This is not how the Dallas Cowboys had hoped to begin the 2020 NFL season, to say the least.

An atrocious defense and countless injuries on offense have turned a projected Super Bowl contender into the league’s most disappointing team.

Dallas was embarrassed Monday night in Andy Dalton’s first start for America’s Team, losing 38-10 at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys’ record dropped to 2-4. They have a minus-45 point differential heading into Week 7.

The only saving grace for Dallas is its division. The NFC East is so bad that the Cowboys are actually in sole possession of first place. Dallas is a game ahead of the Washington Football Team, who host the Cowboys Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys still find themselves favored on the road, laying two points in Washington, according to betting odds compiled by OddsShark. The over/under is 47.5.

Despite what the line suggests, things might not get much better for Dallas in the near future.

Once a top unit, the Cowboys’ offensive line is virtually unrecognizable. Starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are on injured reserve. The same goes for starting center Joe Looney, who replaced five-time Pro Bowler Travis Frederick to start the season. Right guard Zach Martin left Monday’s contest with a concussion, putting his status for Week 7 in question.

If Dallas is down to one of its original starting offensive linemen in Washington, Dalton and Co. could be in big trouble.

Arizona sacked Dalton three times, even though star pass rusher Chandler Jones was out with an injury. Led by rookie Chase Young, Washington’s strength is its ability to get after the quarterback. Ryan Kerrigan has 6.5 sacks in his last six games against the Cowboys.

The gap between Dalton and Dak Prescott was glaring in the first game since Dallas’ franchise quarterback suffered a season-ending injury. Dalton didn’t get much help from his receivers. Ezekiel Elliott lost two fumbles.

Turnovers have been a problem for the Cowboys all season long. Dallas is last with 15 giveaways, and its three forced turnovers are tied for last.

Coming off a 20-19 loss against the New York Giants, Washington is tied for dead last in total yards and yards per play. Kyle Allen is a below-average starting quarterback.

That might mean very little against a Dallas defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone this year.

The Cowboys are giving up a league-high 36.3 points per game. In Week 5, Dallas gave up 34 points to the Giants, who are tied with Washington for last in total offense and rank 31st in scoring. 

The Cowboys have allowed their opponent to score its season-high in points in three straight weeks. There’s a good chance that will continue in Week 7.

Dallas is 0-6 against the spread.

Prediction: Washington over Dallas, 28-24

Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 19, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images