With the schedule released mere days ago, prognostications are already running rampant. I've never been one for predicting wins and losses (I never go into a game expecting a loss - what would be the fun in that?), but what I will do is look at this team and think about its strengths and weaknesses.
With that mindset, myself and my fellow writers have discussed the position groups we think will have the most impact on where this team stands come season's end.
For me? It's all about the defensive line. There are a few reasons for this.
First, the defensive line basically didn't exist last year. This happens often for teams running a 3-4 when they don't have more than role players at the defensive end position.
On a second, but related, note: the defensive line is the focus of the 4-3 defense, in the eyes of many, despite the 'Tampa 2' being named for its coverage schemes. Those of us with a tendency to follow the ball on Sundays will spend quite a bit of time watching our 4-man front battle through opposing offensive lines on their way to the quarterback. I promise it'll be far more gratifying than watching Coleman and Spears maintaining leverage while waiting for the ball to come to them.
The final, and most important, reason is the collective of personnel residing along this new defensive line. We have two of the most productive sack-artists in the NFL as bookends. We've seen plenty of teams garner recognition with a couple of above-average DEs and middling play in the middle, so we're already ahead of the game, there. And our interior, well, that ain't too bad either. Jay Ratliff was a limited player last season, and yet remained one of the Cowboys' most productive players on a per-snap basis. Yes, that's right; the eye test did fail you. Next to him will be Jason Hatcher, who's been coming into his own as a late-blooming force in the interior pass rush.
How many teams on our 2013 schedule have an offensive line to match this lineup?