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NFC East Preview: Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys will look to shake off a string of poor seasons.

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys will look to shake off a string of poor seasons.

It’s been 17 years since Larry Brown twice intercepted Neil O’Donnell and the Dallas Cowboys went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. Now, for the 18th time, the Cowboys will look to relive the glory of that night in Tempe, Ariz.

While the ‘Triplets’ may be long gone, but certainly not forgotten, expectation has weighed heavily on the Cowboys’ shoulders since the 1995 team went on to win the franchise’s fifth title and third in four years. The Cowboys’ status as ‘America’s Team’ demands success year in, year out, yet success has been (almost) inexplicably absent for the better part of two decades.

January 1996 was a longtime ago.

January 1996 was a longtime ago.

This year, expectation continues to be thrown in the Cowboys’ direction, and whilst there are plenty of teams that have shorter odds of getting to MetLife Stadium in February, few garner the attention that the Cowboys do.

Head coach Jason Garrett will lead the Cowboys’ charge once more. Garrett faces his own consignment of expectation and the pressure that comes with it; it’s hard to imagine owner/general manager Jerry Jones accepting another lost season. Meanwhile, quarterback Tony Romo will be in the firing line again. In fact, he’ll be in the firing line until he proves he can win in the postseason. One win in four tries simply doesn’t cut it with the Dallas faithful and the multitude of talking heads ready to rain down their opinion.

So, how will the Cowboys fair this season? That is one of the toughest questions to answer mainly because of the club’s continued inconsistency. Well, at least the Cowboys are consistently inconsistent.

Before you lay down any cash this summer, or if you’re thinking of laying down any more, BettignSports.com has put together a useful digest of the information, stats and odds you need to know before kickoff next month. We start with a brief overview of last year’s campaign.

2012 Overview

Recent_History_DALDallas started the 2012 campaign with a bang, upsetting the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants in a Wednesday night curtain raiser. The following week would prove a harbinger of the season to follow as the Cowboys fell to the underdog Seattle Seahawks in the Emerald City. A narrow win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 would give Cowboy fans reason to feel (almost) better, but only for a short time.

A string of four losses over the next five games debilitated the team for much of the remainder of the campaign. Granted, all four losses came to teams that would go on to make the playoffs, but a 3-5 record at the halfway stage told you everything you needed to know about this team.

Dallas would go on to record wins from the next six, giving the team a shot at the postseason. But losses to the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins in weeks 16 and 17 respectively saw the team finish 8-8 for the second straight year, and miss out on the postseason for a third consecutive campaign. Ultimately, a 3-7 record against teams that finished .500 or better wasn’t good enough to succeed. Nor was a rushing game that averaged a meager 79.1 yards per game. Only the Arizona Cardinals (75.3YPG) were worse on the ground.


The biggest departure came in the form of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was relieved of his duties as the Cowboys’ defense found itself in the bottom half of the league in passing and rushing yards allowed, and a lowly 24th in points allowed. Monte Kiffin – who built a punishing defense with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – takes over the reins.

Other notable departures include RB Felix Jones (Philadelphia), CB Mike Jenkins (Oakland), WR Kevin Ogletree (Tampa Bay) and DT Marcus Spears (Baltimore).


Dallas’ biggest decision this offseason revolved around what to do with LB Anthony Spencer, who recorded a career-best 11 sacks last season. The front office opted to slap the franchise tag on the 28-year-old and will take another look at the scenario during/after this season.

Notable players arriving in Big D include LB Justin Durant (from Detroit) and S Will Allen (from Pittsburgh).

The Cowboys used their top three draft picks to select C Travis Frederick (Wisconsin), TE Gavin Escobar (San Diego State) and WR Terrence Williams (Baylor).

News & Notes

Perhaps the biggest story this offseason was Tony Romo’s contract. The Cowboys handed the quarterback a six-year, $108 million deal with $55 million guaranteed. That’s enough to be the biggest deal in franchise history. Now Jerry Jones and Co. expect for a return on that dividend.

In terms of off-the-field news, the Cowboys were as noisy as ever. The team was reported by Forbes to be the most valuable franchise in the ‘Big Four’ US sporting leagues, at a worth of $2.3 billion. A sizeable portion of that worth came from a naming rights deal that will see Cowboys Stadium renamed AT&T Stadium.

Elsewhere, a tragic automobile accident took the life of linebacker Jerry Brown and saw tackle Josh Brent charged with intoxicated manslaughter. After a prolonged summer that saw the Cowboys’ franchise offer some rare compassion, Brent retired from the game to seek help.


Schedule_DALWhen the Cowboys take to the field for the opening installment of Sunday Night Football on September 8, the team will be looking at what should be a manageable schedule.

The NFC East side will play just eight teams that finished last year with a winning record. Five of these meetings will be at the newly re-monikered AT&T Stadium. In addition, the side will hit the road for eight games against teams tallying a .414 record last season, the fourth easiest road schedule of any NFL team.

Overall, the Cowboys face a .475 strength of schedule, the eighth easiest in the league.

However, that schedule should be taken with a pinch of salt. The Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles all have the potential to be better teams this season. The New Orleans Saints meanwhile are all but guaranteed to be better. That leaves very little room for maneuver for the Cowboys.

Success in all likelihood will ultimately be determined by how Dallas fares against its NFC East rivals. In a division that is notoriously hard to pick, and one bookmakers are not having fun with this season, games against divisional opponents will make all the difference, one way or another. It’s also worth pointing out that the Cowboys have recorded a winning record within the division just three times over the last decade.

Current Odds

Here is a selection of the odds currently available from Bovada.

Odds to Win Super Bowl XLVIII: 33/1 (Rank: 13th)

Odds to Win NFC: 14/1 (Rank: 7)

Odds to Win NFC East: 21/10 (Rank: 2)

Regular Season Win Total: 8½ Over (-105) Under (-125)

Will the Dallas Cowboys Make the Playoffs: Yes (+150) No (-180)

Division_odds_NFCEastThe Cowboys find themselves behind (albeit narrowly behind) the Giants in the eyes of the bookmakers. The Giants have been assessed odds of 2/1 to win the NFC East compared to Dallas’ 21/10. That’s the sort of closeness to expect from the NFC East this year.

Elsewhere, bookmakers are looking not to get burned by the Cowboys again. The side hasn’t made the postseason in its last three attempts, and it’s not expected to do so this year. If, and that’s a big if, the team plays to its potential though, it has more than enough to make a January appearance.

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BettingSports.com will continue its preview of the NFC East next Thursday when we take a look at the New York Giants.

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