AP Photo/LM Otero

AP Photo/LM Otero

Welcome Total Sports Blog’s NFL Training Camp Previews. For the next 3 weeks, we will continue to preview each team, and predict their records. The chances that we predict any of these records to be right drastically increases when Earl is writing the preview.

Today’s Team: Dallas Cowboys (NFC East)

2013 Record: 8-8 missed playoffs
Passing Leader: Tony Romo 3828 YDS 31 TD 10 INT
Rushing Leader(s):  DeMarco Murray 1121 YDS 9 TD
Receiving leader: Dez Bryant 93 REC 1233 YDS 13 TD
Leading Tackler: Barry Church 35 Tackles
Sacks Leader: Jason Hatcher 11 Sacks
Int Leader: Sean Lee 4 INT
Key FA Losses/Cut/Released: DE Jason Hatcher , DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware, WR Miles Austin, OL Phil Costa, S Danny McCray, DT Corvey Irvin
Key FA signings: **Crickets**, QB Brandon Weeden, DT Terrell McClain, DE Jeremy Mincey. DT Henry Melton

Draft Picks:

Round Pick # Overall Name Position College
1 16 16 Zack Martin Offensive Tackle Notre Dame
2 2 34 Demarcus Lawrence Defensive End Boise State
4 19 119 Anthony Hitchens Linebacker Iowa
5 6 146 Devin Street Wide Receiver Pittsburgh
7 16 231 Ben Gardner Defensive End Stanford
7 23 238 Will Smith Linebacker Texas Tech
7 33 248 Ahmad Dixon Safety Baylor
7 36 251 Ken Bishop Defensive Tackle Northern Illinois
7 39 255 Terrance Mitchell Cornerback Oregon

For the third straight year, the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to make the playoffs on the final day of the season. For the third straight year, they lost the final game of the season to miss the playoffs with an 8-8 record.  Can they pull it off for the fourth time in a row?  Many people in Las Vegas sure seem to think there’s a chance.  You can check out all the latest sports betting info to make some wagers on that.

Heading into the 2014 season, the Dallas Cowboys will have even more question marks on defense than they ended with last season. Due to being put into salary cap hell by Jerry Jones, Dallas was forced to part ways with future Hall of Fame DE DeMarcus Ware and team leader in sacks Jason Hatcher. But to make things even worse, star middle linebacker Sean Lee was lost for the season to a knee injury suffered during mini camp.

Quarterback Tony Romo is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, but will also be coming off back surgery. All signs point to Romo being healthy as he is slated to play in Dallas’s second preseason game, which is key for this potential offensive juggernaut. Dallas has finally found a stud RB in first time Pro-Bowler DeMarco Murray, and Pro Bowl WR Dez Bryant is playing for a new contract. With WR Miles Austin being another salary cap cut, among many reasons, the shifty and sure handed Cole Beasley will become one of Romo’s new toys on third down to go along with TE Jason Witten.

With the Cowboys first pick in this year’s draft, Jerry Jones made a very strange pick. It’s not that OT Zack Martin isn’t a good player, but it’s the fact that Jones made a “safe” and “smart” pick. The apple of his eye, Johnny Football, was right there for the pick. But Jerry actually showed restraint and took another potential stud offensive lineman. Dallas has gone from arguably the worst offensive line in football, to arguably the best, in just three years. Could you imagine how unstoppable this offense would be if Jason Garrett knew that?

Unless cornerbacks, former first round pick Morris Claiborne, and high-priced free agent Brandon Carr, start playing up to their abilities, wide receivers will continue to put up “Madden” type numbers against this defense.

This front seven is going to be an unmitigated disaster in 2014. No defense, let alone the worst one in the NFL, can handle losing their three best defensive players. Ware, Hatcher, and Lee have been the biggest playmakers on that defense, and now they are gone. Two via Free Agency/Release, and the other from injury. The player I am most interested in seeing is George Selvie. He was essentially picked up off the street, and with all the injuries last year, pushed himself into the starting lineup, and was second on the team in sacks with seven.

Dallas’s young and inexperienced defense, along with their high-powered offense, will more than likely give you much of the same as last year. Shootouts, close games, and heartbreak. Oh, and don’t forget the weekly simple math meltdown by head coach Jason Garret. The fact that Garrett actually graduated from an Ivy League school should be investigated.

Prediction: 8-8