I preface this by assuming the 'Boys do what they should in the draft and address O-line, D-line, RB, and Safety.
Week 1 - 9/8 - vs. NY Giants.
Just like last year, the 'Boys start off the season strong with great plays from Romo and the new Kiffin D. Murray is healthy and is a big part of the offensive success, and the Cowboys win an exciting game that comes down to defensive plays by Claiborne and Lee. Cowboys 31-24 (1-0).
Week 2 - 9/15 - at Kansas City.
Andy Reid doesn't have the talent (yet) in KC that he had for most of his tenure in Philly, and the Cowboys win a rather boring game with a good running attack and physical defense. Cowboys 24-10 (2-0).
Week 3 - 9/22 - vs. St. Louis.
Coach Fisher has the Rams much more prepared in another year of off-season and training camp, but the talent level is better for the now-healthy 'Boys. Bradford is more comfortable now as well, but the game boils down to more mistakes from him than Romo, and Claiborne looks like the player we thought he would be with two picks. Cowboys 34-17 (3-0).
Week 4 - 9/29 - @ San Diego.
New coach Mike McCoy is going to help, but he'll have to keep Rivers from throwing interceptions to a much-improved Cowboys' secondary, and that doesn't happen here. The Cowboys normally play pretty well against the Chargers, and the continued health in Dallas lasts until the 4th quarter, when Tony Romo injures his non-throwing shoulder while being sacked. Cowboys 27-20 (4-0), but status for Romo is unclear.
Week 5 - 10/6 - vs. Denver.
A loud crowd and a spirited effort by the 'Boys in Romo's absence falls just short as Manning and Welker play small-ball and score just enough to win in Dallas. Orton plays well, but fumbles while being hit late to help seal a Broncos victory in a game that features two unbeaten teams. Broncos 24-20 (4-1).
Week 6 - 10/13 - vs. Washington.
The 'Skins come in as favorites due to Romo missing his 2nd consecutive game, but the Cowboys new D confuses RGIII, who continues to suffer from a bit of a sophomore slump, and the Cowboys improved offensive line controls the line of scrimmage as Murray has a big game. Orton plays a controlled and flawless game and the 'Boys bounce back with a big home win against the hated 'Skins. Cowboys 23-10 (5-1).
Week 7 - 10/20 - @ Philadelphia.
Romo comes back and plays very well against a new Philly team that is exciting but inconsistent. Kelly bailed on an Oregon team that is in the midst of serious violations, but has the Eagles going in the right direction, but keeping Vick healthy is still a challenge. Romo wins this one with some fireworks in a shootout. Cowboys 35-32 (6-1).
Week 8 - 10/27 - @ Detroit.
Matt Stafford continues his improved play as Detroit beats a flat Cowboys team that historically doesn't play well in the Motor City. The game is ugly and physical, and Romo plays perhaps his worst game of the season while a non-existent running game can't help out. Lions 20-10 (6-2).
Week 9 - 11/3 - vs. Minnesota.
Minnesota still hasn't solved their QB issues, and the Cowboys key on Peterson all game long to slow down (but not stop) the former Sooner. Romo rebounds with 5 Tds after a poor game in Detroit, and the 'Boys move into a showdown at New Orleans with a big win at home. Cowboys 41-17 (7-2).
Week 10 - 11/10 - @ New Orleans.
At New Orleans. THE head coach is back, and has the Saints prepared for a strong Cowboy effort, and the home team prevails in a great game. Both teams make superb plays on both sides of the ball, and the home crowd is the difference in a Saints victory. Saints 27-22 (7-3).
Week 11 - BYE
Week 12 - 11/24 - @ NY Giants.
People start to sweat as the Cowboys move to 3-3 in their last six games with a loss in the Meadowlands. The Giants play turnover free ball, and that's the difference in a very physical defensive contest. Giants 13-10 (7-4).
Week 13 - 11/28 - Oakland.
Turkey Day is fun for the home team as the 'Boys beat up two back-up Raider QBs and dominate on both sides of the ball. Romo has 4 TDs and Murray racks up over 130 yards in a feast. Cowboys 45-7 (8-4).
Week 14 - 12/9 - @Chicago.
Monday night football and a mirror-opposite game from last year for Tony Romo. He has 4 TDs and no INTs to redeem himself from last year's debacle, and the Cowboys pick off Jay Cutler three times in a big road win that puts them a win away from clinching a playoff spot. Chicago fans have had enough of Cutler and boo him after he's benched, and the Cowboys play perhaps their best game of the season (against a good team). Cowboys 31-14 (9-4).
Week 15 - 12/15 - vs. Green Bay.
The Cowboys get the Pack at HOME (always has been a key) and for the second consecutive week, beat a good team by controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage. Rodgers keeps the Pack close, but the Dallas ground game controls the 4th quarter (taking us back to the Cowboys of the early 90's) and the 'Boys clinch a playoff spots. Cowboys 27-21 (10-4).
Week 16 - 12/22 - @ Washington.
The Cowboys have an opportunity to send a message to the league in Washington, but lay an egg after two great wins. RGIII is healthy (enough) and leads a balanced attack to keep the 'Skins alive in another tight NFC East playoff race. Skins 23-16 (10-5).
Week 17 - 12/29 - vs. Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is moving in the right direction, but without Michael Vick. The Cowboys play well in their home finale and pick off Nick Foles three times to have their best INT total in more than a decade. Romo gets to rest in the second half as the Cowboys prepare for the playoffs with an NFC East-clinching victory. Cowboys 38-17 (11-5).
I feel this is a Cowboys team a lot like the Steve Beurlein-led playoff team that turned a corner and launched the 'Boys to greatness in the early 90's. They're not there yet (they lose in the playoffs to a 49ers team that's simply better), but they finally achieve some playoff success and make major strides forward due to a spectacular 2013 draft and unprecendented health.
Romo earns his money, the o-line is better (but still a focus in the 2014 draft), and the defense is more consistent under Kiffin. More than anything else, the Cowboys are simply healthy most of the year, with a full-year from Murray and Lee and Church and Carter.
The Cowboys lose in the NFC Championship against eventual Super Bowl Champion San Francisco, setting up a repeat of some early 1990's fireworks to come in the future betwen two great franchises.
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