Can Cowboys Escape the Muddled Middle?


IRVING – I have a saying about the NFL: “It’s an 8-8 league.’’ As the result of institutionalized parity, the NFL will annually see about two-thirds of its teams finish within two games of .500, one way or another. Then there will be a handful of truly “good’’ teams and a handful of truly “bad’’ teams…but the muddy, muddled middle will occupy the majority of the standings.

Las Vegas gets me.

The odds on over under wins for the 2016 NFL season are now out and there are just five teams predicted to win more than 10.5 games — and that group does not include your Dallas Cowboys. Carolina, Green Bay, New England, Pittsburgh and Seattle are your five “goods.’’

The defending Super Bowl champions in Denver are given an over-under of nine wins for the 2016 regular season. The group given an over-under of 9.5 wins — the leaders of the “muddy, muddled middle,’’ if you will — is the Colts, Chiefs, Cardinals, Vikings, Bengals and …Cowboys.

That doesn’t mean Dallas will be “bad’’; heck, it means the Cowboys are the smart bet to win the NFC East, ahead of the Giants (eight wins), the Redskins (7.5) and the Eagles (seven).

How many “bad’’ teams will there be? Just three. Just that handful. Like there always are.

Below are the over-under lines set for the 2016 regular season, according to Bovada, and the 2015 records of the teams.

Over/Under 10.5 Wins
Carolina Panthers (15-1)
Green Bay Packers (10-6)
New England Patriots (12-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

Over/Under 9.5 Wins
Arizona Cardinals (13-3)
Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Dallas Cowboys (4-12)
Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Minnesota Vikings (11-5)

Over/Under 9 Wins
Denver Broncos (12-4)

Over/Under 8.5 Wins
Baltimore Ravens (5-11)
Houston Texans (9-7)
Oakland Raiders (7-9)

Over/Under 8 Wins
Buffalo Bills (8-8)
New York Giants (6-10)
New York Jets (10-6)

Over/Under 7.5 Wins
Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
Chicago Bears (6-10)
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
Los Angeles Rams (St Louis 7-9)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
Washington Redskins (9-7)

Over/Under 7 Wins
Detroit Lions (7-9)
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
San Diego Chargers (4-12)

Over/Under 5.5 Wins
San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
Tennessee Titans (3-13)

Over/Under 4.4 Wins
Cleveland Browns (3-13)

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Mike Fisher has over 30 years of covering professional sports and has done so based in Dallas since 1990. 'Fish' is an award-winning journalist, TV analyst and radio talk-show personality who serves as the Dallas Cowboys' 'insider' for 105.3 The Fan on the radio and as the Dallas Mavericks' insider for Fox Sports Southwest on TV. Fish is the publisher of , is also a national contributor to FOX Sports, has covered 21 Super Bowls, has authored two best-selling books on the Cowboys (with forewords by Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman) and can be followed at @FishSports on Twitter.