Will the Dallas Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl?  This is the question facing hopeful Cowboys fans each season.  However, fans have even more optimism in 2018.

Coming off of a 9-7 season and barely missing the playoffs, the Cowboys have a lot to improve upon going into this year. Along with that, they also have high expectations to put up a good record and contend in the playoffs with the stars they have available, so the pressure is on for them to perform.

Because of this, I think they’re going to have a better season than last year, but there still are going to be some hiccups, which are listed below.

Travis Frederick

Frederick, the All-Pro center holding the line together, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome earlier in the offseason. Essentially, it’s an autoimmune disorder that attacks the bodies’ own nerves. This rare disease doesn’t have an exact timetable for recovery, so it’s very possible that Frederick doesn’t play a game this season, or the rest of his career. That being said, the Cowboys have chosen to not place him on IR, so that means they must think there is a sliver of hope that he returns.

The center is arguably the most important place on the offensive line, and so with one of the best centers in the league sidelined, it seems nearly impossible that the pass and run blocking won’t suffer.

With an unproven receiver corps, the Cowboys are going to need to rely on their proven running game, but with a key part missing, it may be difficult to dominate with a ground and pound offense like they have in the past.

With the Cowboy’s offensive line, they’ve always had their big three in Frederick, Zach Martin, and Tyron Smith. In the few cases where one has been hurt (the Chaz Green debacle), the offensive line’s effectiveness has suffered greatly. So, in order for the Cowboys to have any success, Joe Looney is going to need to step up and play at a high level to try and fill Frederick’s spot in the line to continue their running game dominance.

Brett Maher

In a stunning offseason move, the Cowboys cut Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kickers in the game, just behind the Ravens’ Justin Tucker.

While his accuracy has declined somewhat over the last three seasons, it’s still a questionable decision to cut a great kicker like Bailey and replace him with a player from the CFL with little experience under pressure.

The move saved around two million dollars, but what I argue is when the game is on the line with a 50+ yard field goal, can you trust Maher to make that kick? Dan bailed the Cowboys out numerous times and clearly has that clutch gene, but Maher is basically untested.

Does Maher have the “clutch gene” to thrive when the game is on the line?

The question to ask here is was that two million saved worth losing that high quality of a kicker? Maher is a decent kicker and has a pretty high percent made, but then again so did Roberto Aguayo for Tampa Bay and look how that turned out.

Even though the kicker is only on the field for a short time each game, those moments may be the most pivotal ones of the game and it remains to be seen if Maher can perform in those moments.

Unproven Receivers

With the loss of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have no clear number 1 receiver. They really don’t even have a number 2 receiver, just a bunch of receivers all currently on the same playing level. Between Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams, and Deonte Thompson, someone needs to step up into that number one spot.

It’s important that the Cowboys can stretch the field with a quality receiver drawing in the safety(s) so that the run game can be more efficient, without the defense being able to stack the box. So, the X-factor is if one or multiple of the receivers can perform well, the offense will be productive. If it goes the other way and no receiver really does much on the offensive end, it could be a rough season.

Season Predictions

So, after going through some potential problems the Cowboys could have, I’m going to project the Cowboys having a 10-6 record.

I believe that Dak is going to have a career year, recovering from his “Sophomore Slump” last year, and start making some longer throws. I feel like Hurns could step up and be a good target for him, and with Zeke putting up top numbers, this could be a really great season.

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