It is definitely way too early to be making any serious predictions, but I can’t help but “mock” next year’s schedule. I know this is before free agency and the draft, but the NFL is just teasing us by releasing next year’s opponents. Here is how I would like to see the season played, with score and (vague) stat predictions.
@ New Orleans Saints (SNF)
Although the Cowboys lost in 2012 to the Saints, the game was very exciting and was my third favorite game of the year, behind the Steelers and the Week 1 Giants games. This game, featuring Dallas’ healthy defense which wasn’t on the field last time, hopefully won’t allow the Saints to run 92 plays like they did last time. However, with Sean Payton back and playing at home, it’s hard to envision the Cowboys coming out with a win. The Cowboys come out on the wrong end of an exciting game.
Final Score: New Orleans 28, Dallas 24
The Rams are becoming a force again in the NFL, led by a snappy defense. The pass rush and secondary may give Dallas fits, but the Rams reduced and unfamiliarized receivers won’t get the offensive production they need. Monte Kiffin brings the turnovers we need and the Dallas defense plays very well towards the end, winning out in the end of a good defensive battle.
Final Score: Dallas 23, St Louis 17
The Vikings come to town, led by Adrian Peterson. The Vikings rely mainly on the run, and lucky for Dallas, they have two excellent run defenders in Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. Despite this, Peterson still rushes for over 100 yards and two scores. Those two scores are not enough because no other touchdowns come from the Vikings and the Cowboys defense holds a late lead.
Final Score: Dallas 28, Minnesota 20
@ New York Giants (SNF)
The Cowboys get their first taste of the New York Giants in week 4 on Sunday Night, remembering the almost jaw dropping comeback that was failed. I’m sure Dez Bryant is not happy about that game wining touchdown being stolen from him and activates his secret weapon: anger. The guy plays like a madman and is the best player on the field as the Cowboys win off an offensive explosion.
Final Score: Dallas 34, New York 24
Week 5: Bye Week
The Cowboys have some time to reflect on their 3 game win streak and 3-1 record. It is a great record to have, but the toughest of the schedule is yet to come, which includes two clashes with Washington, and meeting with the Packers and Broncos. Nevertheless, the Cowboys have some time to rest, relax, and enjoy the way they are playing now. Great time for a bye week, especially after a satisfying win over NY in their own stadium.
The Cowboys march into Philly with the great fourth quarter from 2012 fresh on their minds. Philly puts up a very good fight however, taking it down to the wire. The Dallas defense plays very clutch and does not allow Philadelphia the game winning score.
Final Score: Dallas 23, Philadelphia 21
The Cowboys biggest challenge of the year will visit Dallas in week 7. This is going to be a very difficult game to win, as the Broncos have a great offense and defense. Dallas will start the game very well, but it will change in the third quarter. The Broncos will close out with a dominant second half performance to prevent he upset. It will end the Cowboys 4 game win streak and be the first game the Cowboys lose since week 1.
Final Score: Denver 27, Dallas 24
The Cowboys will face a tough game in Chicago. The fans will no doubt remember Tony Romo’s five interceptions from 2012 and it will bother Romo all day. He throws two more picks and the Cowboys never play well in a deserving defeat.
Final Score: Chicago 26, Dallas 14
Vs Packers (SNF)
The Cowboys will be hurting and trying to stop the bleeding after two straight losses. Sean Lee is the star of the night and Romo and Dez put on their own shows. The Cowboys play clutch in the fourth quarter and force OT. After a couple traded possessions, a big play puts Dallas in position to steal the game. Off of Dan Bailey’s foot, the Cowboys force the upset in their first OT win.
Final Score: Dallas 30, Green Bay 27(OT)
Vs Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles will try and avenge their earlier loss to the Cowboys. The Cowboys do not turnover the ball, but the offense seem off balance all day. The Cowboys lose a game they should have won, and it is a hard punch in the mouth to roll with late in the season.
Final Score: Philadelphia 24, Dallas 17
The Cowboys think they finally have some breathing room against the Raiders. They should, but Dallas gets overconfident and plays flat football. The Cowboys play a dangerously close game, trailing most of the time, before a late field goal forces OT again. The Cowboys score a TD on the first possession to avoid an embarrassing and scary loss.
Final Score: Dallas 23, Oakland 17(OT)
The Cowboys play the first in a string of road games against Detroit. Although it is two years old at this point, the Cowboys are not going to let the 2011 collapse go by without doing something about it. The Cowboys finally put on a truly dominant performance, shutting down Megatron, consistently bother Stafford, forcing multiple turnovers, passing and running well. The Cowboys win late in a very convincing fashion.
Final Score: Dallas 35, Detroit 20
The Cowboys are very lucky to be playing these easy games late. The Chiefs at this point will be playing just to evaluate talent. Dallas will take advantage of the reduced morale and put on a show. The Chiefs will come back a little late in the game, but Brandon Carr leads the defense against his old team with two interceptions and the Cowboys secure win number 8 of the season.
Final Score: Dallas 26, Kansas City 17
The Cowboys will not see the Redskins until very late in the season. The Redskins will not be so hot, RG3 goes through a slight sophomore slump. However, it is not enough for Dallas to win, as the Redskins win in OT.
Final Score: Washington 24, Dallas 21(OT)
The Chargers will be surprisingly competitive next year and will actually be fighting for a slight playoff chance in week 15. The Cowboys at 8-5, will be no different. The Chargers will play very well, and despite a good overall performance from Dallas, the Cowboys drop what should have been a win. It is a very bad blow this late in the season against a team Dallas should have had the advantage against.
Final Score: San Diego 27, Dallas 23
Vs Washington Redskins
At this point in the season, Dallas will be at 8-6, looking to keep their heads afloat in what is essentially a playoff race. The Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants will all be in a tight race for the NFC East crown and both of these last two games against Washington and New York will determine which team comes out on top. The only advantage Dallas will have will be playing at home, however that won’t help very much. But late in the season, in a crucial game, Dallas does something we have not seen in a long time. Dallas plays clutch. The Cowboys score when they need to in the fourth quarter, led by the best game of the season for DeMarco Murray, who gains over 150 yards and all three Dallas TD’s. Dallas wins a big game at home with the Giants coming up next in what could decide the NFC East in week 17.
Final Score: Dallas 24, Washington 23
Vs New York Giants (SNF)
This game will be very important to both teams. The Giants will be fighting for playoffs, and the Cowboys will be as well. This is the third time in a row that week 17 is basically the wild card round for Dallas. But finally, the Cowboys will be playing at home in the finale, and the crowd will be very much involved. Dallas comes back in the fourth quarter after a ten point deficit, then gets the ball for the final possession. A long pass to the enraged Bryant (who once again is playing without mercy and making a living hell for the Giants secondary) sets up a field goal. Dan Bailey walks on to win the game in the last seconds of the regular season, and Dallas finally shows up clutch and are given a birth into the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Final Score: Dallas 33, New York 30
The Cowboys finish 10-6 and go compete in the wild card game. It’s all up in the air from then on. But Jason Garrett finally plays beyond week 17, the Cowboys finally win the NFC East, and the Cowboys get the respect they deserve.
Romo: 64% completion, 4800 yards, 29 TD, 12 INT, 10 Rush, 65 yards, 1 TD
Murray: 1150 yards, 7 TD, 35 rec, 450 yards, 1 TD
Bryant: 110 rec, 1450 yards, 14 TD
Witten: 95 rec, 950 yards, 5 TD
Austin: 65 rec, 950 yards, 5 TD
Harris: 45 rec, 350 yards, 3 TD
Hanna: 35, 500 yards, 2 TD
Ware: 13.5 sacks, 50 tackles, 2 FF
Lee: 140 tackles, 11 passes defended, 3 INT, 2 sacks, 3 FF
Carter: 70 tackles, 6 passes defended, 1 INT, 1FF, 5 sacks
Claiborne: 40 tackles, 15 passes defended, 6 INT (2 TD)
Carr: 55 tackles, 8 passes defended, 4 INT (1TD)