The 2015 season kicks off for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, so now is a good time to review what the national opinion thinks about how the Cowboys season will unfold this year.
ESPN's NFL Nation predicts the Cowboys will finish with an 11-5 record and win the NFC East. Todd Archer explains explains that a somewhat favorable schedule (the Cowboys have back-to-back games against teams with winning records in 2014 just once), coupled with a strong offense will carry the Cowboys to the playoffs again. Last year, ESPN predicted a fourth straight 8-8 season.
In 2014, bleacherreport predicted a 5-11 finish and last place in the East for the Cowboys, predicted that Jason Garrett would be fired during the season, and predicted that DeMarco Murray's numbers would drop off. This year, somewhere in a 32-page slidehow, their prediction is for a 10-6 record.
MMQB: Andy Benoit sees the Cowboys winning the NFC East with an 11-5 or 12-4. Last year, not one of the six MMQB writers polled interrupted their Eagles love fest to consider the possibility of the Cowboys making the playoffs.
cbssports.com's Pat Kirwan has the Cowboys making the playoffs - but as a wildcard team, coming in second in the NFC East behind the Eagles. Kirwan likes the potential of the Cowboys' front seven, but thinks the loss of Scandrick and Murray will give the Eagles a slight edge in the East. Last year, Kirwan had the Cowboys finishing last in the NFC East with a 6-10 record.
FoxSports.com: Without committing to a specific number of wins, Peter Schrager predicts the Cowboys will miss the playoffs this year, arguing that the Cowboys overperformed last year, and that a killer schedule will do them in this year. Of note, Schrager was the only national pundit to predict success for the Cowboys in 2014, when he predicted a 10-6 record and January football for the Cowboys.
USAToday.com: Nate Davis predicted a 3-13 record last year and ups it to 8-8 this year.
SI.com: A "stunning" 12-4 in 2014 made the Cowboys overconfident this year, Don Banks writes. So overconfident, that in a move "the Cowboys will come to regret," they let DeMarco Murray go. That means no playoffs for the Cowboys in 2015, though thy remain good enough for second place in the NFC East, according to Banks. For a team SI.com predicted to have the worst record in the league last year, that's still quite an achievement, what with the overconfidence and all that.
That's a decidedly mixed picture at a national level, but why stray too far from home? The local sentiment in Dallas, at least according to the DMN experts, is much better. The ten experts polled by the DMN in the chart below all see the Cowboys with double-digit wins in 2015, and eight of the 10 have the Cowboys winning the NFC East.