When all is said and done at the end of the season, it is very possible that the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos will be amongst the league leaders in offensive production. Both teams feature some of the most promising young players in the league, and will look to start their campaign on a positive note when they square off on Saturday.
There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Cowboys this year. Even though they are still favored to win the NFC East, they do not feel like the same overwhelming favorite that they were in 2021. Dallas traded Amari Cooper away to the Cleveland Browns as a salary cap casualty, but he is still a really good player who has been one of quarterback Dak Prescott’s favorite targets. Wide receiver Michael Gallup re-signed with the Cowboys after many thought he would leave the team, but is looking increasingly likely to miss some regular season games due to his recovery from an ACL injury. That leaves 2020 first round draft pick CeeDee Lamb as the main weapon in the passing game. He is certainly talented enough to demand a heavy target share and become the star many expect he would be, but still needs to prove he can be the clear cut number one option on a good team.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott also enters the 2022 season with uncertainty. He played through injuries last year, and appeared to have lost some of the explosion he was known for in previous seasons. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently said that Elliott will remain a huge focal point of the offense, and will need to play well in order to provide balance. Reserve running back Tony Pollard has been waiting patiently in the wings, and was very exciting when he got a chance to show his potential in limited sample sizes.
The Broncos figure to be one of the most improved teams in the NFL this season. Their offensive supporting cast has been impressive for the better part of the last two seasons, but they now have a quarterback who has delivered in the biggest games.
Russell Wilson will look to continue his marvelous career with Denver, and prove that he is the missing ingredient the franchise has sought since the retirement of Peyton Manning. He had a little bit of a down season in 2021, which was hampered by a hand injury he suffered midway through the campaign. He appears to be fully healthy now, and will have an opportunity to make wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton breakout stars, similar to the connection he had with Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf in Seattle.
It will be worthwhile to monitor how much new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett plays his starters. The team has lost third wide receiver Tim Patrick for the season due to an ACL tear earlier in camp, and they may not want to risk losing anyone else before their season opener just over a month from now.