As we pointed out earlier in the week, ESPN analyst and former coach Herm Edwards decided the Dallas Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC. And if the Cowboys somehow make it to Super Bowl XLV, they will become the first team to play the game in their home stadium.
Dallas Morning News columnist and "Around the Horn" stalwart Tim Cowlishaw thinks the Cowboys have a 30 percent chance of making that happen, in part, because he believes in the Mirage sportsbook. They have the Cowboys at 7-1 to win Super Bowl XLV.
"Many pieces seem to be in place for Dallas," writes Cowlishaw. "The uncapped 2010 season helps in some ways. The Cowboys, as a team that made it to the conference semifinals, are limited in free agents they can pursue. But the pickings are slim, anyway.
"The rule that turned so many unrestricted free agents into restricted players keeps wide receiver Miles Austin in that group. The Cowboys nearly lost him to the Jets a year ago. They aren't letting anyone grab their go-to wide receiver this offseason. The lack of real movement around the conference should help the Cowboys. Teams will undergo less change this offseason than any time since the arrival of real free agency more than 15 years ago. Only the draft will produce major alterations, and the Cowboys' competition won't be picking that much higher than they are."
Well, I guess that depends on who you consider to be the Cowboys' competition. We know from recent history at least six new teams will likely make the playoffs in 2010. With Mike Shanahan taking over the Redskins, don't those two matchups seem a little more worrisome for the Cowboys? The Skins will pick fourth overall and the Giants will pick at No. 15. Both clubs should land an impact player at those spots.
The Cowboys could improve as a team in 2010 -- and end up with a worse record than last season. Maybe I'm showing Tom Coughlin and Shanahan too much respect, but let's recall the Cowboys were swept by a Giants team that wound up finishing 8-8. And Dallas was outplayed by the Redkins at Cowboys Stadium before winning the game in the fourth quarter.
I'm not ready to make any predictions for 2010, but at this point, saying the Cowboys have a 30 percent chance to make the Super Bowl seems a bit too optimistic. Where do you guys stand?