Here's a rundown of 10 power rankings published heading into Week 1 and their take on where the Cowboys rank this year. A little further down you can see how that compares to the rest of the NFC East.
Week 1 Rankings
The Cowboys may have to use the short passing game as an extension of the run game now that DeMarco Murray is gone, and Tony Romo may have more pressure on him this year to carry the offense. The additions of edge rushers Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory and a healthy DeMarcus Lawrence will give the Cowboys’ pass defense a major bump.
We'll see if the best offensive line in the business looks as good without DeMarco Murray running behind them.
As impressive as last year’s finish was, it still feels like an outlier after so much recent mediocrity. The offensive line is the best in football, but DeMarco Murray’s departure will hurt and the defense — Dallas’ Achilles’ heel — doesn’t appear to be significantly improved, especially after cornerback Orlando Scandrick’s recent season-ending injury.
Dallas is a sleeper NFC pick for me (and probably only me), but there are plenty of question marks on the defensive side of the ball, especially while Greg Hardy sits out the first four games.
Everyone is concerned about who's running the rock and how the Orlando Scandrick injury will impact the defense. But Dallas' front seven has a chance to be special. Forget Randy Gregory and Greg Hardy for a second. DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford are developing players who can make the leap, so to speak, this year. And having Sean Lee in there at WLB makes a huge difference, particularly in coverage.
The Cowboys went 12-4 last season while rushing on an NFL-high 48 percent of offensive plays. Will they still be as committed to the run now that DeMarco Murray is in Philadelphia?
On Christine Michael, the running back acquired from Seattle, keep in mind that if the Cowboys thought of him as a starter they'd have been offering more than a conditional seventh-round pick to get him. The Cowboys' running back situation is still the NFL's most interesting experiment this season.
This site measures the relative strength of all teams using team performance, home/away status, margin of victory and other factors.
Oddsshark use a multitude of stats to establish an offensive and defensive power ranking, which they then adjust for the strength of schedule.
The Cowboys defense finished #2 in the NFL with 31 takeaways last year, and Tony Romo finished with the league's highest QB rating. Don't expect either stat to repeat!
The table below summarizes the power rankings for the four NFC East teams.
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Do you think the rankings above are an accurate reflection of where the Cowboys and the three other teams stand as they kick off the 2015 NFL season in a few days?