2nd Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: Dallas Cowboys

The NFC East is up next in our continuing previews of all 32 NFL teams, beginning with the Dallas Cowboys, who won the division last season.

The Cowboys surprised many last season by finishing with a 12-4 record — their best since 2007 — and winning the NFC East after three consecutive 8-8 seasons. There weren’t many questions about the offense heading into 2014 but people thought the defense could be historically bad, but the D ended up being middle-of-the-pack, finishing 15th in the league. This year, there’s a question of how good the running game will be after RB DeMarco Murray signed with the Eagles in the offseason.

QB Tony Romo had one of the worst passing totals of his career in 2014, with 3,705 yards, but had the second-best touchdown and interception numbers of his career, 34 and nine, respectively, in 15 games. The team was able to win games despite Romo’s average stats because of the running game, which finished as the second-best in the league, led by the now-departed Murray behind a strong offensive line. RB Joseph Randle, who served as Murray’s back-up, ran for 343 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries last season. The receiving game was led by WR Dez Bryant, had 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a career-best 16 touchdowns.

Looking ahead to this season, as mentioned earlier, we’re not sure what the Cowboys are going to get out of the running back position this season. The team signed veteran RB Darren McFadden, who is expected to be the starter as the season begins, but he has been injury-prone throughout his career, having never started more than 13 games in any season of his seven-year career with the Raiders. Randle hasn’t had a chance to show what he can do with a full workload in his first two years in the league, but he might get that opportunity if McFadden can’t stay healthy this season.

The Cowboys open their schedule with two straight divisional games, a Week 1 prime-time matchup against the Giants at home, followed by a road game with the Eagles. Their toughest stretch of the season looks to be the four games from Weeks 5 to 9, beginning with a home game against the Patriots, though that would be the last game of Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension if his four-game ban is held up. The Cowboys then travel to New Jersey to play the Giants, followed by back-to-back home games with the Seahawks and Eagles. The Cowboys end their season with a road game at the Redskins, likely the worst team in the division this season. I think the Cowboys and Eagles are going to compete for the division title and if the Cowboys can get good production out of their running backs, they should have a better overall team than the Eagles and should be able to win the division with a 10-12 win season.

Source: http://www.dallascowboys.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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