With how the Cowboys finished the 2018 season after getting off to a dreadful start, there was a reason for hope and optimism looking ahead to 2019. The defense looked incredible, and the offense looked pretty darn good, too. All they had to do was keep everyone healthy and get them on the field.

Well—so much for that.

Anything could happen from now until the start of the regular season. However, at the moment, it looks like the Cowboys are going to be without the one guy they can’t afford to spare when the face they face the New York Giants in their season opener—Ezekiel Elliot.

The star running back has been holding out throughout training camp and the preseason to force the team to sign him to a long-term, high dollar extension now. According to media reports, the team has made him an offer that would make him one of the top two highest-paid running backs in the game. But Elliot said no.

Dallas has been close-lipped about details of the negotiations and has not specified any numbers. So, we have no definitive idea of how much they have offered. Elliot’s agent hasn’t told the media what he is looking for, so we have no idea how far apart the two sides are.

What we do know is that Elliot is under contract so he can’t do like Le’ Veon Bell. From what Jerry Jones said recently during a local radio appearance, the team doesn’t expect to see Elliot for a while, via ESPN:

“I’m operating as though right now he’s going to miss regular-season games. My entire expectation for what we’re putting together as a team right now would anticipate with him holding out and not having any training camp that he’s going to miss games. I just accept that.”

The fate of the team is going to be in the hands of Dak Prescott and the passing game. While the offense was a complete disaster the last time that happened (back in 2017 during Elliot’s suspension), maybe having an offensive coordinator other than Scott Linehan will make a difference.

Then again, their coordinator is now 31-year old Kellen Moore who will be going into just his second season as a coach at any level this year.

So—when it comes to the Cowboys, how should you bet? Don’t bother putting anything on them to win the Super Bowl (currently +2500 at FanDuel), NFC (+1200), or the NFC East (+155) for now.

Should Elliot’s holdout stretch on into the regular season and the Cowboys lose a few games, their odds are going to get longer. That is when you will want to put money on them.

But it may take a while to reach that point. Dallas’ first three games are all ones they should win with or without Elliot (Giants, Redskins, Dolphins). New Orleans and Green Bay will be tough. The Jets game is winnable, and then they face the Eagles before their bye week (Week 8).

The Cowboys could easily be 3-4 or 4-3 at that point. At that point, whether Elliot is back yet or not, put money on the Cowboys to win a wild card spot. Their odds are currently +460 at FanDuel to win a wild card spot.

But by Week Eight, they should be higher.

They will be good longshots to win the NFC or Super Bowl at that time, but those wagers will be far from a lock to win. There are too many good teams this year.

For now, don’t get too optimistic or pessimistic about the Cowboys. Bide your time, and there will be money to be made betting on the Cowboys eventually.

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