http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9629356/bill-barnwell-nfl-teams-worse-2013 Dallas Cowboys 2012 Record:8-8 Pythagorean Wins:7.4 (overperformed by 0.6 wins, 11th-luckiest in league) Record in Games Decided by Seven Points or Fewer:7-5 (0.583, eighth-best in league) Strength of Schedule:0.539 (third-hardest in league) Turnover Margin:Minus-13 (tied for 27th in league) 2013 Out-of-Division Schedule:AFC West, NFC North, vs. Rams, at Saints Give Dallas this: You can certainly envision a scenario in which it all comes together and the Cowboys win 13 games. They've got the franchise quarterback, the trio of elite receivers, the superstar pass rusher, the sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker, and the pair of talented cornerbacks. You wouldn't hesitate to build the core of your team through the sorts of players the Cowboys have in their core, nor should you. The problem with the Cowboys is that, as much as it's often portrayed as such, it's rarely the core that does them in. It's usually the weakest link. It's Abram Elam missing a tackle in the backfield and Gerald Sensabaugh overrunning Victor Cruz in the de facto playoff game against the Giants in Week 17 two years ago. It's Alex Barron literally costing the Cowboys the game in Week 1 of the 2010 season by holding Brian Orakpo. It's Chris Gronkowski missing a block in the backfield to let Michael Boley shatter Tony Romo's collarbone. It's Jason Garrett mismanaging the clock to set up needlessly long field goals twice over the past two seasons. Sure, occasionally, it's Romo dropping a field goal snap or Miles Austin coming up an inch short of a game-sealing touchdown catch. But it's usually the guys who the Cowboys are forced to play because they're both desperate and capped-out who cost them games. And, well, there's a lot of capped-out desperation on the roster this year. The 2006 through 2009 drafts for the Cowboys have left them with Doug Free, Jason Hatcher, Orlando Scandrick, and Anthony Spencer, which isn't much of a haul. And since all of those guys got big contracts, there's no space to bring in any notable veterans behind them. The Cowboys might have more street free agents and players with no upside who are one false step away from playing a huge role than just about any non-Raiders team in the league. And it's still the same problems, too: The Cowboys are likely to start below-average players at four of the five spots on the offensive line, which is a hassle when your quarterback is at his best improvising with time to throw. They're remarkably thin at safety, turning things over to former Steelers backup Will Allen and former undrafted free agent Barry Church, who is coming off a torn Achilles. If the Cowboys don't turn it around and make the playoffs in 2013, it's because their stars-and-scrubs philosophy hasn't worked. Best-Case Scenario:Everybody does their job from top to bottom on the roster, and that includes Garrett, who coaches like the guy the Ravens actually wanted to hire over John Harbaugh a few years back. Romo leads the way with a banner year as the Cowboys win 12 games. Worst-Case Scenario:Romo lasts four games before getting hurt, and then Garrett doesn't last much longer before he gets canned. It becomes another lost season for a team that sure has a lot of lost seasons.