The Dallas Cowboys won't make the playoffs in 2015, at least according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.
In Pelissero's bold predictions, one sticks out more than others, and that's the Dallas Cowboys missing the playoffs. The loss of DeMarco Murray is the major factor for this declaration, and losing the NFL's leading rusher from a season ago is a valid point.
The other big concern is the personalities on the Cowboys roster. With players like Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory, Pelissero makes another strong point as we have seen locker room nonsense affect play on the field. It is kind of reminiscent of when the Cowboys had Terrell Owens and the media couldn't seem to get enough of the drama inside the Cowboys locker room. At least from the Cowboys point of view, they have players that have gotten in trouble off the field, but they don't have players begging for the cameras like Owens.
The Cowboys brought in Darren McFadden and Christine Michael for this season, and combining them with Joseph Randle gives the Cowboys a solid backfield. Obviously, it doesn't seem as strong without Murray, but the Cowboys offensive line can open up holes for almost any running back.
The reality is the Cowboys are the NFC East favorites going into the season, and that's partly because of last season's performance, but also because of returning players. The Cowboys have three Pro Bowl linemen returning in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. While Murray is a very talented running back, there is no question that being behind one of the strongest offensive lines in the game helped his numbers.
The Cowboys can go far, but only if Tony Romo doesn't make and major mistakes. Romo is a statistical dream at quarterback, but in big moments, he finds ways to make simple errors or throw into double coverage. Romo has thrown 124 touchdowns to 48 interceptions in the past four seasons, which are remarkable numbers. The flip side to that is that he only made the playoffs once in those four seasons. Prior to last season, Romo and the Cowboys hadn't made the playoffs since 2009, but Romo has a really strong team behind him this season and is likely to get it done.
Behind a great offensive line and two top-tier targets in Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, it would be almost shocking if the Cowboys missed the playoffs. The biggest challenge for the Cowboys will be Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have Murray, the former Cowboy, as well as a deep backfield with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Then there is always the New York Giants, who seem not to pose a threat in the NFC East, but are a team no one can never sleep on.
The Cowboys open up at home against NFC East rival the New York Giants. They follow that game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. While it seems unlikely for the Cowboys to miss out on the playoffs, it is possible, and division games like their first two will have a major impact on the outcome of their season.