Call me crazy. The Cowboys 2013 opponents are out, and I'm already making predictions. The schedule is still unknown. No one knows where which free agent will sign, or which players each team will draft, who will get cut, what trades will be made, or really, how alot of teams will look next year. From season to season, teams can change drastically. The Colts went 2-14, and the addition of one Andrew Luck pretty much turned them into a playoff contender at 11-5. The Seahawks are also one of the new beefed up bullies that went from lowly to prime. Point is, I don't know ecxactly how each one of these teams will look come 2013. But based on their performances this year, I am going to go ahead and predict the season anyway.
The Cowboys will start next year off fresh. Sean Lee will return to the linebacking corps. I just can't wait to see one of our best defensive studs back in action. His partner, who was also a critical member and contributor, as well as someone who filled in for Lee, will be Bruce Carter. He could stuff the run, cover tight ends, and was fast enough to make plays all over the field. Barry Church will be back on the field. We didn't get a very good look at him this year, but he seemed solid and was part of the Cowboys tough defense at the beginning of the year. Kenyon Coleman will be back. Phil Costa. We will start the season with a fully locked and loaded Dez Bryant. He had alost 1400 yards, despite tuning on in the second half of the season. When he's going on all cylinders from Day 1, this offense could become real scary. Here's how I see the Cowboys panning out next year:
Giants: Ahh, the Giants. Lots of bitterness here. They snatched the playoffs from the Cowboys in 2011, en route to a Super Bowl victory. To start 2012, the Cowboys marched into NY and showed the Giants what they're made of. It didn't last long, as the G-Men came to Dallas, looking for revenge, and took a quick 23 point lead. The Cowboys came one play away from pulling off the franchises biggest comeback, in a 29-24 loss. In 2012, both teams missed out on the playoffs. The Giants are 4-0 in Dallas, but I think it ends here. The Giants looked exposed in 2012, and I don't think they are as good as advertised. The NY secondary is pretty weak, and Tony Romo can take advantage of it. The Cowboys corners match up very well against the New York's offense, and they will limit Manning to just 250 yards and pull away with the victory, 23-17.
Eagles: The Eagles are in a transition mode, and should be vulnerable right now. Their offensive line however, should be shored up after the draft, as they have the fourth overall pick and the offensive lineman class is fairly strong this year. Still, I see Dallas being able to put plenty of pressure upon Foles and LeSean McCoy having a steady but not fantastic day running the ball. Dallas wins 27-14.
Redskins: For some reason unbeknownst to me, I see RG3 following the path of Cam Newton; a terrific rookie year, followed by coming back down to earth the next season in a semi-slump. That's right, I just don't think RG3 will be the superhero he was this year. Still, I think the Washington defense has really caught up, and they can protect the ball well, leading to a 20-17 loss for Dallas.
Packers: The Packers seemed to start the season slow, but they have gathered themselves and look in tip top shape now. A great offense and a decent defense is going to be very hard for Dallas to overcome. I don't think the Dallas defense can stop Aaron Rodgers and Co. and vice versa for Romo, Dez, and the gang. The Packers are still the more experienced team, and towards the end of a shootout, the Packers pull out a win, 30-27.
Vikings: The Vikings have made the playoffs, riding the historical season of Adrian Peterson. Dallas will have a very long day slowing down AP, but with Lee and Carter back in the mix, the linebackers will be fast and athletic enough to play very well against the run. Before Lee and Carter went down, running backs had pretty hard days against Dallas (save for Marshawn Lynch) and while no defense is going to be hard for Peterson, Dallas can still do enough to make sure he doesn't dominate. The Vikings produce offense, but the Dallas defense and offense both do just enough to hold on for the win, 24-20.
Broncos: The Broncos are perhaps the best team in the NFL at the moment. They have the quarterback. They have the running game. They have the receivers. They have the pas rush, including a young linebacker who may be the best pass rusher in football. They have the linebackers, and they have the secondary. Their offense and defense is set, and they will be hard to overcome next year. Dallas will keep up, trailing small the whole game, but towards the end, a crucial Broncos score puts the game out of reach for Dallas. Broncos win, 31-20.
Raiders: The Raiders have been a mess this year, and I don't think one year will change much. They will still be a weak team that Dallas will take advantage of in a "break game". Dallas is the clearly better team and is at home, which will result in a 31-17 win for Dallas.
Rams: The Rams are not to be taken lightly anymore, as evidenced by the competitiveness they showed in 2012. They will put up a fight, but Dallas wins with the final score 26-20.
Home Record: 5-3
Giants: The Cowboys may pull off the home win, but the Giants are still a tough team and with the home crowd on their side, can do enough on offense to keep the game above Dallas throughout. One of their receivers has a big game, and Dallas is stuck on the losing end, 28-21.
Eagles: Same story for the Eagles; Foles will be under pressure and McCoy will be limited. At home, Foles also throws two interceptions and Dallas completes the sweep, 34-24.
Redskins: As I said, RG3 will be slumping this year. The Cowboys almost grinded it out at home, but on the road, Dallas finds a way to split the series. The Dallas offense comes alive and puts the game away early in the fourth quarter, en route to a 26-17 win.
Bears: The Bears did not make playoffs this year, but had a pretty good season at 10-6. They have shown that they are a hard nosed team that can win, and this Bears secondary is too tough for Dallas to maneuver around. Chicago will struggle, having a new coach, but their defense will be the key, as the Bears intercept Tony Romo twice and keep him to just 210 yards, and the Bears win 23-13.
Lions: Despite coming just a few yards short of having their own CJ2K, the Lions looked terrible this year, and finished 4-12. When Dallas visits Detroit, the 2011 comeback will be fresh on their minds. The Lions secondary just freaking sucks and Romo will grill the defense for 400 yards and 3 scores, (150 yards and 2 scores for Dez) and Dallas will win 34-27.
Chiefs: The Chiefs are putrid. They will most likely draft Geno Smith, but even with him, the Chiefs will be putrid. Smith is the best QB of a weak class, and the Chiefs problems didn't stop at QB. Dallas will manhandle the Chiefs, and win 27-10.
Chargers: The Chargers were not good this year either, and with a new coach, will struggle in 2013 as a building year. The Chargers can put up a fight, but the Dallas secondary will be the key here, as Carr and Claiborne each get a pick and Dallas holds on to win 33-23.
Saints: The Saints have a prolific offense and the return of Sean Payton will only make them better. They went to OT with Dallas last year, but this time, the Saints will have a big 24-10 lead at halftime. Dallas will catch up, making it 30-30 in the final two minutes, but two minutes is too much time for Drew Brees and his crew, who will win with a field goal in the waning seconds, 33-30.
Away Record: 5-3
The Cowboys final record will be 10-6, which will get them second place in the division and a wild card berth.