Monday, August 23, 2010

2010 Preview: Dallas Cowboys

2009 Record: 11-5

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 2
Run Offense - 7
Pass Offense - 6
Scoring Offense - 14
Total Defense - 9
Run Defense - 4
Pass Defense - 20
Scoring Defense - 2

Most "experts" you talk to are ready to crown the Dallas Cowboys as 2010 NFC East Champions. But not so fast. There's still a season to be played. If championships were won before the season started, Peyton Manning would have a better record than .500 in the postseason.

Dallas does have a dynamic running attack with the speedy Felix Jones, assuming that he doesn't get injured, and the powerful Marion Barber III, assuming he doesn't get hurt, and Tashard Choice who gets to play when the other two, you know, get injured. Tony Romo, aside from choking in December and January, is also known for dating supermodels like Jessica Simpson. Under Romo, the Cowboys offense scores about as much on the field as he does off it -- only on occasion. They are perfectly capable of putting up 34 points one week, and 3 the next. Need an example? See the 2009 playoffs.

The Cowboys have an excellent run defense and pass rush, with arguably the 3rd best 3-4 OLB in the league in DaMarcus Ware. However, their pass defense ranked 20th in the league last year, so they went out and used their first round pick on defensive back wide receiver Dez Bryant. With former Pro Bowl safety Ken Hamlin departed for Baltimore, the battle will be between 2007 7th round pick Alan Ball (who has 0 career INTs and 17 career tackles) and 2009 5th round pick Michael Hamlin (0 career INTs, 8 career tackles) for the starting free safety spot. Neither exactly inspire confidence for Dallas' secondary.  The Cowboys did spend a 3rd round pick on IUP product CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who could be in the mix at the Free Safety position if neither Ball or Hamlin seem up to the task.

The Cowboys do have a fairly easy schedule, and will definitely be in contention for a playoff spot. However, to crown them division champs already is a fallacy. Dez Bryant could easily be the #2 WR by the end of the year. He has more talent and ability than Roy Williams, he just has to get his route-running sharp and get in sync with Romo, something he hasn't been able to do thus far in the preseason as he's been out with an injury. The Cowboys O-line isn't nearly as good as it was a few years ago, but they are still good enough to beat the teams they should.

In the end, this really is the question most people should be asking each other:

And since it wouldn't be a post about Cowboys without one of these....

Ian's Prediction: 10-6

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