Great Expectations

The chance to play at home is the perfect dangling carrot for a Super Bowl run.

know Jay Ratliff played hurt most of 2009? He says he'll be better without having to compensate for two injured elbows. Jason Hatcher is pushing Marcus Spears. You've got to think Anthony Spencer will be even more disruptive after a full year of starting, and DeMarcus Ware will at least begin training camp at 100 percent following so many nicks and bruises last season. Mike Jenkins and Gerald Sensabaugh both have another year in the system.

On special teams Bryant has the potential to be explosive on punt returns, and for all the hand-wringing about kicker, it's hard to think David Buehler can miss any more than Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham.

This was a team that for a while last season played as well as any other. One year later they should be taking that next step.

The Cowboys play one of the league's toughest schedules, but there's not a single team they should fear, including Minnesota. Barring an almost unfathomable collapse they should be battle-tested when the postseason begins. A year of continuity and natural progression might make them good enough for another round or two of homefield advantage.

After the Cowboys' last Super Bowl win of the 1970s it was 15 more years before they got back to the summit. It's now been a decade and a half since their last title season, 1995. Some things are meant to be. With the talent the Cowboys have assembled, the frame of mind the team appears to be in and the Super Bowl in their own house, it would be a real shame if they didn't win it.

Because this is supposed to be their year.

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