IRVING, Texas -To start with here, I'll point out that I'm terrible at math and have no interest in it. Hand me any problem more difficult than the basic stuff, and I'll just guess that the answer is 12. I've found there's at least a decent chance it's 12.
For a journalism degree, I only had to take six hours of math in college, and that was almost too difficult. While the rest of my statistics class was learning how to figure probabilities and perform regression analysis, I was playing "Block Dude" on my TI-83. I only passed because of a caffeine-fueled cram session the night before the final exam, and as soon as I turned in my Scantron I gladly forgot everything I had learned the previous night.
So when people tell me something involving numbers and equations and all that stuff, I usually just take their word for it. Keep that in mind when you click this link to find Football Outsiders' 2011 DVOA Projections.
The guys at Football Outsiders chart every play of every NFL game, and use the numbers they come up with to make predictions about the future. DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, and is a formula they use which takes into account all essential variables to predict a team's record.
Finally, to the point. This year, Football Oustiders predicts 6.8 wins for your Dallas Cowboys.
Perhaps that's on the low side of what the team could achieve if things go right, but I'll point out that last year, when a lot of people were predicting Super Bowl, or another NFC East title or an otherwise really good season, Football Outsiders predicted the Cowboys would only win 7.7 games. As it turned out, they oversold the team's 2010 performance.
Of course, there's no way to get it right every year. In 2009, for example, they only predicted 7.9 wins for the Cowboys, and the team went 11-5 and won the division.
Do I totally believe Football Outsiders' predictions? No. But I'm bad enough at math to know that there are things I don't know.
So I'll take my go-to answer for all difficult questions involving numbers, 12, and their prediction, 6.8, and I'll split the difference (on a calculator, of course), to take a shot at picking this year's record.
Mark me down for a 9.4-win season. That feels about right.
Maybe the extra .4 will come in handy as a Wild Card tiebreaker.