The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season.
Today, our staff completes the series by debating whether the Cowboys can bounce back from a 4-12 season to win the NFC East in 2016.
No. 1) Will The Cowboys Win The NFC East?
David Helman:Mark me down for yes. Why not? It's impossible to project the NFL playoff race in July, but the Cowboys look capable of winning the division as they head toward training camp. Yes, the pass rush looks bad, and the team is entirely dependent on Tony Romo staying healthy. But, as I said yesterday, I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation. I also don't think the problems on defense will be a serious issue, so long as the offense clicks the way it's supposed to. This team looks capable of controlling the clock and imposing its will on opponents – which was the recipe for a 12-4 record in 2014. I don't think the formula will work quite as well this time around, as the problems on defense look pretty troublesome. But I think the 2016 Cowboys are capable of going 10-6, which feels like enough to win the NFC East and get this club back to the playoffs.
Nick Eatman:Yes, they're going to win the NFC East. Romo is going to be healthy, Dez is going to be dynamic again and Ezekiel Elliott will make the offense even tougher than before. While the defense might have its issues early, this offense will again be one of the NFL's best. For that reason I think the Cowboys win 10 games and that should win the division. What happens next is anyone's guess.
Bryan Broaddus:Games at Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Minnesota are going to be swing games. Both Dallas and the New York Giants have to play their games on the road while Philadelphia and Washington catch a break by getting this group of games at home. If there is a positive sign for the Cowboys, they have been a much better road team than at home in recent history. The last time they won the NFC East in 2014, they were 8-0 on the road. Regardless, playing the NFC North and AFC North plus your own division will be no easy task. I see this as a nine-win team and I don't believe that will be enough to take the division. But find a way to beat the Packers, Steelers and Vikings on the road – I will be likely singing a different tune.
Rob Phillips:The last time the Cowboys bounced back from five or fewer wins the previous season was 2003, Bill Parcells' first year as head coach. I still believe injuries, not lack of talent, were the primary reason for the team's 4-12 record last year. Given the Cowboys' issues with the pass rush, I'm not sure they're the most complete team in the NFC East this year. But the offense has the potential to be the best single unit in the division, and possibly the league, if everyone stays healthy. Obviously, the Cowboys know better than anyone a key injury here and there can ruin an entire season. Ten wins could be difficult given the two quality divisions they're playing (NFC North and AFC North), but the Giants, Eagles and Redskins are playing the same eight games, too. It could come down to NFC East play, and I think this offense, if it can stay healthy, can score enough points to finish at the top of the standings. And maybe more leads will help the defense force more takeaways as they did in 2014.