DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) — We’re approaching the start of the 2014 NFL season, and every team is on equal ground.
Will Dallas finish 8-8 for a 4th consecutive season? Our experts at 105.3 The Fan make their predictions for the 2014 Cowboys.
1. True or False: Tony Romo will play in at least 12 games this season.
RJ Choppy: False. He will play in 10.
Cory Mageors: False. Tony actually looks like he’s in the best physical shape he’s ever been in. No gut, no thick neck. However, his activity on the field will not allow him to sit idle in the pocket. Plus, my concern is stamina. I don’t think he can hold up all year.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: I’m going to be as positive as possible, because I think we could all use some positive vibes in our sports life after the Rangers provided us with the summer from hell. I’ll say he plays all 16. It’s hard to imagine that back not flaring up at some point, but he’s definitely not pulling himself out of any games.
Jeff Cavanaugh: True. If you can’t believe before the season starts, when can you believe?
Chris Arnold: True. He’s a smart guy. He knows he no longer can extend plays. He has no choice but to play within himself & hand the ball off to Murray on ‘bad back” days.
Gavin Dawson: False. If toughness is the deciding factor in how many games Tony plays this year, he’ll be in all 16. I’ve never covered an athlete willing to put himself through more to stay on the field. The problem is going to be the team will be so far out of the playoff picture by week 10 that the smart thing to do will be to shut him down and stay healthy for 2015.
Kevin Hageland: False.
2. Dez Bryant recorded 1,233 receiving yards and 13 TDs last season. Will he be even BETTER in 2014?
RJ Choppy: No, but only because Romo will get hurt.
Cory Mageors: He will get more open looks in Scott Linehan’s offense. They like to get the big target in soft spots of the D and expose them for big yards. Then push the run and dump until another soft spot opens up. More open looks should equal bigger payday. But this offense has lots of weapons. I still say yes.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: The Dez numbers will continue to improve. We can say what we want about the offense and the options, but is Terrance Williams a solidified #2 WR in this league? Not yet. Dez has become Tony’s right hand man, and kind of taken over the role that Witten used to have. When Tony’s in trouble, he’s throwing to Dez. As he should. As Dez told Tony last year during the Philadelphia road game, “throw it up, and it’ll be six. That’s all I’m saying.”
Jeff Cavanaugh: Tough question because he can’t throw to himself. I think the offense will incorporate more weapons in the game, but still shouldn’t stop Dez from putting up comparable stats to last year.
Chris Arnold: Yes. He’s on a mission. Barring his own injuries, he should be an even greater weapon in the slot.
Gavin Dawson: Yes, it’s a perfect storm for Dez to dominate this year. Miles is gone. Jason is older. The other guys aren’t ready to assume a big role. Bryant has hit the window in his career where the mental and physical parts of the game are working in harmony.
Kevin Hageland: BETTER!!
3. Over/Under on DeMarco Murray rush yards: 1,200.
RJ Choppy: Over. He’s going to stay healthy, and because of no Romo, he’ll get more work.
Cory Mageors: Over. Plus his receiving yards are gonna be up too.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: I’m taking the over here because of two reasons. First, the offensive line should be improved and one of the best in the league. Also, you’ll see a game plan featuring more runs, not because that’s what they should do, but because there’s pressure from the fans and media to run the ball more. DeMarco Murray is hitting his contract year at the right time.
Jeff Cavanaugh: Over. If Romo’s back isn’t reason enough to run the ball more, we’ll never see them run the ball more.
Chris Arnold: Under. I don’t trust his injury history. The Cowboys may run the ball more, but it’ll be by committee.
Gavin Dawson: Under. Even Demarco told The Fan during training camp, this team continues to talk like it’s going to run but he’s heard that before. And more touches for Dunbar?
Kevin Hageland: Over. He’ll be top-5 rusher in the league.
4. Dallas was 32nd in total defense last season (yards allowed). Will they repeat in 2014?
RJ Choppy: No. Since they will run the ball more, that’s less time for the other offense to be on the field. Plus, its damn near impossible to be 32 two years in a row.
Cory Mageors: No. I hope.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: Yes. The starters are worse than other team’s starters. The back-ups are worse than other team’s back-ups. Sure, there’s injuries in play here too, but this is going to be the worst defense in the NFL for the 2nd straight year.
Jeff Cavanaugh: No. Because it’s hard to be that terrible again right? Call it 30th. They’re treading water until Scandrick and Demarcus Lawrence get back, then maybe they can just be below average.
Chris Arnold: No. Even when they were 1-15 in 1989 with Jimmy Johnson, they did not wind up last in defense. They will churn the defensive roster, as Jimmy did, in search of productivity. Last year they only did that at the end of the season because of injuries. This year it’s a mandate.
Gavin Dawson: Absolutely. Last year’s team at least started somewhat healthy. The potential for them to be embarrassed in 2015 is limitless.
Kevin Hageland: Repeat – perhaps even giving up more yards.
5. Is it time to give up on Mo Claiborne or will he bounce back?
RJ Choppy: Give it up if the current defense is going to be in place for years to come. He’s a waste of space as a zone corner.
Cory Mageors: Weak knee. Constant nagging injuries. No on field proof of confidence. I see nothing that says he’ll bounce back.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: It’s not time to give up on him, because who are you going to replace him with? Sterling Moore or Tyler Patmon? I can’t say that he’ll bounce back, but he’s definitely a better option than Moore or Patmon or any other cornerback retread they’ll run in here throughout the season. The truth is, if Mo Claiborne is your 3rd best corner back on the depth chart, then you’ve got a pretty good situation at that position.
Jeff Cavanaugh: Give up. I see him and Sean Lee the same way. If they’re available to play each week, great. I can’t build a roster assuming they’ll be there though, too fragile.
Chris Arnold: Give up is the wrong word. He stays here. But he’s the 2014 Miles Austin. Anything he does should be considered a bonus, not someone who anchors your secondary.
Gavin Dawson: It’s too soon to cut him because miracles do happen with things like this. But chances are the Cowboys have one of those players that is either too injury prone or doesn’t know how to play through pain. There isn’t a good track record of those kinds of players making a comeback here.
Kevin Hageland: Give up, bust!
6. Who will be the team’s defensive MVP?
RJ Choppy: DeMarco Murray. He will keep the defense off the field enough to make an impact on their season. In reality, I’m only saying that because I don’t know who the hell on the defense you could even predict would be their best player
Cory Mageors: Rolando McClain. He’s got the attention of the room.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: Yikes. I think I’ll go with Barry Church. If he can stay healthy, I think he’ll help out a ton down in the box. This team will get gashed by the run a few times this year, so hopefully bringing him down and playing Wilcox at single-high safety will help the Cowboys defend the run.
Jeff Cavanaugh: Barry Church. One of the few defensive players on the team I don’t have questions about. He’s a player.
Chris Arnold: It could be Henry Melton replacing Jason Hatcher’s double digit sacks. He’s got incentives in his contract. Hatcher was playing for a new contract. Boom.
Gavin Dawson: Justin Durant
Kevin Hageland: Brandon Carr
7. Which rookie will have the biggest impact?
RJ Choppy: Zack Martin. He’s OL and he’s pretty dang good. No reason to think he won’t have the best year of the group.
Cory Mageors: Zack Martin easy. Would have been Demarcus Lawrence, but the injury hampers his development this season.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: This is Zack Martin, by default. I’d love to go with DeMarcus Lawrence, but we probably won’t see him until November. Martin is a great player, and will be a really strong offensive lineman for years to come. I think Devin Street will contribute a little bit, but Martin is the man playing every down and helping with the continuity of one of the best lines in the entire league.
Jeff Cavanaugh: Zack Martin. Lawrence is hurt, Street is fighting with Williams/Beasley/Harris/Escobar for touches behind Witten/Dez/Demarco/Dunbar. Good luck with that.
Chris Arnold: None of them. The one with the stats will be Street. He could be Romo’s new Laurent Robinson. He runs excellent routes.
Gavin Dawson: Michael Sam will impact jersey sales. It’s been a while since the Cowboys have had a player in the top five.
Kevin Hageland: Zack Martin
8. A Bold Cowboys Prediction
RJ Choppy: Jason Garrett will miss the playoffs and still not get fired.
Cory Mageors: Gavin Escobar has second most TD catches for the team.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: They start 3-0. I can’t give a season long prediction until the next question. I think the 49ers preseason struggles have been well documented, and the Cowboys can really play with a lot of teams in this league. They’re catching SF at the right time, and should be able to beat Tennessee and St. Louis.
Jeff Cavanaugh: Agree with Choppy. Jerry talking the last few weeks is laying the groundwork for the Cowboys to be potentially bad and Garrett still keep his job.
Chris Arnold: Dez signs a $100 million contract with $35 million guaranteed.
Gavin Dawson: The Cowboys and an opponent will challenge the record for most combined points scored in a half (70 — Houston (35) vs. Oakland (35), Dec. 22, 1963).
Kevin Hageland: The offense will become more productive after Romo gets injured, as the team will finally be forced to focus on running the ball.
9. How will the Cowboys finish?
RJ Choppy: 8-8. No playoffs. NFC East Winner: Giants. Somehow, that freaking team continues to win the division every 3 years.
Cory Mageors: 10-6 and will win the Wild Card. Philadelphia wins the East.
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: 7-9. No playoffs. Sorry. I think the Eagles win the division, and I don’t really think it’ll be close. The Eagles don’t play a ton of defense, but that system Chip Kelly is running up there will be hard to beat. I’ve got them going 10-6, while Dallas, Washington, and the Giants hover around 6 or 7 wins.
Jeff Cavanaugh: 8-8. No playoffs. I’d be happier if it was a couple games in either direction, but that’s my gut feeling. I think the Redskins and Giants are going to be bad and the Cowboys win 3 or 4 of those 4 games.
Chris Arnold: 6-10. slow start, but they click to win last 4 in a row in dominant fashion. Garrett returns.
Gavin Dawson: 5-11. Eagles win NFC East at 10-6.
Kevin Hageland: 6-10. Eagles win the NFC East.
10. Super Bowl Picks/Winner:
RJ Choppy: Denver vs Seattle. Seattle wins again
Cory Mageors: Seattle-Patriots Seattle wins
Kevin ‘KT’ Turner: I’m going to stray away from the popular Seattle/Denver pick and go with New Orleans and Denver.
Here’s my predicted playoff seedings.
2. New Orleans
2. New England
3. Green Bay
5. San Francisco
5. San Diego
Jeff Cavanaugh: Denver vs New Orleans. Denver wins.
Chris Arnold: 49ers v New England. Niners win it all.
Gavin Dawson: Colts over Seahawks
Kevin Hageland: Seattle Seahawks defeat Indianapolis Colts
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