I know it is not cool to be optimistic.....
But I am looking for the Cowboys to do much better than many are giving them credit for.
At the end of last season, I said if the Cowboys can stay relatively injury free to key starters in 2004 like they did in 2003, they would challenge for the superbowl. I still believe that.
I don't buy into the opinion that they will improve but finish with a worse record. IMO the only thing that will keep them out of the top 4 or 5 teams is major injuries to key players.
The defense should be just as good if not better with the addition of Wiley and a more experienced Roy Williams. Not to mention the nickel corner they signed last year who spent the season on injured reserve will be back.
The defensive line should be better, that may make up the difference if Hunter can't quite play as well as Edwards did. In only his 1st yr as a starter, I don't think he will be as good as Edwards, but I don't think he will be much worse.
The main problem last year was the offense. They sucked at blocking, running and passing with any serious consistency. But they still finished with a 10-6 regular season record.
Now I don't see how they won't improve at all three of those phases slightly with a healthy Larry Allen, more experienced Gurode and some talented rookies on the o-line including the center who was injured last year.
The improved o-line, along with the addition of a more talented runner in Julius Jones, should help the running game improve enough to force the defense to play more 8 men in the box formations.
IMO, a more experienced Quincy Carter can take advantage of the better passing situations, an emerging tight end in Witten and the addition of Keyshawn Johnson to provide a more consistent passing attack.
The Cowboys don't need anyone to become superstars on offense they just need more consistent play from the unit as a whole.
I think they will get it this year, unless injuries knocks out too many key players. I think they are the best coached team in the NFL, or at least 2nd best next to NE.
And that makes a huge difference IMO.
I picked them to win 9-10 games last year if they could stay healthy. This year I'm picking them to win 11-12. Unless they go out and make a major move for a Ty Law, Orlando Pace, or Kerry Collins, then I'd have to bump 'em up to 12-13.