Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) reacts after getting sacked in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. The Packers beat the Cowboys 37-36. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

14 Bold Predictions for 2014: The Dallas Cowboys Will Finish Below 8-8

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There is no NFL team, and dare I say no sports team in general more polarizing than the Dallas Cowboys.

Almost everybody outside of Dallas vilifies and despises the Cowboys, despite the team still having the nickname, “America’s Team.” Over the past three years it’s almost been too commonplace to see Romo and the Cowboys choke in week 17, much to the delight of most Americans everywhere. The good news for football fans outside of Dallas is that I don’t envision the Cowboys’ season getting decided in a pivotal week 17 game. I think their season will be over way before week 17.

The off season has been anything but kind to Big D.

Dallas lost it’s starting inside linebacker and defensive captain Sean Lee to a torn ACL, and starting quarterback Tony Romo’s health is somewhat of a concern after he received off season back surgery. The team lost defensive stalwart DeMarcus Ware, and they just don’t seem like a team that will be contending for anything other than a good draft pick.

Sure, Dez Bryant is still on the team, and he’s an unworldly talent, but one receiver can’t salvage a season for a team. Neither can a talented tight end, or a good run game.

Don’t believe me? Well, Calvin Johnson, who is unanimously recognized as the league’s best receiver has only had one winning season in seven years. Last year the Lions were in a similar position as the Cowboys are this year. They had a dominant receiver, a good running game and a stable quarterback. Despite all of that, the team floundered down the road and missed the playoffs.

The Cowboys have DeMarco Murray, and yes he’s a viable threat when healthy, but the only problem is that he’s seldom healthy. Jason Witten is only getting older, and he’s no longer a top tier tight end. Starting quarterback Tony Romo is back from back surgery, but his health is also in question. A lot of people within the Cowboys’ organization are slightly worried about Romo’s status, mostly because Aikman went through a very similar situation. Aikman has actually cited his back problems as a reason for retirement.

Cowboys’ Owner Jerry Jones actually admitted to almost drafting Johnny Manziel, which further showcases Dallas’ concern with Romo’s injury. The Cowboys do have a good offensive line that will be able to keep Romo up for the most part.

So the offense will still be good, it could even be incredibly good, but it won’t carry the team to any sort of championships.

Defensively, oh boy. It’s a whole mess for Big D.

Last year the Cowboys were dead last in total defense. They routinely got burned, and they haven’t gotten any better. They’ve actually gotten a whole lot worse. As previously mentioned, Sean Lee and DeMarcus Ware are both gone. Jason Hatcher also left town in favor of Washington, so that makes three pivotal starters that aren’t on the team anymore. The team did add Henry Melton to compensate for the loss of Hatcher, but the group still isn’t noteworthy.

The lackluster linebacking group is made up of Jason Durant, underachiever Bruce Carter, Kyle Wilber, and enormous bust Rolando McClain. Not exactly the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. They’re not even close to being on par with the 2013 Cowboys.

With regards to the secondary, it’s ugly. Oh, it’s ugly.

The group was 30th last year, and they were the main cause for some classic Dallas meltdowns, including the losses to Detroit and Green Bay. Remember that Calvin Johnson guy I mentioned earlier? Well, he put up 329 yards on Dallas’ defense. Yes, you read that correctly. Denver scored 51 points on them. The defense got shredded regularly. Bears’ backup quarterback Josh McCown lit up the unit for 348 yards, three touchdowns and a 141.9 quarterback rating. Heck, Eli Manning (yes, the 27 interception version of Eli Manning) had his best game of the year against Dallas when he threw for 450 yards.

The worst part about this group is that they’ve done nothing to improve. While many people thought they might draft safety Calvin Pryor or Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Dallas opted not to address a the secondary.

Plain and simple, the Cowboys have a horrendous defense.

The old adage is that you can never predict the NFC East due to how unpredictable the teams are, but I don’t envision Dallas being anywhere near playoff contention. However, I don’t think Romo is a bad quarterback. His health is now an issue, and his defense is simply not good. It’s just ludicrous to think the Romo to Dez connection can lead this group into the post season.

Granted, I could be entirely incorrect with this prediction. Like I previously said, the NFC East is one of the league’s hardest divisions to predict. However, I think this is the year that things truly implode for Dallas. I think Jason Garrett will get fired at the end of the season, unless he gets fired midseason. This could very well be Romo’s last productive year. Things need to change in Dallas for this team to be successful, and I don’t think the changes will come until next year.

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Tags: Big D Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray Dez Bryant Jason Garrett Megatron NFC NFC East Tony Romo

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