The NFC East is supposed to be super tight once again this year. Bovada in Las Vegas predicts that all four teams in the division will win between seven and nine games. With that considered, you can make perfectly acceptable arguments for the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins to finish first or last in a division that has come down to the wire in Week 17 each of the last four years.
Here are the arguments for why the Cowboys will drop to fourth place this year...
ON THE OTHER HAND: WHY THE COWBOYS WILL WIN THE NFC EAST IN 2013
The defensive transition won't succeed overnight
They've dumped the blitz-happy Rob Ryan in favor of Monte Kiffin and his 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme, but it often takes time for veteran defenses to make transitions. DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will require time to adjust to playing with their hands in the dirt, and cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will both be learning their third system in as many years.
They couldn't do much to improve in the offseason
While the Eagles and Giants spent serious cash (especially Philly), Dallas was forced to sit on its hands and watch. The cap-strapped Cowboys eventually found the money to replace Dan Connor with Justin Durant at linebacker while re-signing most of their key free agents. Gerald Sensabaugh is also gone and Doug Free is still slated to start at right tackle despite struggling terribly the last two seasons. They reached for center Travis Frederick in the first round of the draft and may not have added a single first-year starter beyond that.
There's no evidence they can stay healthy
Injuries are partly about luck, but they're becoming a pattern among guys like Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray. If they once again can't stay on the field this season, the Cowboys will be in a lot of trouble, especially with 2012 fourth-place finisher Philadelphia getting a whole lot better.
It's hard to trust this guy. We still don't even know whether he'll be calling plays, which is sort of silly in and of itself. He's never been a particularly good game manager or decision-maker, at least in comparison to his NFC East coaching peers Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin.