The final roster is finally set. The first game is almost here. And I finally feel confident enough to put my season prediction out there.
Let me start by saying I think the 2012 Dallas Cowboys are a clear improvement over the 2011 version. That doesn't necessarily mean that the record will be significantly better. The problem is the schedule that the Cowboys face. It is going to be tough to repeat 8-8 let alone improve on it.
But there are some factors that lead me to believe this year will be better in terms of record. Let's start with the defense. It is already obvious even just through four preseason games that the pass defense is significantly improved. Sean Lee is primed for a pro bowl year and Demarcus Ware is arguably the best defensive player in football. Throw in Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Barry Church providing an upgrade at safety and you can see a lot to be excited about.
The offensive line is improved over last season. Both starting guards have been replaced. Last year Kyle Kosier was nursing a bad foot ball season long. Tyron Smith came in a started as a rookie. And Phil Costa was a first year starter at center. There have been clear upgrades made by switching Free and Smith, replacing the guards, and at center...well, things are the same. I have to believe that Costa will be improved over last season.
A healthy DeMarco Murray could go a long way to helping the offense score more points to go along with the massive amounts of yards that are usually gained every week. And Dez Bryant looks ready to take the next step to become an elite receiver.
The bottom line is I see a better team across the board. I'm picking the Cowboys to go 10-6 and make the playoffs. At that point it really becomes a matter of health and who is on a hot streak. It isn't out of the realm of possibility to see a deep playoff run but only if the Cowboys can get to the postseason with all of the key players in good health.
So there you have it. 10-6. Let me know what your predictions are in the comments.