Dallas Cowboys fans have for quite some time been immensely passionate and loyal, but also increasingly frustrated with the franchise's inability to reanimate the glory days that slipped away a decade-and-a-half ago.
The 'Boys have won only a single playoff game since 1997 and haven't made the playoffs since 2009. They're coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons and it didn't appear as though they did much to change that this offseason.
All spring, I've been trying to tell fans to relax. This is a team that suffered a disgusting amount of injuries last season but has most or all of the right pieces in place. They finished 5-3 despite those injuries, falling just short of the postseason, and now they could be on the brink of something rather special.
I elaborated on that in a Bleacher Report article this morning, wherein I declared that Dallas is one of seven teams that could shock the world in 2013.
And it turns out I'm not alone.
Two months after NFL.com's Adam Schein drew heavy criticism for inexplicably calling the Cowboys one of the worst teams in the NFC, Schein's colleague, Gil Brandt, has penned the antithesis of that piece.
Brandt lists 10 reasons why the Cowboys will be better in 2013, and it's hard to argue with any of them. Better defensive coaching and more help for Tony Romo factor in, but the key point is that the odds indicate Dallas will be healthier.
Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News banged the same drum in a Tuesday column telling readers to "look for Cowboys to ride new 4-3 scheme to playoffs." He argues that the Dallas D is an ideal fit for Monte Kiffin and his 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme, and he's right about that.
With DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer setting the edge, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff clogging things up, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter spanning the middle and Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne clamping down on the outside, the Cowboys could have one of the best defenses in football in 2013.
Throw in that Romo's in his prime, Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant are only getting better and Terrance Williams, Gavin Escobar, Travis Frederick and Joseph Randle have all been added to lend support to an already-explosive offense, and it's hard not to be optimistic about this Dallas team.