Kickoff season previews  


Abundance of talent leads to big expecations in Big D

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Dallas Cowboys

2009 record: 11-5 (First in NFC East)
Bucky Brooks
The Cowboys are loaded on both sides of the ball. There's enough talent to thrash the competition and claim another division title.
Prediction:  12-4, first in NFC East
Vic Carucci
The Cowboys have the talent to win arguably the most competitive division in the NFL. Are they primed to be the first Super Bowl host?
Prediction:  10-6, first in NFC East
Pat Kirwan
Won division last year for Wade Phillips, who has 33 wins in three seasons with Dallas. Defense gave up 15.6 points a game in 2009.
Prediction:  11-5, first in NFC East
Jason La Canfora
Wade Phillips-led D is solid, offense is loaded. Need Marion Barber and Felix Jones to stay healthy and have Doug Free adequately replace Flozell Adams.
Prediction:  12-4, first in NFC East
Michael Lombardi
They are talented, but their offensive line must be able to play all 16 games without injury. Need Dez Bryant to have a big-time rookie year.
Prediction:  10-6, first in NFC East
Steve Wyche
Tony Romo has a lot of toys and Doug Free will be fine at left tackle. Talent and depth everywhere. Corner Mike Jenkins is a rising star.
Prediction:  11-5, first in NFC East
Ranking of Dallas' pass defense. Even though the Cowboys finished the year as a top-10 defense overall, the unit will look to improve on stopping opposing passing games.
Roy Williams
Williams is squarely on the hot seat despite posting a career high in yards per catch (15.7) last year. He was brought in to be the No. 1 receiver, but spent most of the year in a complementary role to Jason Witten and Miles Austin. With rookie first-rounder Dez Bryant on board as the heir apparent, the pressure is on for Williams to step up his game.
DeMarcus Ware
Ware, a four-time Pro Bowler, is the Cowboys' defensive linchpin with his relentless motor and outstanding rush skills. Although Ware's game is built on speed and quickness, his emerging arsenal of rush moves has made him nearly impossible to block off the edge. With a training camp spent working with former Cowboys legend, Charles Haley, Ware should continue to rank as one of the league's premier pass rushers.
Don't sleep on Barber just yet
Felix Jones is a popular sleeper in fantasy circles, but Marion Barber remains atop the depth chart and shouldn't be forgotten. Remember, his best seasons came while in a committee with Julius Jones. The fact that Barber will also see most of the goal-line work just adds to his value.
Three pivotal games
Oct. 17 at Minnesota
The Cowboys won a playoff game for the first time in 13 years last season, but managed to score just three points in an embarrassing divional round loss to the Vikings. The stage is set for a rematch of epic proportions ... or somewhere in the vicinity. You'd have to think Dallas will certainly have revenge on its mind.
Nov. 7 at Green Bay
The Cowboys open November in a big way when they take on the Packers, who defeated Dallas at Lambeau Field last season. This game is in primetime, so you can expect a playoff-like atmosphere. That might not be a bad thing, either, since both teams are expected to make deep postseason runs -- if not go all the way to the Super Bowl.
Nov. 25 vs. New Orleans
Games played on the last Thursday in November can usually be marked as an easy "W" for the Cowboys. After blowout victories on Thanksgiving for the last four years, the schedule gets a little tougher as "America's Team" gets tested by Drew Brees and the defending champion Saints. This could get dubbed as a preview of the NFC title game.



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