He Said, He Said: Are Dallas Cowboys a playoff team?

  • By Marc Sessler and Dan Hanzus NFL.com
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Win or lose, the Dallas Cowboys never stray far from the spotlight.

Jason Garrett coaches a talented roster, but the franchise hasn't won a playoff game since 2009. Operating in the rough-and-tumble NFC East, the Cowboys came within a Week 17 loss to the New York Giants of winning a division title. Following their 8-8 finish, there's pressure in Dallas to win now.

In their latest edition of "He Said, He Said," Around The League's Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler offer two opinions on a hot-buzz topic in the NFL.

Hanzus: Rebound in Big D

Full disclosure: The Cowboys' ghastly preseason opener had me teetering here. But like Thomas Earl Petty, I won't back down.

I still see the Cowboys as a 10-win team. That mark might not be good enough to win the NFC East, but it should get Dallas back to the postseason, a place it hasn't been since 2009.

Let's not get caught up in the idea that the Cowboys have a closing window. The core of this team -- Tony Romo (32), Dez Bryant (23), Jason Witten (30), DeMarcus Ware (30) and Miles Austin (28) -- are all squarely in their prime.

The offensive line is a major area of concern that can't be ignored, but if Dallas can find a way to get satisfactory play from their big men, it should have one of football's highest-scoring offenses.

Throw in a full offseason program for Rob Ryan, a rebuilt secondary with first-round pick Morris Claiborne and free-agent import Brandon Carr, and the typical brilliance of Ware, and there's too much talent here to ignore.

The Cowboys suffered from a serious deficiency of testicular fortitude last season, but I think that experience helps this team. It better, or Jason Garrett will be scavenging the classified ads in January.

Sessler: Dallas misses out

After Cowboys owner Jerry Jones saw the Giants crowned as champions for the second time in five seasons, he admitted it out loud: Dallas needs to be more like New York.

The Giants and Cowboys endured rocky regular seasons, but the Giants cohered with the money on the line. Dallas, meanwhile, crumbled. We've seen this before.

We're hammered every summer with propaganda trumpeting the talented Cowboys. Playoff predictions follow. Then, with actual games, the hyperbole is rendered meaningless.

Fact: One playoff win in 15 seasons.

And don't blame Tony Romo. The public's obsession with his occasional on-field gaffe has masked the truth: This has been a team of underachievers. I'm not convinced enough has changed in Dallas to predict three-plus more wins this time around.

Dallas faces a brutal schedule in a division that's improved from head to toe. I'm unwilling to call them the best in NFC East. It's comfortable and easy to pick the Cowboys every summer. I can't do that.

This wasn't a playoff team in 2011 and they won't be in 2012. I invite the Dallas Cowboys to prove me wrong. I'm not the only one waiting for them to do so.

Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler write for Around the League. They fear the closing of their own metaphorical windows at all times.