The Dallas Cowboys ended 2011 on a two-game losing streak resulting in a missed playoff appearance for the second consecutive season.
It is evident when looking at the Cowboys' roster that they are an incredibly talented football team, but that also seemed to be the consensus prior to the 2010 season in which Dallas was one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, only to finish the season with a 6-10 record.
With frustration building in Dallas and the enigma that is the NFC East, it is hard to foresee what the 2012 season will bring for the Cowboys, but we have an idea or two.
Here are five bold predictions for the upcoming season.
1. Cowboys Will Have the No. 1 Passing Defense in the NFL
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Cowboys made some huge moves via free agency and the draft to grab two top-tier cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.
Claiborne will be an instant impact and has the tools to become an all-pro defensive back, while Carr was one of the top cornerbacks in this year's free agency class.
There is still much uncertainty surrounding current cornerback Mike Jenkins, whom owner Jerry Jones somehow hopes to keep on the roster, but Cowboys fans should not fret much since the team has already added such talented defensive backs.
Dallas is now in a position to become the premiere shutdown passing defense of the NFL.
2. DeMarco Murray Rushes for over 1,200 Yards
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
After starting running back Felix Jones suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season, backup DeMarco Murray exploded out of obscurity in 2011 in a game against the St. Louis Rams when he ran for 253 yards on 25 carries, shattering the Cowboys' rookie rushing record along the way.
Murray continued his momentum and compiled over 1,000 all-purpose yards in his rookie season.
Unfortunately, Murray suffered a fractured right ankle at the end of last season, and it remains uncertain whether he'll even be the Cowboys' starting running back at the start of the year.
Murray has expressed his confidence in a smooth return for this coming year and plans to be ready to go.
Should he be healthy and able to start, Murray will be one of the top backs in the NFC this season and will compile over 1,500 all-purpose yards.
3. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant Become Best QB-Receiver Duo in NFC East
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Dez Bryant was solid last season, but he still did not appear to reach his full potential. He was unable to top either 100 yards in a single game or 1,000 yards on the season, finishing with 928 yards and nine touchdowns.
While those numbers are undoubtedly productive, expect them to increase big-time in 2012.
For one, 63 receptions just isn't enough for such a skilled receiving weapon like Bryant, and Romo has to be aware that the duo has plenty of room to improve in this coming season.
Romo has plenty of receiving options to spread the ball to, but look for the veteran QB to focus his attention on hitting Bryant as his No.1 option, resulting in a breakout season for the tandem.
4. Dallas Begins the Season with a 6-0 Record
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Cowboys have an opportunity to win several consecutive games at the beginning of the season, and that's exactly what they should do with such a favorable schedule through their first eight games.
Dallas plays just one team that had a winning record in 2011 through its first six games, and that team just happens to be the division rival New York Giants.
The Cowboys will be anxious to avenge their loss against New York last season, which eventually resulted in Dallas missing the postseason.
Dallas will be the talk of the NFL, as the Cowboys and the Packers will be the only two undefeated teams remaining through Week 7.
5. Dallas Wins NFC East
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Dallas will start the season 6-0, but it will by no means stroll into the playoffs.
Division play will test the Cowboys to the best of their abilities. Philadelphia will prove to be the Boys' kryptonite by defeating Dallas in each of their matchups in the regular season, but Dallas' success against the Redskins and Giants will make up for their inability to beat the Eagles.
Ultimately, Dallas will outlast the Eagles by posting the best record atop the NFC East.
The Cowboys will finish 11-5, with Philadelphia following right behind at 10-6.