After going 8 and 8 for the third season in a row and missing out on the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season the Cowboys find themselves in an odd position. They still get tons of media coverage but expectations have probably never been lower. Will less pressure result lead to a Cowboy's resurgence though?
Key Man – Tony Romo
It might be a bit obvious to select Romo. The quarterback is after all the key position in any team. Romo however, is more crucial to the Cowboys chance of success then almost any other player. The Seahawks or 49ers could win games if Russell Wilson or Coling Kaepernick got injured. If Romo were to get injured though the Cowboys chances of winning games would all but evaporate.
Coming off a back injury so bad that he has had to quit golf you would think that Romo is at higher risk of injury than most other players. The Cowboys will be praying that Romo's back can stand up to the rigours of the modern NFL season. If he can repeat anything like his performance of last year where he threw 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions then the Cowboys would ordinarily be very happy.
However, the chances are that if the Cowboys are to post a winning season Romo will have to do even better than that. Has Romo got a 5000+ yard season in his ageing body because, that's what he will need to deliver if the Cowboys are to make it back to the playoffs.
Biggest Strength – Passing game
Presuming that Romo stays fit then the Dallas passing game looks very good. In Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams the Cowboys could have one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL. Last season Bryant had 91 receptions that he took for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns at an average of 13.3 yards per receptions. Rookie Terrence Williams meanwhile had 44 receptions that he took for 736 yards at an average of 16.7 yards. With the departure of Miles Austin Williams will be wide receiver number two this season and his receptions will likely increase by at least half.
It might not be as hyped as Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson or Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall but in terms of the number of yards and points the pair will likely put up the Cowboys duo aren't going to be far behind anyone.
Add tight ends Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar into the mix and it is clear that Romo has plenty of weapons to throw to.
Biggest Weakness – Defensive front seven
I could have just put the defense as that entire side of the ball is a disaster zone but I decide to limit things to the front seven as the secondary is comparatively less awful. Key players like Hatcher and Ware were lost in free agency and then on the first day of OTAs star lineback Sean Lean was injured and ruled out for the season.
These losses would put any NFL defense in trouble but remember the Cowboys defense was already very poor. Last season the Cowboys defense was stomped on giving away 6,645 total yards. This was the third-most ever allowed in NFL history and you can make a convincing case that 2014 will be even worse.
The defensive line will be anchored by Henry Melton and Nick Hayden. Melton is coming back from an ACL injury that ruled him out for most of last season whilst Hayden has
made only two sacks in his 5 year career. Meanwhile shorn of Sean Lee the linebacker corp is made up of huge bust Rolando McClain, rookie Anthony Hitchens and the uninspiring Bruce Carter.
Unless someone steps ups the Cowboys front seven is probably going to be the leagues worst.
Games against the Rams, Texans, Titans, Jaguars, Cardinals and Giants look winnable but the Cowboys will still need to find some wins out of the games against the Saints, Eagles, Bears, Colts, 49ers, Seahawks. The schedule is TOUGH.
Prediction – 6-10
Given the weaknesses on defense it is all but impossible to see the Cowboys posting a winning season.