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Six Things We're Thinking: Cowboys Greater Than The Sum Of Their Parts?

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Favorable schedule ahead? Is it too early to talk about the draft? Can teams force the Cowboys to move away from the winning formula? Just three of the things we've been thinking about recently.

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Random thoughts, musings and wildly hyperbolic postulations from the BTB writers.

Will the Cowboys sign more contract extensions soon?

OCC: There's been talk around the league that the 2015 salary cap could jump to $145 million and possibly $160 million in 2016 from the $133 million in 2014. If I'm the Cowboys, I try to sign every player I want to keep, and I sign them early - in the hope that I'm paying 2014 prices to guys who'll be playing for me in 2016 and beyond.

In August of 2011, with a year still remaining on his contract, the Cowboys signed Orlando Scandrick to a five-year extension worth $27 million. At the time, the contract was widely criticized, but today the Cowboys have a top cornerback whom they are paying at 2011 prices (2011 cap: $120 million) and will continue paying at those prices for a couple of years. Today, the deal has to be considered a great bargain, the 2011 opinions of professional whiners notwithstanding.

Look for the Cowboys to make similar deals this year, look for the professional whiners to criticize those deals, and look for the front office to look smart a couple of years down the road.

Is it too early to talk about the draft?

Gary Morris: I have been reflecting on the last several years and how at this time of year I would be thinking about the draft and how much we needed a better offensive line.

This year I am thinking playoffs and how we really have a realistic shot at winning the whole thing.

Can teams force the Cowboys to move away from the winning formula?

Rabblerousr: Against Jacksonville, the Cowboys sent the league a message: "if you want to crowd the box and play single-high safety, go ahead - but we'll make Dez Bryant a Hall of Famer in the process." Clearly, Bryant's huge second quarter against the Jags was awesome, and contributed mightily to the victory. But I wonder: does the rest of the league actually win by forcing the Cowboys to move the ball this way? By picking that form of poison rather than the "death by small cuts" provided by the Cowboys running game, teams seemingly force Dallas to go away from the formula that they used during the six-game winning streak: run the ball, generate first downs, sustain possession and, most importantly, keep the defense off the field.

In short: are rival teams declaring that they prefer to have Dez and the passing game beat them, since that strategy ultimately serves to expose the Cowboys’ vulnerable defense?

Cowboys defense greater than the sum of its parts?

Neithan20000: I'm thinking the defensive is greater than the sum of it's constituent parts. I was breaking down film last night, and a few plays stood out to me. Plays where no individual player stood out or "made a play" but because they did their job the defense was successful.

That's happening on the macro level as well. No one part of the defense stands out; we're not great against the run, coverage isn't the best, nor is the pass rush. But the defense is doing its job, keeping us in every game, and preventing the other team from scoring points.

We're 7-3, baby!

Tom Ryle: I just keep coming back to one thing: 7-3. The back to back losses put a bad taste in our mouths, but all of us know how quickly we would have signed up for that last August as the record going into the bye week. I remember having my typical preseason hopes that the team could catch fire this season, and to a surprising extent, it has. Now they just need to close out the season strongly and keep the key personnel healthy.

Also, to follow up on OCC's point, isn't having a bunch of players you need to pay a lot better than having too many that you need to shed? I think the team is in a pretty good place on the roster, and even though there are some players that they might wish they could get away from, for the most part, they are having to figure out how to retain talent. Beats the heck out of having to tear the roster down.

Favorable schedule ahead?

Dawn Macelli: It is the bye week, so I am allowing myself to look ahead. Six games to go, four against division foes... I am liking how the schedule is shaping up. The Cowboys really do have their potential for success within their grasp. They control their own destiny. If this season comes down to another win-and-you're-in battle on week 17, Dawn is not going to be a happy camper.

Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-week $500,000 fantasy football league this weekend. It's $10 to join and first place wins $40,000. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday night. Here's the link.