NFL 2014 Preview – Dallas Cowboys

For the third straight season, the Dallas Cowboys lost the division title in Week 17 and missed the playoffs.  The Cowboys lost to the New York Giants, Washington and Philadelphia in each respective season.  This year, expectations aren’t as high, but fans will still be very disappointed if the Cowboys again fail to reach to postseason.

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For the third straight season, the Dallas Cowboys lost the division title in Week 17 and missed the playoffs.  The Cowboys lost to the New York Giants, Washington and Philadelphia in each respective season.  This year, expectations aren’t as high, but fans will still be very disappointed if the Cowboys again fail to reach to postseason.

More than anything, quarterback Tony Romo’s health will dictate this team’s success.  Romo underwent back surgery, which kept him out of last year’s season finale.  He’s still rounding into form, but is on schedule to start Week 1.

Running back DeMarco Murray, wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten will be heavily relied upon to take pressure off Romo.  Murray had a career year, running for 1,121 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 350 receiving yards.  Health is always the issue with Murray, however.

Bryant is among the most talented receivers in the league.  He had over 1,200 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns last season, but the hope is he can do even better.  Bryant will be flanked by second-year receiver Terrance Williams, who had a strong rookie campaign.  Witten is the old man of the bunch but has been Romo’s most reliable target over the years.

The Cowboys’ best player may be the young left tackle Tyron Smith, which is really a saving grace for Romo.  Smith is quickly developing into one of the best blindside pass protectors in the league, and he recently received an enormous long-term extension.

On defense, the Cowboys suffered a devastating loss in the spring when star linebacker Sean Lee went down with a torn ACL.  With Lee out, linebackers Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, Kyle Wilbur, rookie Anthony Hitchens and newcomer Rolando McClain will need to pick up the slack.

Dallas’ defensive line gained some serious help this offseason with the signing of former Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton.  At defensive end, with future hall of fame pass rusher DeMarcus Ware gone, Anthony Spencer, Tyronne Crawford and rookie DeMarcus Lawrence each have their chance to shine.

Finally, the Cowboys’ secondary must be better.  That starts with corner Brandon Carr, who underperformed last season.  Carr is joined by Orlando Scandrick and Mo Claiborne at corner and J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church at safety.

The Cowboys are currently a longshot to win the Super Bowl at 50-1 and stand at 28-1 to win the NFC.  Dallas has the 18th most difficult schedule (.488 opponents’ win percentage).