The general consensus around the football watching world these days is that the Cowboys are going to be pretty darned good. Vegas likes them, Double J thinks they've got loads of talent and plenty of prognosticators are picking them to play the Super Bowl at home.
Not everyone is so bullish, however. The guys at Football Outsiders project the 'Boys to win 7.5 games this season, a number that would leave them well short of the expectations in place for this season. A projection like that naturally leads to some questions.
How in the hell do you win a half-game in the NFL, pinheads?
We kid, we kid. But it is interesting to hear Football Outsiders managing editor Bill Barnwell explain why their system doesn't like the 2010 Cowboys. Part of it has to do with expected improvement in Washington and New York and part of it has to do with the aging offensive line, a concern that plays into the biggest reason for doubt about Dallas.
"They're unlikely to be this healthy from year to year. This is something we brought up in 2008 that ended up being pretty key to Dallas's system. ... The Cowboys are a top-heavy team, and avoiding injuries to their stars is a dance they have to do each year."
Barnwell does also say that he thinks the outlook for the Cowboys is a bit gloomier than it should be, but that point about staying healthy should give the heartiest optimists a little pause. There's nothing to panic about, obviously, but a look at the lengthy list of injured players going into Thursday night's game with the Raiders gives rise to some dark thoughts.
Not only do the Cowboys have an extra preseason game, an added risk of injury, but they have a slew of injuries that will force some players to stay on the field longer than they would if everyone's healthy. That's a greater injury risk for players you actually envision being part of your team this season. And, at some positions, extended reps will likely mean higher attrition rates as the aches and pains mount up over the course of the season.
You can't do anything about the freak injuries, but you'd like to have your key guys as fresh as possible when things start counting.
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