Dallas Cowboys season preview: New faces but with same choking hazards

Before the Eagles set off on what is sure to be a 100-year dynasty of NFC East championships, we’ll take a look at each of their divisional rivals and what they’ve got that could potentially derail the Birds' seemingly surefire destiny.

We’ll start with the Dallas Cowboys, a team whose fan base boasts Lebron James, Clayton Kershaw and your least favorite Facebook friend from high school.

Dallas Cowboys

What happened last season
Let’s just skip to the part where the Cowboys choked in the playoffs again. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott gave the Cowboys' offense a new look but an old feel, as Jerry Jones’ squad went 13-3 in the regular season (good enough for best record in the NFC) and then were beaten at home by a massively-depleted Green Bay squad … which was just fantastic, ‘cause Chris Christie’s autumn had been jolly enough.

Forbes lists the Cowboys as one of the most profitable franchises in all of sports, and they must be doing it by charging for non-refundable deposits on NFC Championship tickets. Hey-oh! Even Alex Ovechkin looks at their postseason record and starts to giggle. The characters change, but the story arc remains the same … like an episode of Scooby-Doo, but the laugh track is more realistic.

What about the offseason?
Tony Romo retired. Two-fifths of the offensive line was replaced. And the entire secondary had to be rebuilt, including (drumroll please) former cause-of-my-raised-blood-pressure Nolan Carroll! Because he’s done so well against Odell Beckham Jr. in the past, the Cowboys just couldn’t pass him up. Jones signing Carroll is like Dr. Alan Grant getting off Isla Nubar, then immediately hiring the electric-fence people to do his home security.

But the biggest story is the six-game suspension of Elliott for domestic abuse. You can read all the details of this horrible situation here. Worth noting is that while Elliott was being investigated for domestic abuse he was caught on camera sexually assaulting a woman. That’s like Donald Trump having a secret meeting with Vladimir Putin while being investigated for having secret meetings with Putin, or Anthony Weiner sending lewd photos on Twitter after leaving office in disgrace for sending lewd photos on Twitter. Really, Elliot should just retire and run for sheriff of Texas now.  

Jones, meanwhile, is defending Elliott, because of course he is. Remember two years ago when he was the only owner in football willing to pay Greg Hardy? Jones would sell his grandkids to the Dothraki if it gave the Cowboys a better chance of winning a Lombardi. Somehow, someway, he continues to give Texas oil men a bad name.

What’ll happen this season (best-case scenario)
Elliott comes back from his (potentially shortened) suspension and picks up right where he left off. The offensive line, despite two new additions, continues its freakish streak of good health. Prescott takes a step forward in his sophomore year and makes all Philly residents hate that we gave up picks for Carson Wentz. Jason Witten starts taking that Maria Sharapova drug to reverse aging. The defense overachieves again. And the Cowboys become the first NFC East team since the 2004 Iggles to win the division in back-to-back years. 

What’ll happen this season (worst-case scenario)
The suspension throws off Zeke’s entire season. The O-line, with two new dudes, becomes a problem (either due to ineffectiveness or injury or La’el Collins' inability to stop holding people). Prescott, who was an unhyped fourth-round pick just a year ago, can’t replicate his rookie season without a killer offensive line and top-shelf rushing attack, while Witten follows his buddy Romo into the sunset. Meanwhile, Christie gets kicked out of Drumthwacket and has to move in with Jones in what becomes FOX’s worst reality show ever (coming this fall!).

It seems more likely than not the Cowboys are in line for a step back this season. Sure, it doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to picture them in the postseason again this year … but imagining them winning a playoff game requires a tremendous amount of high-grade acid.