Detroit Lions 2016 Opponent Preview: Dallas Cowboys

August 23, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) and head coach Jason Garrett (right) smile before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi
August 23, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) and head coach Jason Garrett (right) smile before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi /

The Detroit Lions complete the road portion of their 2016 schedule with a week 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have played some memorable games in recent history; will their week 16 meeting result in another?

To check in on the Cowboys, I got together with The Landry Hat‘s Steven Mullenax. My questions followed by his answers are below.

1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?

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It’s a tale of two sides of the ball heading in opposite directions when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. Offensively, the Cowboys could put the most complete team in the NFL on the field this season with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott now in the backfield. With three defenders suspended due to their violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, Dallas will likely struggle on the defensive side of the ball for a most of the season.

As far as free agency is concerned, the Cowboys were relativity quiet. Their biggest acquisitions being running back Alfred Morris, defensive tackle Cedric Thornton and restricted free agent defensive end Benson Mayowa. All three are expected to contribute this season. But none of them constitute the bigger splashes Jerry Jones and company are famous for.

2. Which rookie are you most excited to see play in 2016 and why?

This is a softball question here. It has to be Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. I’m not sure the hype surrounding the rookie could be any higher, but the Cowboys 2016 first round pick (fourth overall) seems up to the challenge. And the fact that both the Cowboys second and third round selections are currently sidelined due to injuries makes Elliott really the lone bright spot of the draft so far.

3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?

The Cowboys various suspensions on the defensive side of the ball have created the biggest concerns heading into training camp. With both potential starting defensive ends Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence out for the first four weeks of the season, and starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain now out for 10 games, Dallas’ front seven is nothing but a giant question mark.

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The Cowboys will look at the progress of young defenders like defensive ends Benson Mayowa, David Irving, Ryan Russell and rookie Charles Tapper to potentially find their new starters come September. At mike linebacker, Dallas is currently scouring the free agent market for depth. But unless a trade is made, expect either Andrew Gachkar or Anthony Hitchens to claim the starting role.

4. What are your expectations for the team in 2016?

I think Super Bowl or bust has been the reoccurring motto for Cowboys fans for the last 20 years. Realistically, and considering the division Dallas plays in, I think winning the NFC East and posting more than one playoff victory is a valid expectation in 2016.

5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game(s) against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up for your team?

A Week 16 matchup, this is a tough prediction. But I expect the Cowboys offense to be one of the best in the NFL. Because of their defense, expect most of their battles this season to be a scoring fest. If that’s the case against the Lions, I’ll give the slight edge to Dallas’ offense at home since they appear to be a more compete team on that side of the ball at this point.

Next: Checking in on the New York Giants

For more on the Dallas Cowboys, check out The Landry Hat.