They are hosting the big party this year, but will it be a party at all if they don't attend?
It seems like every year around this time, the Cowboys have Super Bowl expectations, but every year they fail to make those expectations a reality.
That being said, this year is different.
The Cowboys finally won a playoff game—their first in over a decade—last season. After going 11-5 and winning the NFC East, the 'Boys were able to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 34-14, giving them their first playoff victory since 1996. Unfortunately, they followed one of their best performances of the season with their worst, as they lost to the Minnesota Vikings 34-3 in the divisional round.
Dallas is set to host the Super Bowl this season. If the Cowboys are able to reach the Super Bowl, they will be the first team to ever play in the big game at home. After a year of showing off the stadium at Cowboys home games, most of the world—or the United States at least—has witnessed what a $1.3 billion stadium looks like.
Now, Cowboys Stadium will have the opportunity to be used what it was made for. The stadium can hold more than 100,000 people, and for the biggest sporting event of the year there is no better place to hold the game.
Most importantly, the Cowboys have the talent to contend for the NFC crown. The Cowboys should be returning 20 of their starters from last season (losing only Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin), including all eight of their Pro Bowlers.
Tony Romo is coming off the best season of his career statistically. He threw 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. His 4,483 passing yards were third-best in the league, while his 97.6 passer rating was the ninth in the NFL. To cap it all off, Romo made his third Pro Bowl appearance last season.
Romo received what should be a very productive new target following the drafting of Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant. Bryant will likely be Romo's third target, behind Miles Austin and Roy Williams, making the Cowboys receiving corps one of the most dangerous in the league.
As long as they can stay healthy, the Cowboys should be as dangerous on the ground as they are through the air. Felix Jones' speed has made him one of the best big-play backs in the league. Additionally, Marion Barber's ability to punish teams late in games makes it nearly impossible for opponents to completely shut down the Cowboys ground game.
Third-string back Tashard Choice is good enough to start for some teams and will be an integral part of the Cowboys offense.
Dallas basically returns the same defense that ranked second in the league in points allowed last season. The only player not returning as a starter, Ken Hamlin, will be replaced by Alan Ball, who started three games and played in all 16 last season.
Every great team does have its weaknesses, and the Cowboys are no exception. If they want to be able to reach the Super Bowl, they will have to perform exceptionally in some key areas. After losing Flozell Adams, the offensive line must perform as well, if not better, than it did last season.
The Cowboys had the worst yards-to-points ratio in the league, and must finish their drives in order to succeed. Other question marks include how Roy Williams will perform, if the running backs will be able to stay healthy, and if the Cowboys defensive backs can avoid giving up the deep ball.
While the expectation is the same as years past, the possible reality of it coming true is more likely than it has been in a while.
For the sake of Cowboys fans everywhere, let's hope this is the year the team lives up to what is expected.
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