There is a large range when it comes to fans expectations this season. After a disappointing 4-12 season, many fans are skeptical, others feel like this team can pick up where they left off after the 2014 season where the Cowboys went 12-4 and won a playoff game. Or maybe you find yourself somewhere in the middle.
While many fans seem to be migrating towards a more positive season, I wanted to examine a few possible scenarios.
13-3 A Trip To The NFC Championship
Some may think there is a little blue kool-aid homerism tied in to such a prognosis, but this one isn’t really that hard to fathom. After all, the team won 12 games the year before last. If a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant make that much of a difference, then the Cowboys should be able to get themselves back on track. The offense should be able to use more clock, put up more points, and help our their defensive comrades by forcing their opponents to take more chances. The Cowboys defense was second in the league in turnovers in 2014, and dead last in 2015. Having a top-five scoring offense back on the field will be a welcoming sight for the defense.
But there are other things that will aid in the Cowboys success as well. The biggest one will be the addition of Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. If you liked watching DeMarco Murray run, you’re going to love Zeke! The offense may have played small-ball with a lot of grind-it-out, dirty yards and that won’t change as the running game will still be the identity of the offense. It’s just now – they have themselves a homerun threat as well.
And finally, the icing on the cake that will add more W’s in the standings will come from having a weak schedule. Dallas will play 10 of their 16 games against teams with a losing record. And that doesn’t include the two games they have with the Redskins.
If the Cowboys end up being a good team this year, they could end up having a favorable record with the help of such a cushy schedule. They will reap the benefits by walking away with the NFC East title and do some damage in the playoffs. The sky would be the limit, but look for the Cowboys to be vying for NFC supremacy in January.
10-6 Fight For The East
The Cowboys rebound back into contention, but still learn they have some work to do. The holes on defense aren’t as easily masked from an efficient offense as many had hoped. A slow start is the main culprit in this one. The team feels the effect of not having two of their key pass rushers available and are left scrambling for production from other guys. The amount of splash plays are few and far between on the defense.
But even more than just not having some players available, the offense struggles to get out of the block. Romo feels a little rusty, similar to how he fared in week one against San Francisco where he threw three interceptions (he finished the year with only nine).
The Cowboys get themselves back on track and gain some nice momentum, winning seven of their last nine games. Their final four games are all against teams with a losing record, so if they are rolling in December, it should be a strong finish. It could come down to a week 17 win-to-get-in game for Dallas, which hasn’t been so kind to the team over the last several years. But with some good health and the team firing on all cylinders, they could put that demon to rest.
5-11 Goodbye Jason
Having the Mumford procedure doesn’t mean your clavicle can’t be broken and the Cowboys are always going to be one bad hit away from disaster. If Tony does in fact get hurt, it will be "take-two" of the incredible adventures at quarterback. Only this time, it will star Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott. The coaching staff is well aware of such tragedy that is the 2015 season, but for some reason feels comfortable with these young QBs. They’ve been burned once, and it’s not impossible to be burned again. Only this time it will come at a cost – the firing of Jason Garrett.
Hey, we’ve all trusted the process, but the process didn’t work. So it's time for a new process. If the Cowboys only win five games this season – something is not right. And as much as I love Coach Garrett, it would be time to accept the possibility that he just doesn’t have it together.
Phantom Prediction: I’m buying a lot of Zeke stock and expect to cash in big time. While it’s hard to predict the health of Tony Romo, a stronger clavicle and deferring to the new toy running back will keep him upright. I’m rolling with the 13-win season.
Which team do you expect to see in 2016? Will the Cowboys find their mojo or will fans be looking at some of the top college prospects again in next year’s draft?