Cowboys will again miss playoffs

Unless Morris Claiborne and the Cowboys' defense show big improvement, they'll miss the playoffs. AP Photo/James D. Smith

"Are you having a good time now, Jerry?" That's what then-coach Barry Switzer asked Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after the team won Super Bowl XXX. But 18 seasons have passed, and Jones has been frustrated, watching his team go 8-8 in three straight seasons. That's not such a good time. In the Football Outsiders Almanac 2014, the Cowboys have a mean projection of 6.9 wins and postseason odds of 19.5 percent. That's based on 1 million simulations of the upcoming season, which account for factors such as recent performance, personnel changes and injury history.

A year ago, we gave Dallas 6.9 mean projected wins and postseason odds of 16.2 percent. So the odds are a hair higher this season, but keep in mind we have only six teams with a smaller mean win projection than Dallas in 2014, and only five teams have lower playoff odds. Another 8-8 finish in 2014 might be disappointing, or it could be a mark of overachievement if you consider the current state of the Cowboys.

No team in the 94-year history of the NFL has finished .500 in four consecutive seasons, so it's time for Dallas to get over the hump or fall hard. The following factors are a good sampling of why the hopes for a successful Dallas season are bleak.