It's kind of like the famous debate regarding the chicken or the egg: in the 2020 NFL, with high scores coming early and often, are offenses really good, or are defenses really bad?
The answer probably isn't a mutually exclusive explanation, as both facts can be true depending on the specific team. There are other factors, as well, with officiating becoming a primary factor as to why offenses may be chugging down the field with more success.
For one team, though, it seems pretty clear what the problem is: really, really bad defense. Like, historically bad defense.
That's right. The Dallas Cowboys, through six weeks of the 2020 NFL season, have allowed 218 points to top the league in that undesirable statistic. The season started out promising enough for the defense, as the unit only allowed the Rams to score 20 points. But since then, it's gotten ugly: 39 points to the Falcons, 38 points to the Seahawks, 49 points to the Browns, 34 points to the Giants and 38 points to the Cardinals.
Not only does the 218-point total top the 2020 NFL but it also tops the list of every single NFL team through six games dating back to the start of the Super Bowl era in 1966. The top ten — or bottom ten, depending on how you look at it — can be seen below (via Stathead).
Other 2020 teams in the top 50 on this list are the Vikings (No. 26, with 192 points allowed), the Browns (No. 39, with 187 points allowed) and the Jets (No. 48, with 185 points allowed). There have been some remarkable turnarounds as well. The Miami Dolphins, for instance, surrendered 211 points through six weeks of the 2019 season, good for the fourth-highest total ever. In 2020, they've surrendered 113 points, though the differences in the schedule obviously come into play.
The Cowboys also became the fifth team in NFL history — and just the third in the Super Bowl era — to give up 34 points in five straight games. If they do it for a sixth, which doesn't seem all too likely against the Washington Football Team, they'll be the only team in NFL history to do so. Interestingly enough, the other four teams who accomplished this inglorious feat were winless in that five-game span, but Dak Prescott and the high-powered offense helped to differentiate the Cowboys from the rest of the pack.
Even in the lowly NFC East, the Cowboys' defense combined with an injury to Dak Prescott means that they're a candidate to end the year at the bottom of the barrel.