Everyone nowadays is coming out with season predictions for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012. They range from a 5-11 finish and last in the NFC East to 12-4 and a real SuperBowl run. And here is my own game by game prediction for the one and only Dallas Cowboys:
Week 1: Cowboys @ Giants
This is obviously the game that will be one of the best in 2012. Everyone is looking forward to it. Most of those people are looking for the Giants to trump the Cowboys once again and take a 3-0 lead coming on from 2011. But I think they will be disappointed. The Cowboys have developed the mental toughness to overcome the Giants in this one. Camp seems to be focused on this game entirely. The Cowboys main goal this year might not even be to win the SuperBowl, but to finally show the Giants who the true King of the NFC East is. I think Mo Claiborne will have a poor first game just because he's a rookie, but Brandon Carr will show his worth and limit his receiver and come up with a strong day. Romo will have a strong opener and use his improved weapons to polished perfection. Both offenses will start hot and will roll into the 4th Qtr tied 21-21. But the Cowboys will show they have a different identity this year and play strong in the final portion of the game and roll out with a satisfying and long awaited 35-28 victory.
Week 2: Cowboys @ Seahawks
This one is gonna be tougher than it sounds. In the past the Seahawks have been seen as bottomfeeders and and easy win, but the past couple seasons have been a different story. They have slowly developed into a tough team and have a good chance at playoffs this season. With a new QB manning the position and an already capable offense made up of Marshawn Lynch (avoiding suspension), Sidney Rice, and new addition Terrel Owens, the Seahawks are going to give a down-to-the-last-play fight. I think they Cowboys will do great in the first 2 quarters and head into halftime up 24-10. But then the Seahawks home crowd will show their iconic talent at amazing home crowd support and the hawks will come back and tie it 27-27 and give it back to the 'Boys with the last drive left. It will be a finish that Dallas wins with classic Dan Bailey kick. 30-27
Week 3: Cowboys vs Tampa Bay:
This story will be exciting for plenty of reasons 1) This is the first Dallas home game (I will personally be attending this game!) 2) The Bucs are a new look team with acquisitions Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Carl Nicks, and Vincent Jackson. 3) The Cowboys will get to evaluate Mark Barron, whom they seemed to be ready to draft before taking a shot for Mo Claiborne. Both offenses have great players and this will be another high flying offensive battle. It will be like the opening game, where the game will be close heading into the last few minutes. But the Cowboys defense will lock up the win with two fourth quarter turnovers-turned-scores and win 30-20.
Week 4: Cowboys vs Chicago:
The Cowboys offense will finally seem to be made of a human team this week and slow down after scoring 95 points in the first 3 weeks of the season. Luckily, Brandon Carr will keep Brandon Marshall contained and Claiborne/Jenkins will do their part on the other side. Jay Cutler will make early mistakes and give picks to Carr and Church and the Bears will have to rely heavily on Matt Forte. He will dice up the defense but won't sniff the endzone as the Dallas D locks down on their own side of the 50. But the Cowboys offense will also be having a hard time as Romo also has a couple INT's and the running game coughs up its first fumble. The game goes into OT tied at 13. The Cowboys will have to stop the Bears offense (which the will) and win it again by the foot of Dan Bailey. Chicago goes home after a tough loss and Cowboys win 16-13 to celebrate a 4-0 record as they prepare for the Ravens after the Week 5 bye.
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: Cowboys @ Ravens:
This will be the toughest challenge the Cowboys will have in the first 6 weeks of the season. Joe Flacco is turning into a great QB and has the offensive weapons in newly extended Ray Rice, and veteran receiver Boldin and Smith. The defense should be lacking Terrell Suggs, but Courtney Upshaw will show his discontent at dropping to the second round and be on a hot streak. The Cowboys will play hard in the first half and keep up with the Ravens and go into halftime tied at 13. But in the second half, injuries begin to show up for the Cowboys as Upshaw finds a nice lane to get a full speed shot at Romo and take him out of the game. Kyle Orton will come in and the dropoff will be noted. He will give up the ball and the Ravens offense will also take out Mike Jenkins for the game. The Cowboys will lose ground as the Terrible Turnovers make an unsightly appearance and the Ravens will take control and send the Cowboys packing after a 27-16 loss.
Week 7: Cowboys @ Panthers:
The Panthers are also becoming a force in the NFC as they show a heavy offensive presence. However, with a QB only in his second year and a team still trying to find its identity, they will have a struggle against the Cowboys. The Cowboys will take a late lead in the 4th, 28-27. The Panthers will be given one shot to get in field goal range and win, but Cam will show that he is still relatively new to the NFL and throw a game-losing interception to Mo Claiborne (his first pick of the season) and the Cowboys come home after their closest game yet, beating Newton and the Panthers 28-27.
Week 8: Cowboys vs Giants:
The Cowboys will show some flashes from their disappointing 2011 season in this game. They wil be standing with a NFC leading 5-1 but will lose some steam in this coming stretch. The story will be the same: the Cowboys will have a 24-14 lead in the 4th, but Eli will remember that his is undefeated in the new stadium and will rally a comeback to avoid getting sweeped. The Giants will play good in the 4th and force Romos hand. They will deliver the Cowboys second loss of the season and win it 28-24.
Week 9: Cowboys @ Falcons:
This will be another super-hard game for the Cowboys to win. The Falcons are a good team to begin with a loaded with talent, not to mention they will be playing at home. Atlanta will take an early lead and The Cowboys will trail closely to the very end. But the Falcons will have a stroke of luck in the last few minutes and finish up a close game. The Cowboys will unfortunately lose their third game of the season 20-17.
First Half Review:
The Cowboys stand 5-3 at the seaon half. They will be tied to the lead in the NFC East, with the harder part of the season coming up. They will need to have a higher level of competition if they wish to get in the playoffs. Will they push it over the top and get to the promised land? Or will they lose a perfect opportunity and miss out on the postseason fun for the third season in a row? They started off hot, going 4-0 before the bye, then seemed to lose their mean streak as they finished the next 4 games with a record of 1-3. Read on the find out how they do in the second half of the season.
Week 10: Cowboys @ Eagles:
The Cowboys will face fierce rivals in the ninth game of the season. The Eagles will also have a score to settle with the NFL as they were also primed for a big season but finshed 8-8 just like the Cowboys. The Eagles will start off slow and give in to the Cowboys. After taking a 21-10 lead. Mike Vick and the Eagles comback team of 2010 will make a reappearance, at home this time, and finish the game 27-24 with a win for Philadelphia. The Cowboys will go home with their fourth loss of the last 5 weeks with a record of 5-4.
Week 11: Cowboys vs. Browns:
The Cowboys will be angry to have lost hold of the NFC East and fall to second place. They will be hungry and starving for a win after losing 3 games in a row. They will take out their pent up anger and frustration on the vulnerable Browns. Weeden will be a rookie and will give two interceptions to Claiborne, and another to Sensabaugh. Richardson will also run into rookie trouble and only manage about 70 yards against a mean Cowboys linebacking squad despite carrying the ball about 25 times. The Browns will feel that the Cowboys are really pissed and will only manage a field goal. Demarcus Ware will also come up with 3 big sacks, giving him 18 on the season and the sack record in his sights. Meanwhile, the Cowboys offense will come together. The O-Line will keep all pressure off of Romo, and with a clear backfield and set feet, Romo will pick apart the Browns secondary in a mean and embarassing way. He will have a career day, throwing 30/38, 4 TDS, no ints, and 400+ yards. Murray will also have a 150 yard game of his own and the Browns disfaced defense will lose in a bad way 38-3. The Cowboys will finally be tasting victory again.
Week 12: Cowboys vs Redskins:
The Cowboys will be ready to roll in this Thanksgiving clash. The Cowboys always perform well on Thanksgiving and Cowboys fans love to watch. This game will have a season high audience present at Cowboys stadium. The support will give the Cowboys the edge they need. However, Pro Bowl Bound Dez Bryant will unfortunately be unavailable for this game with an injury. The game will be on the backs of Murray and, a name that hasn't carried this team too much but will be the biggest factor in this game. With one of Romos favorite targets out fr the game, Miles Austin will have a game resembling the 2009 breakout game against the Chiefs. Murray will add an impressive 200 yards on the ground, and Austin will pick up 10-12 receptions for about 200 yards and all three of the Cowboys scores. The defense will limit the Redskins to one passing touchdown, and one more from the running game, but ultimately win 21-14 and deliver a bitter Thanksgiving in DC.
Week 13: Cowboys vs Eagles:
This game will have playoff implications for the Cowboys. They should be tied with the Eagles for the Division Lead. It could set the tone for the rest of the season. Fortunately for the Cowboys, this game will be at home and all the key pieces will be healthy. The loss from 3 weeks ago will not be forgotten as the Cowboys pregame rally themselves. Romo and Co. will have a good day and take an early lead. They will put up 24 points on the board. The Eagles will keep up, but wont get it done ont he final drive as the Demarcus Ware gets his 19th sack of the season as he takes down Mike Vick on fourth down to regain possession and win the game. The Cowboys are back on a winning stride after a 24-20 win.
Week 14: Cowboys @ Bengals:
The last 4 games of the season will be as important as ever for the Cowboys. They will be pumped for this game, after dethroning the Eagles the week before and regaining the NFC East lead. They will head into this game 8-4, and after taking on a variety of types of players, they will be ready for whetever the Bengals throw at them. They will contain the passing a ground game and keep the Bengals to a a paltry 17 points. However in this game, both Demarco Murray and Miles Austin will be out for a week. The game will rely on Felix Jones and Dez Bryant. Dez has a good day, hauling in 8 passes and two scores, but Felix struggles, only managing 50 yards. But Danny Coale (who I think is set to win the no. 3 receiver job by this part of the season.) will have a surprisingly good day, getting 6 passes and coming up with a score of his own. The cowboys are victorious again 21-17, and roll out in position to win the NFC East with a record of 9-4.
Week 15: Cowboys vs Steelers:
Cowboys vs Steelers is always exciting. They have a bitter rivalry going on, but this is a game that only comes every four years, so it is sure to be a thriller. Too bad for the Cowboys though, as they will have to wait another four years to have a chance at beating the Steelers (at least in the regular season). They will start off competitive, but Romo will have his December woes as he throws two late game INT's and the Cowboys lose 28-14. However, JG5000 is a good coach as he puts this loss behind the team and helps them focus on preparing for the next week against the Saints.
Week 16: Cowboys vs Saints:
The Cowboys will face off the Saints in a classic week 16 shootout. Both teams remember Demarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff together snapping the Saints 13 game sin streak. They will also remember the 2010 Thanksgiving game, where the Cowboys almost came back, but couldn't do enough. Curtis Lofton will do a good job filling in for Jonathan Vilma (if he isnt back in the NFL yet) and the Cowboys will be hampered and be forced to rely on the pass game. They play good, and so do the saints. But despite the loud and rowdy home crowd, and an impressive offensive show, the Cowboys are just unable to keep up with the Saints and lose 28-21.
Week 17: Cowboys @ Washington:
9-6. The Cowboys will have to win this one. The Eagles have fallen to a secure wild card spot, and it is either a win and NFC East crown for the Cowboys, or another playoff berth stolen from their hands. RGIII is now accustomed to the NFL and has taught the Redskins what it feels like to win. They arent in any playoff race, but they will be prepared to beat the Cowboys and keep a playoff berth from the Cowboys. But the Cowboys will be ready as well. The players they need will be healthy. Demarcus Ware will need one sack to break the NFL sack record. Claiborne will have molded to his role as a starter and will already have 4 picks on the season. Brandon Carr will look to continue his consistency as he tries to keep the redskins pass game in check. The redskins defense will be as fierce as ever. This will surely be a game to remember and watch. The odds however will be against Dallas as the game will be in FedEx field, where the redskins always do good. It will start of hot as each offense gets it rolling and the game is tied at half 17-17. Demarcus ware gets his needed sack and makes a new sack record. But it doesnt slow down the redskins and they get in the endzone again and take a 24-17 lead. Romo then makes a crucial mistake as he fumbles off a hit from Orakpo and the redskins get the ball again at the end of the third. RGIII drives them down field and they get a field goal at the begininng of the fourth quarter to take a 10 point lead. Dallas playoff chances are looking slim, as they are down 10 in the fourth and playing against the crowd. But Romo quiets his doubters as he gets a long touchdown in to Dez Bryant to once again make it a 3 point game. a few back and forth drives ensue, with no scoring. Finally, with time running out, Dallas has the ball back. Romo drives his team upfield, and converts an important fourth down to Jason Witten and set up a field goal for Dan Bailey. It is a long one, about 50 yards, but Dan Bailey has matured into one of the leagues best kickers and nails it to tie it and send it into OT. The Cowboys are succesfull in the clutch, as Demarco murray takes a handoff and breaks free to hit it home on a season long carry for a TD and a win for the Cowboys!
Season Review: The Cowboys showed that they are a clutch team by pulling out a huge OT win against the Redskins and with a 10-6 record, they are the leaders of the NFC East. They finally make a return to the postseason and Romo has secured himself a spot on this team for years to come. Dez had his breakout season, while Pick 6 showed why he was picked int eh top 10. Brandon Carr was a strong leader for a secondary that was able to pull through. Sean Lee, Demarcus Ware, Morris Claiborne, Tony Romo, Demarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, and Dan Bailey all make the Pro Bowl, thus having the most representatives of any team. Brandon Carr barely misses it to Mo Claiborne, but feels good about his chances next year. Ware is also named to the All-Pro team.
I would really appreciate the opinion of my fellow BTBers. Please leave a comment on what you think, and where you think I might have made a mistake. I love the Cowboys, and maybe gave them an unfair edge in some games, but I think I was as fair as possible. Tell me what you guys think and where the outcome could be different. Thanks for reading!
Safwan Tukdi (Please don't mind my bizarre name, I'm from Pakistan)