We see this question every year. After watching the NFC and AFC Championship Games, how far away from the Super Bowl are the Cowboys compared to teams like the Eagles, 49ers, Chiefs and Bengals? What's the biggest difference between those teams and Dallas? – Brad Parker/Denver, CO
Patrik: Raw emotions aside, the fact is the Cowboys are closer to those teams than many would objectively admit. Consider the fact they were without Dak Prescott for five games and lost several other starters to injury — some season-ending (e.g., Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown) — and still finished 12-5 for a second consecutive season (beating the Bengals with Cooper Rush, no less) and advanced to the NFC Divisional Round. Then consider they could've finished with a 15-2 record if they didn't take their foot off of the accelerator in Green Bay and Jacksonville, and if they didn't mail it in against Washington. They didn't suffer a single two-game losing streak all year, something only the Cowboys, Vikings and Chiefs can boast, and they dispelled the myth the front office isn't willing to throw big names at positions of need. So, what's the difference? One word: consistency.
Nick: Nobody outside of the building wants to admit this, but the Cowboys are very close. I don't believe in the "horseshoes and hand grenades" theory either. Close matters in a lot of areas and this is one of them. Now, looking at some of the changes to the coaching staff, it doesn't seem you'd make so many moves for a team that close. But talent-wise, the Cowboys are right there. They went 2-2 against teams that reached the conference finals, beating the Eagles and Bengals and losing to the 49ers and Eagles. All four games were relatively close, but that just shows me the Cowboys are right there and they can compete. But can they get to the next level? That's what needs to happen next regular season. You have to be able to withstand injuries again and figure out how to win the division and play these playoff games at home. The Cowboys went 8-1 at AT&T Stadium last year, winning the last eight after that Week 1 debacle. Let's see what happens with the coaching changes and then free agency and the draft. But this will be a good roster once again that includes a few star players. If you've got that, there's always a chance to compete.