The Dallas Cowboys took a major step out of mediocrity last season. After three straight years with a season-ending record of 8-8, and no playoff appearances, the Cowboys finished 2014 at 12-4, while being undefeated on the road and securing their first postseason victory since 2009. Along the way, they were also crowned NFC East champions. But can the Cowboys post a repeat performance in 2015?
According to four NFC East experts, the answer is a resounding yes. In an article that appeared on ESPN’s Dallas site last week, one beat writer from each of the four NFC East teams chimed in on the same question: Who will win the NFC East? Their answers should have Cowboys fans excited for the upcoming season.
Todd Archer (Dallas Cowboys):
"“The NFC East has not seen a repeat division winner since the Eagles in 2003 and ’04 under Andy Reid, so maybe conventional wisdom should tell me otherwise. Maybe the departure of DeMarco Murray should tell me that too. Oh well. I’m going with the Cowboys…”"
Dan Graziano (New York Giants):
"“The Dallas Cowboys should end the division’s long streak without a repeat winner this year.”"
Phil Sheridan, (Philadelphia Eagles):
"“Until I see some tangible proof otherwise, I’m going with the team that proved itself the best last year. Yes, Dallas lost DeMarco Murray, but with Tony Romo playing behind that offensive line, the Cowboys should be very tough on offense.”"
John Keim (Washington Redskins):
"“…my real concern with the Eagles is quarterback Sam Bradford and his inability to stay healthy. Therefore, I’ll opt for Dallas to become a repeat winner.”"
You can read their full answers here.
Although the Cowboys’ rivals will often point to the loss of running back DeMarco Murray and the overall improvement of all the teams in the NFC East as reasons why Dallas may not retain the divisional crown, there are simply too many unanswered questions to know for sure. Hence, all these experts choosing the Cowboys as repeat winners.
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The fact Murray is now in Philadelphia doesn’t outweigh the fact that the team has a new, injury-prone quarterback in Sam Bradford. As it’s his first season in Philly, no one really knows if the Birds will take a step forward or backwards this season. And although Murray led the NFL in rushing yards last year, the Eagles did have All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy last season, whom most considered to be a superior runner to DeMarco prior to 2014.
Washington still has too many questions on offense, especially under center, to think they’ll be serious contenders in 2015. The Giants could be the surprise team coming out of the NFC East with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz combining to make of the most exciting duos in the league. And you can never count out a team led by head coach Tom Coughlin.
But, for me, those four NFC East experts have this one guessed right. I don’t expect the Cowboys to miss Murray as much as everyone seems to be predicting. In fact, they could be even better as DeMarco struggled at times last year, especially when it came to holding on to the ball. Murray fumbled five times in the regular season and once in the playoffs. And his replacement, running back Joseph Randle, has always stepped up on-the-field when given an opportunity. If Randle can keep things together off-the-field, I fully expect him to help lead the Cowboys to another NFC East crown in 2015.