While we wait for the next wave of mediot football annuals, let's see how you can do. I'd like to see your predictions on the Cowboys' season. What will their record be? Will they start quickly? Slowly? Will any rookies emerge? Playoffs this year, a near miss, or status quo?
My early gut prediction is 9-7. I think the talent level has improved, and the signings of Henry and Glenn will help the pass defense. I'm not convinced, however, that the switch to 3-4 will go smoothly. My biggest concerns are at the DE positions. Greg Ellis is a true hard-hat player, but if he can't handle being a two-gap end, teams will run at him without mercy. And Dallas does not exactly have anybody behind him should he fail. Chris Canty is promising, but you can't depend on a guy who can't lift yet. I also think it's overly optimistic to expect Marcus Spears to be a terror right out of the box. I think he'll be a good player, but even good players have learning curves.
I think Dallas will struggle early, even though the first half of the schedule looks easier. I also think the running game will keep the team competitive and will propel the team to a strong finish once the defense gels. Will 9-7 be enough for the playoffs? Last year it would have been, but the NFC can't be any worse now than it was in '04. I see a narrow playoff miss, but a return of the hope fans had after the '90 season, when it was clear success was just around the corner.