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Dallas Cowboys: 12 things That Make 2016 A Year To Get Excited About

In the holiday spirit, I bring you the Dallas Cowboys version of the 12 days of Christmas.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Merry Christmas, Cowboys fans! The 2015 season has not been the most joyous of times, but there are still many reasons to be grateful. As we look forward to the new year, here are 12 things that make 2016 a year to get excited about.

On the first day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

A top 2016 NFL draft pick

While the real Christmas is upon us, next April will bring the Cowboys a nice little present - a top collegiate player. The actual draft position is still way up in the air, Dallas is going find themselves in a great spot to get a blue-chip player. And they will find themselves near the front of the line in every round of the draft so if the brain trusts can put together a great board, the Cowboys could really score big in this draft.

On the second day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Two more Cowboys football games

While some fans are ready for this season to be over, just remember - in a few months you'll be counting the days until the first preseason football game. If a meaningless game with a bunch of players that won't make the team is enough to get you excited, then you should embrace these last two games where a bunch of starters are still playing. Cheer on your favorite players, and just relax and enjoy the festivities because a day cheering on the star is always a good day.

On the third day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Three Pro Bowl linemen

The Cowboys have a young foundation of blockers on this team. Tyron Smith has been inked to be on this team for a long time. Zack Martin will play for peanuts for the next couple seasons, and Travis Frederick is still under contract for 2016. If you add a year of development for the new kid, La'el Collins - the Cowboys are again primed to have one of the best offensive line entering next season. And that doesn't even take into account what Chaz Green could offer. Green was the team's 2015 "what were they thinking?" draft pick and if he performs like their last questionable pick (Hitchens), then he could end up being the final piece to the puzzle for the offensive line.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Four more years of Dez

The Cowboys signed Dez Bryant to a 5-year/$70 million deal this season. Year number one of this deal wasn't very fruitful for the Cowboys. An injured foot and a duck-throwing QB hasn't helped his cause, but things should be a little different going forward. He's in the prime of his career and you don't have to be too imaginative to close your eyes and think back to the double-digit TDs the Cowboys star receiver has had in his previous three seasons.

Romo and Dez are the Cowboys franchise leader in touchdowns for any QB/WR combination and they will be padding their lead in 2016.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Five Super Bowl rings!

Haters grow tired of Cowboys fans bringing up their history but that's just too darn bad. Maybe if their team would have beat the Cowboys when they had the chance, we all wouldn't be in this position. Past greatness can't undo itself and the wonderful memories this team has given all of us is something we will always cherish.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Six games against the NFC East

The Cowboys are in line to have a favorable, last-place schedule in 2016, but that's not where the fun ends. They'll get their usual six games against their divisional foes and there isn't a single team that looks remotely scary. The Cowboys have only been able to win four games this season, but three of them have been against NFC East teams. If the Cowboys reload next season and come back healthy, 2015 will just be a small hiccup and they should be able to get back to running the East.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Year number seven for Sean Lee

The opinions of Sean Lee vary with some fans acknowledging that he is flat out phenomenal and others feeling that he can't stay healthy enough to rely on. Both are right. When healthy, he's remarkable, however he just doesn't seem to have the physical makeup to withstand the beating an NFL linebacker endures. The Cowboys seem to recognize such as he was moved to weakside linebacker in order to reduce the pounding he'd take. Unfortunately, he's still missed time this season due to injury, but it's only been two games and he's been very production in the ones he's played. If the position switch is a contributing factor in sustaining his health, then the Cowboys may be able to get more out of their star linebacker in the future.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

$8 million not spent on DeMarco Murray

Last year the Cowboys led the league in dead money with a ridiculous $27.5 million paying for a whole lot of nothing. The Cowboys have been a lot more careful when handing out contracts, which was evident when they let Murray walk last offseason. Dallas still had to eat $18 million this season with Miles Austin, Kyle Orton, and Jasper Brinkley taking up a good chunk of it. But next year will be a different story. As of now, they have less than $1 million on the books for 2016 dead money. As Tom Ryle pointed out, there are still some decisions looming this coming offseason that could result in some dead money hits (Brandon Carr, Doug Free, and Barry Church), but even if they cut their losses with all those players, the money lost will be far less than seasons' past. The Cowboys still have to be cautious about how they use their cap space, but one thing is for sure - this team isn't throwing a bunch of money away like they've done in the past.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

Nine lousy turnovers

The Cowboys are dead last in turnovers this season with only nine. If they don't create a couple more turnovers, they'll hold the single season record for fewest turnover in NFL history. Last season, the Cowboys finished second in the league in takeaways with 31. While it is perplexing as to why the Cowboys have have struggled in this department, an improvement in 2016 is very likely. If the offense can right the ship, then opposing defenses will have to take more risks. Natural regression to the mean will play a role too as the ball can't keep bouncing away from them forever.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

A top 10 defense

The Cowboys front office said they were going to make a concentrated effort to improve on defense. While there are still things that can be improved upon, they have made great strides in strengthening this group. It's still a work in progress with a lot of young players, but they are still good enough to make it in the top 10. Just think what it will look like when they get their top 10 offense back.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

11 years of Romo starting

Having a viable backup quarterback will be one of the most talked about subjects this offseason. How the Cowboys go about it anyone's guess as they could use free agency or entertain some different options in next year's draft. While how that goes down will be interesting, there is one thing that still lingers - Tony Romo is a very good quarterback. His resiliency won't be something to hang your hat on, but if he's out there, chances are he's going to be pretty good. The offensive woes this team has experienced this season will not be present if Romo is out there making plays. 2015 has been Romo's tenth season where he's started games for the Cowboys at QB. At a youthful 35 years of age, he should be ready for year number 11.

On the twelve day of Christmas, the Cowboys gave to me...

12-foot jumping corner

When the Cowboys selected combine record setting cornerback, Byron Jones, fans were pretty excited. He's got amazing athleticism coupled with a great mind for the game. His first season has been a good one. He has played remarkably well against some great tight ends this season and has been as good as advertised when it comes to his versatility, playing both corner and safety. And to say he's flexible would be an understatement, as he had one of the more freakish transformer-like mutations when he popped his knee back into place. With each new snap, he's only getting better and this kid looks like he's going to be a great player in this league.

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