Last season there was constant chatter about the Cowboys playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The season before, in 2009, the Cowboys were coming off a 9-7 record and people weren't quite sure what to make of the team. It probably isn't the best comparison to draw based on how badly the season went last year. But which season was more fun for you as a fan?
And I'm not just talking about the fact that the Cowboys won a playoff game following the 2009 season. I'm talking about that feeling of impending doom every time the Cowboys got off to a bad start in the game last season. For me it isn't always just being angry about the Cowboys losing the game. A lot of times it is partly due to knowing that I am going to have to endure razzing and teasing from an endless stream of people who come out of the woodwork when the Cowboys lose.
But what makes so many of these haters so happy to see the Cowboys lose? A lot of times it is the way the media builds up the Cowboys before the season starts. The media has a tendency to pump up a lot of hype around the team and set unreasonable expectations. And the people who dislike the Cowboys always somehow spin the media comments into a feeling that the actual team has some sort of feeling of entitlement. Those of us who follow the Cowboys closely know that it is almost always the media talking big about the Super Bowl and not the actual members of the team. But the huge expectations built up by the media put a lot of people off.
This year is different. No one really knows what to make of the team right now. It isn't trendy to pick the Cowboys to go deep into the playoffs. The hot picks this year are teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots. But you don't hear anyone talk about the Cowboys making a run deep into the playoffs.
The Cowboys have big questions on the offensive line, the defense, at running back and even at kicker. So why would anyone pick the Cowboys as an odds on favorite right now? They really shouldn't.
What makes a season the most fun for me is when the team exceeds all expectations. I think the Cowboys are primed for that type of year. They are still a very talented team. Sure, there are a lot of questions to be answered. But it isn't like the Cowboys are the Buffalo Bills. There is a lot of talent on the Dallas roster. And all of the big questions about the team aren't insurmountable.
I doubt I'll be expecting the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl. I certainly would love to see it. But I will be thrilled if the Cowboys can find a way to qualify for the playoffs and win a playoff game or two. I'm not saying I won't be devastated if the Cowboys end up losing the NFC championship game. I'm just saying that the regular season will be much more enjoyable without the weight of unreasonable expectations weighing down the enjoyment of the season.