with the tools to be in the NFC Championship Game and one with enough question marks to lose the division.

Former NFL General Manager Mike Tannenbaum is leaning with the more optimistic scenario. In a recent interview on ESPN’s Get Up show, Tannenbaum actually called the Cowboys “the biggest threat in the NFC to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”

An overstatement? Perhaps. At least, we know that’s not the consensus around the league. Betting markets have the Cowboys’ win total at 9.5. Per the Action Network, they’re the 6th favorite team to win the NFC with betting odds of +1248. The Bucs, of course, stand at first place at +305.

But Tannenbaum’s comments not only speak on the Dallas Cowboys but on the current state of the NFC. The simple truth is that the conference is wide open.

Sure, we’ll always be biased toward the current Super Bowl Champions but repeating a championship isn’t easy and it won’t be for the Bucs despite returning 22 starters in 2021. Although their performance in the biggest game of the year was nearly perfect, we witnessed that they weren’t an unbeatable team throughout the regular season.

Beyond the Bucs, there are question marks for any other team. And big questions, including at the quarterback position. Just take a look at the NFC teams ranked above the Cowboys according to the betting odds.

  • LA Rams – How soon will Matthew Stafford click with Sean McVay’s offense and even when he does, is the hype real?
  • SF 49ers – Who’s playing, Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance?
  • GB Packers – How long until Aaron Rodgers returns, if at all?
  • SEA Seahawks – Are they going to let Russell Wilson cook?

Hearing that the Dallas Cowboys are a top contender in the NFC might sound far-fetched at first, but the conference is wide open. An elite season from Dak Prescott and his offense should put this team in a winning position frequently. They have by far the best quarterback in the division and despite Washington having a balanced team, their ceiling isn’t as high as the Cowboys’.

The expectations for Dan Quinn in his first year in Dallas should be cautious, as he’ll work with a roster that lacks clear starters in the defensive backfield and in the interior defensive line. But even a slight improvement should drastically help the Cowboys’ offense win enough games.

If America’s Team manages to stay healthy after being one of the most injured teams since 2012, then they will be legitimate contenders in the NFC.

The biggest threat to the Bucs, though? It’s too early to tell. Fortunately, we’ll get a glimpse at the reality when the NFL kicks off with the Champions and the Dallas Cowboys on the field.

Featured image via Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports