For many years now the Dallas Cowboys have had the pieces in place to suggest they were about to embark on a serious run to Super Bowl glory.
Then they hit a wall. A wall so big that even this giant of teams cannot see past or over.
Some blame individuals for the lack of success; this is harsh as when a team does have divisions, championships and Super Bowls, its always branded a team game.
The Cowboys organization screams big, brash, wanting to be the best, so what are the 2013 team going to do to show that they are not just full of hot air? To prove that the talent on their roster is up to the job?
Silencing the critics is always tough when you are playing for America's Team. They are playing in what is traditonally one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.
How can they rule the NFC East again? Lets break down each regular season game and what it will take to get the Cowboys back into the playoffs, and potentailly on the way to their sixth Lombardi trophy.
WEEK 1 - SEPT 8th - NEW YORK GIANTS
The season opener is always important, chalk up that first W and you are on your way. Last year the Cowboys travelled to New York and defeated the Giants in the opener.
Home-field advantage doesnt count for much when its the other way around. Dallas have yet to beat Big Blue at Cowboys...oops sorry, AT&T Stadium. That alone could be enough to inspire the Cowboys to win this one in front of the Sunday Night Football audience. Cowboys win 28-16
WEEK 2 - SEPT 15th - at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
After many years of rivalry with Andy Reid, the Cowboys would have been relieved when one of their enemies was let go from the Eagles. Reid quickly found a new home and will enjoy the chance to knock off the Cowboys again with his new red cap on. On paper this looks like a Dallas win but thers no such thing and they will be run close in front of a hostile crowd. Cowboys win 23-20
WEEK 3 - SEPT 22nd - ST. LOUIS RAMS
A decent start then, at 2-0 the Cowboys will be bouyed by the fact they return home to face another team that should spell victory. Jeff Fisher is slowly building a decent team. He knows how to get the best out of his players, and the defense will play hard. Look for Dallas to dink and dunk their way through this, but with the occassional deep gain to knock out the Rams. Cowboys win 38-17
WEEK 4 - SEPT 29th - at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
A long trip out west to play a team that blows hot and cold. The Chargers are a team not too dissimilar to Dallas. They have often shown great promise but failed to deliver. This is a strange one to call as the last four meetings the road team has come away with the win. Theres nothing from the Chargers' camp this time that would suggest bucking that trend, and the Cowboys are now on a roll. Cowboys win 27-13
WEEK 5 - OCT 6th - DENVER BRONCOS
Having not really been thoroughly tested since Week 1 this is the one that most Dallas fans looked at with a bit of fear. A fast 4-0 start has given them confidence but the Broncos ride into Texas with the same record, and this game would set down a marker for the rest of the league to sit up and notice they are the real deal. This will be a battle through the air as Romo will look to outgun Peyton Manning, turnoovers will be the key here though. Cowboys lose 35-31
WEK 6 - OCT 13th - WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Always the first game that the fans of these two look for when the schedule is released. Another game for the ages here as RG3 will look to improve his 2-0 record against Dallas and put him into Redskins' folklore for good. Of course he may not even be in this game if his injury from the end of last year resurfaces in the early season going. Would that take the shine off a Dallas win? We wont know as Cowboys lose 24-13
WEEK 7 - OCT 20th - at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
At this point Cowboys fans will be forgiven for thinking that the wheels are coming off already, losing two games after a strong start. They are rewarded though with the luxury of a trip to the Eagles. Not often you can call a trip to Philly a luxury, but with Chip Kelly failing to get to grips with life in the NFL now is the perfect time for Jason Garrett's men to get back to winning ways. Cowboys win 16-10
WEEK 8 - OCT 27th - at DETROIT LIONS
Approaching halfway and at 5-2, this is the time when teams move into contention, a sorting out the men from the boys. This is the time when the Cowboys defense led by Monte Kiffins new schemes will come into its own as they have to clamp down on Stafford-Johnson.
Also in an effort to try and erase the horrible comeback that the Lions pulled off in 2011, coming back from 24 points down to win, Romo will passs for big numbers. Cowboys win 38-14
WEEK 9 - NOV 3rd - MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Back home, trying to improve on the 2-2 record here so far, the Cowboys throw out the red carpet to the Vikings, Adrian Peterson then stomps all over it. All day.
Well he does it to most teams and it should be no different here. Cowboys defenders are made to look silly as they grab air as AP goes by.
Will his running alone be enough? Its a bad day at the office for Romo and his old nemesis of Mr. Interception comes back to haunt him. Cowboys lose 24-13
WEEK 10 - NOV 10th - at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
For the third time Dallas find themselves on SNF. If things were bad last week, they are about to get worse. Playing in the Superdome for the first time since 2009 will bring back good memories of a narrow win.
Since then they have lost twice to Drew Brees' arm, and so it is again. In a thrilling game that goes back and forth, the Cowboys do nothing to suggest that they are contenders. Cowboys lose 31-21
WEEK 11 - BYE WEEK
WEEK 12 - NOV 24th - at NEW YORK GIANTS
On the road. Again. Even after a week off to lick their wounds the Cowboys get no respite. The eGiants remain in contention in the East and will want to split the series and strengthen their position as the race for the playoffs starts to heat up. Wanting to avoid a three-game slide the Cowboys have been helped by the week off and have just enough in the tank, a heavy dose running the ball will help. Cowboys win 27-21
WEEK 13 - NOV 28th - OAKLAND RAIDERS
Thanksgiving Day used to mean a Cowboys win. In recent years they havent had it all their way going 5-3 since 2005. This time they face the Raiders (phew) if ever the Cowboys needed a break this is it. Oakland fans have had more reason to moan than Dallas ones over the last decade. Bringing their intimidating brand sometimes just isnt enough, and so it proves. You can have your turkey dinner in peace, Cowboys fans. Cowboys win 31-13
WEEK 14 - DEC 9th - at CHICAGO BEARS
The only appearance on Monday Night Football this year, and it comes in December (shudder) in Chicago (nice). The Bears at this stage will be out of playoff contention and so will be playing for pride and the chance to dent the Cowboys' hopes. They have home filed and Dallas' horrible December worries on their side. If the Cowboys lose this one everyone to a man will claim that the Cowboys will miss out. It's DECEMBER!! Cowboys lose 24-16
WEEK 15 - DEC 15th - GREEN BAY PACKERS
It doesnt get any easier. The Packers are showing everyone just why they were tipped at the start of the season why they were installed as favourites in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers is having another stellar year throwing the football, and will have looked at how Manning and Brees shredded the secondary of Dallas.
A scheduler's dream this one as if Green Bay win they are in the playoffs and hand Dallas a near impossible task of having to win their final two games to get in. Cowboys lose 31-17
WEEK 16 - DEC 22nd - at WASHINGTON REDSKINS
The math is simple now. Win the last two games against division opponents and the Cowboys win the East, anything less and they miss out on postseason play. So its with open arms that they arrive in the nation's capital.
Romo will look to exorcise the demons from a year ago. His costly turnovers down the stetch cost the Cowboys the division. It will not happen again. Against all odds he manages to pulll this one out in an amazing comeback that will have Dallas fans believing all over again. Cowboys win 31-30
WEEK 17 - DEC 29th - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
This is it. Once again the destiny of the entire season comes down to the final game. Having had many chances in the past to use Week 17 as a springboard to greatness, they are handed another.
The Eagles are a spent force and have nothing to play for, but when they jump out to an early lead it looks all over. Slowly but surely the Cowboys work their way back into the game and Romo goes through the gears. Its his moment and maybe after all his year. Cowboys win 34-28
Cowboys win East with a 10-6 record, and will host a wild card game.