NFL Preview: 5 Reasons the Dallas Cowboys Won't Make the Playoffs

Todd McElwee@@toddmcelweeCorrespondent IJuly 18, 2012

NFL Preview: 5 Reasons the Dallas Cowboys Won't Make the Playoffs

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    Once again, America won't be watching "America's Team" come playoff time.

    The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL's perennial paper champions. Year after year they begin the season riding high on a wave of expectations, only to find themselves washed up the beach after another underwhelming campaign. 

    This year will be no different. Dallas won't make the postseason for a third consecutive season.

    There are five primary reasons why. 

No. 5: Dez Bryant's Issues

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    Everyone, lets all thank Dez for making us all look better in the eyes of our mothers. 

    Bryant's recent run-in with the law isn't won't go unnoticed  by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  

    Bryant, whose talented and physical specimen might only be eclipsed by his stupidity, will likely be sidelined by Uncle Roger for a few games handicapping the Cowboys' offense for possibly the first month of the season. 

No. 4: Reemergence of the Philadelphia Eagles

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    A year removed from a ballyhooed free-agent spending spree and disastrous campaign, the Philadelphia Eagles are likely to return as a more cohesive and polished unit this September.

    That's terrifying news for Dallas. 

    The problems with the Eagles' resurgence extends well beyond the two losses the Cowboys should suffer at their NFC East rival's hands, as Philly will once again factor in the playoff picture and could stand between Dallas and a postseason berth. 

No. 3: Homesickness

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    America's Team sure doesn't feel welcomed away from Arlington. 

    Dallas was 3-5 on the road in 2011 and, once again, faces some of its toughest challenges away from Cowboys Stadium. 

    For what it's worth, four (New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons) of the Cowboys' road foes made the playoffs last year.

    Combine that with visits to always-thorny Seattle and emerging Carolina, as well as cantankerous trips to Philly and D.C., and Dallas' road prospects are looking bleak. 

No. 2: Jason Garrett's Final Chance

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    There's no arguing that Jerry Jones' wunderkind has been a disappointment. Garrett is the embodiment of the underachieving nature of the franchise. 

    No NFL coach is sitting on a hotter seat that Garrett. When the game, or the season, is on the line, will he be able to something he's rarely done in the past—rise to the occasion? 

    If Dallas gets off to a slow start, don't be surprised to see Garrett jettisoned by the owner who once championed his cause. 

No. 1: Tony Romo's Nightmare Before Christmas

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    The King of November suffered through another dismal December and January last season, finishing 2-3 down the stretch while helping to blow a division lead. He’s now a meager 9-14 in December and January and, like his overvalued franchise, has seen his star has fade in critical circumstances.

    In Week 14, Romo and the Cowboys had the chance to finish off the Giants at home. Losers of four straight, New York was in a tailspin and was tittering on the verge of disaster. 

    Up 34-29 with 2:25 remaining, Romo overthrew a wide-open Miles Austin, who had nothing but field turf in front of him, on third down. Eli Manning then drove for the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing possession.

    To be fair, Dallas did miss a potential tying field goal in losing 37-34.

    Romo choked three weeks later with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line. Sure, he was 29 of 37 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw an interception and lost a fumble while converting just 4-of-12 on third downs. 

    More horrors lie ahead this December. The month begins with a visit from Philadelphia. Tilts against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and New Orleans—all playoff teams in 2011—follow.

    The season will conclude in Washington on Dec. 30, allowing Romo and his teammates ample time to travel to their New Year's Eve destination of choice.