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    Surprise, Surprise: Unexpected NFC Landscape Benefits Cowboys

    Don't look now, but the NFC is changing.

    In one season, a conference that boasted true contenders suddenly seems muddled. The defending NFC champions are 1-4 and the team they beat to get there is 2-3. Even the once scary Green Bay Packers are still winning games, yes, but lacking that level of dominance we're accustomed to seeing from them over the years.

    New names, faces, and teams are making a name for themselves this season. The find themselves right in the mix.

    Raise your hand if you had Dallas, the , and the all at one loss through five weeks of the season.

    I know I didn't.

    And how about the ? Yes, this group was a playoff team from a season ago, but they appear to be arguably the best team in all of football at the moment. This, all without star and their starting .

    So how exactly do the Cowboys fit into all of this?

    When I look at the AFC, I see a conference dominated by three teams. The , , and are all powerhouses in their own ways. One has the best in the league, the other has a championship , and the third has the greatest /quarterback duo of all time. Enough Said.

    But the NFC is much different.

    The are the one true team right now that is what we thought they were. They struggled early on, but have appeared to have gotten back on track in the past two weeks. They are a championship team that can be trusted, and remain a big threat in the conference. But the level of trust should end there in the NFC.

    The Minnesota Vikings are looking spectacular, but they will be tested when their offense is needed to win games for them. Is truly good enough to take this team to the promised land? It is fair to question whether or not that is the case.

    The Atlanta Falcons are 4-1 and rolling offensively, but we may have already seen this song and dance from them last year with their hot start and drastic collapse. A win at Denver a week ago cannot be ignored though. Will their offense be able to keep up this pace and will their defense continue to surprise?

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    And then we have the NFC East surprises of the Eagles and Cowboys. looks like the real deal, and their defense, led by , is nothing to scoff at. Can the new-look Eagles keep it up?

    The bottom line here is that for the first time in years, the NFC doesn't appear to truly have the brick wall of perennial powers that the AFC has.

    All of these question marks listed here benefit a young, up and coming team like the Cowboys. That's not to say the team doesn't have its own fair share of questions, but the unexpected NFC landscape plays right into the Cowboys' hands.

    It's early still, but 2016 could be the year of a surprise team emerging from the conference. If this NFC landscape remains as such, Dallas fans can start asking themselves, why not us?

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    Justin Grohowski
    Justin Grohowski
    Die hard Dallas Cowboys fan behind enemy lines here in New Jersey. CBS Sports employee and contributor for InsideTheStar.com.

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