Cowboys try to stake claim as NFC's best team as they face Saints on Yahoo Sports app

For years, people assumed at some point Sean Payton would become the Dallas Cowboys head coach. Imagine being Jason Garrett, reading that speculation year after year.

Garrett has been the target of endless criticism as Cowboys coach, but he can put that all to rest this season.

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The Cowboys are off to a 3-0 start and can make a big statement on Sunday night against Payton and the New Orleans Saints, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.

Even though the Saints won’t have Drew Brees, a win at the Superdome would legitimize Dallas’ start and their status as Super Bowl contenders.

Cowboys off to a 3-0 start

The Cowboys epitomize the saying that you can only play the teams on your schedule.

The Cowboys’ first three opponents were the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. If not for a missed field goal by the Buccaneers against the Giants on the final play last week, those three teams would be a combined 0-9.

Yet, the Cowboys have looked very good against them. They have outscored opponents by 53 points, the second-best mark in the NFL to the Patriots. Among all NFL starting quarterbacks, Dak Prescott’s 128 passer rating is second to only Patrick Mahomes. Ezekiel Elliott is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards. Amari Cooper is tied for the NFL lead with four receiving touchdowns. The defense has allowed the fourth-fewest points in the NFL. It’s hard to find a flaw with the Cowboys’ start.

Garrett deserves credit, something he rarely gets. The decision to make Kellen Moore offensive coordinator has certainly helped. Garrett has done a great job, at least through three games, of making all the pieces fit. He’s on quite a roll since a 3-5 start last season, when it looked like a foregone conclusion he’d be fired. Dallas is 10-1 in the regular season since then. Even Garrett’s biggest critics can’t deny he has done a good job in that stretch.

Dallas has a good argument as the best team in the NFC right now, though it will be interesting to see them get a challenge from a good team.

Saints will provide a challenge to Cowboys

The Saints lost Brees to thumb surgery, though they had a convincing 33-27 win at the Seattle Seahawks last week. Teddy Bridgewater did fine as Brees’ replacement and running back Alvin Kamara had a fantastic game. The Saints are a tough out at home, no matter who is playing quarterback.

We’ll know more about the Cowboys after Sunday night. if Dallas is as good as it looked in the first three games and can make a long playoff run this season, it would change many careers. Garrett wouldn’t have to hear any more about being on the hot seat, at least for one offseason. Prescott could name his price on his often-discussed extension. The Cowboys haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the end of the 1995 season, and another trip there would be a boon for everyone in the organization.

The Cowboys look the part so far. Sunday night will start to show if they still look an elite team once the schedule gets tougher.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, left, greets running back Ezekiel Elliott (21). (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab