Tony Romo's long-awaited return is here, but the even with their franchise quarterback back from a collarbone injury, the Cowboys know it'll take a team effort to end their seven-game losing streak this Sunday against the Dolphins.
What will be Sunday's result? Here are the gut feelings from our DallasCowboys.com staff writers:
Nick Eatman: I don't think it took this season for me to realize the value of Tony Romo. But I never dreamed this team, or any team would go 0-7 without their starter. Romo means everything to this team and that's why things will get better Sunday. Now let's not forget about the rust factor and that he might not be as sharp or crisp. Still, his awareness will be there and for that, this offense will be much better. I've got eight catches for Witten for an even 1,000 for his career, and McFadden gets 125 yards on the ground. The defense will get a couple of turnovers and more importantly, I predict the Cowboys to finally win one of these grinder games, 23-14.
David Helman: The great philosopher-poet Big Sean once wrote that "One Man Can Change the World." Never has that been proven truer than in the case of the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo. Throughout this seven-game losing streak, how often have we noted the impact his absence has made? This team hasn't been able to win even one game. With all of that in mind, I'm going to go against my initial instinct and pick the Cowboys. Despite the fact that they have devised seemingly every way to lose, I really do think Romo can be the difference against a schizophrenic Dolphins team. I think he'll have no problem finding all of his targets, and it'll open up the Miami defense for the running game to have success – which is exactly what we haven't seen in so many games this season. With Romo back, Dez and Beasley will enjoy the type of success they're used to, and the Cowboys will run for 130 yards as a team. Gavin Escobar will score a touchdown, and someone on the Dallas defense will pick off Ryan Tannehill – let's say Sean Lee, because of course. It won't be easy, but Dallas will stave off elimination with a road win – something like 27-21.
Bryan Broaddus: Studying the Dolphins on defense it is all about their defensive line. If they control the front they can control this game. Where they are going to struggle is if you do handle them it is in the secondary - especially at safety. Cowboys are going to strive for balance in this game but my gut feeling is that when the ball does go in the air it is going to be Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar having the success. The Dolphins are going to have trouble with these Cowboys tight ends the entire day and it will be their play that results in a Dallas victory, 27-20.
Rob Phillips:Tony Romo was exactly right when he said the Dolphins' defense will be a challenge in his first game back. Their front is really good, and interim coach Dan Campbell has the entire team playing with great energy. But in a season that has provided so much disappointment and bad fortune to date -- the franchise hasn't lost seven straight games in 26 years, and most of the losses have been close -- you have to think the Cowboys will match Miami's energy level with Romo back. They really need to run the ball well to keep him in favorable down and distance, and conversely, Miami's Lamar Miller is among the league leaders in yards per carry (4.8). Sunday will come down to who controls the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but hey: The Cowboys are 77-48 since 2006 when Romo plays, and they're 0-9 without him since 2013. This is a game they've got to win, and I think they get it done with their leader back, 30-21.