After all the buildup, mystery, and drama, the 2015 NFL schedule is finally unveiled. Here is an incredibly early look at some of the story-lines for next year's Cowboys games.
Week 1 Dallas vs Giants: For the third time in the last four years Dallas opens the season against the New York Giants. Not much to say about this one as it's pretty much old hat by now. Major questions are, will Greg Hardy be suspended? Will Dwayne Harris be a difference maker? And how many times will Eli Manning impersonate a squeak toy?
Week 2 Dallas at Eagles: For the first time since 2000 Dallas will be playing two NFC East teams back-to-back to start the year. This is the 15th year anniversary of the infamous "pickle juice" game. What will Chip Kelly's garbage fire...I mean football team look like? And how will DeMarco Murray fare against his former team?
Week 3 Dallas vs Atlanta: It's easy to make fun of Atlanta, but if they're healthy they can boast a top-tier passing attack. Will Dallas be able to cover Julio Jones & company? For the third time in three games Dallas will face a former player, this time in the form of Justin Durant.
Week 4 Dallas at Saints: Tony Romo and the Cowboys get to square off against Drew Brees and the new-look Saints on Sunday night. Night games have been something of a buggaboo for Dallas lately, but if the Cowboys win this they have a great chance to start the season 4-0. Some questions; can Drew Brees recover his mojo or is he in decline?
Week 5 Dallas vs Patriots: The champs come to Texas! This will be a great game to see exactly what kind of a team Dallas is, but that's not the big storyline. The thing to watch is the battle between the coaches. What team can be more close-mouthed about injuries coming into the game? Will Jason Garrett or Bill Belichik give more enlightening press conferences? That's where the real action is!
Week 6 Bye Week: Dallas has a very good chance to enter the bye at either 4-1 or 5-0. I'm not a fan of the early bye week.
Week 7 Dallas at New York: Squeak Gate Part II. If Greg Hardy wasn't available for the first game, he should be for the rematch. In their second meeting last year OBJ broke out on the national stage in a big way. Can Dallas stop that from happening again?
Week 8 Dallas vs Seattle: Last year this was one of the best games of the season, will this year be the same? Dallas is playing at home which should give them the edge, or does it given last year's crazy home (4-4) and away (8-0) records. Will there be another miracle 4th and 20? Will Dallas's run game be strong enough to stop the Seahawks from keying on Romo?
Week 9 Dallas vs Eagles: This is where Chip Kelly's master plan all comes together, as he trots out his 8th different QB. Dallas is unprepared to play against Jared Lorenzen, and are completely befuddled when Tebow and "The Hefty Lefty" are both in the backfield in what can only be described as a "big" formation. Unfortunately it's hard to win in the NFL with no wide receivers and the Eagles lose again.
Week 10 Dallas at Tampa: Some of Tony Romo's best games have come courtesy of the Bucs. Will the trend continue? Or will Dallas choose to run on a team that posted a -49.5 run defense score per PFF?
Week 11 Dallas at Florida: Two weeks in a row in Florida, in November. The biggest question here is, will Dallas bother coming home between games? The Dolphins should provide a good test for the Cowboys. The biggest question; with George Selvie gone who is going to make Dallas Thomas look like he's wearing roller skates?
Week 12 Dallas vs. Carolina: Thanksgiving day. Greg Hardy's return to Carolina. Clash of Division Champions. I'm sure all these are thoughts that were running through the scheduler maker's minds. But the real story here is the line battle, as Carolina's great defensive line goes up against the Great Wall of Dallas.
Week 13 Dallas at Washington: The good news; Dallas has nearly two weeks off after their Thanksgiving day game. The bad news. They are playing a Monday night game. On ESPN. In Washington. You couldn't get more bad juju at a voodoo convention in New Orleans. Some major questions; does Washington's stable offseason pay off? What will their defense look like now that longtime Romo nemesis Jim Haslett isn't calling the defense? Will RGIII still be the Redskins QB?
Week 14 Dallas at Green Bay: If Seattle isn't the favorite for game of the year, then Dallas versus Green Bay should be. Dallas returns to the scene of their playoff demise with two major questions; can they get to Aaron Rodgers? And just how amped up is Dez Bryant going to be? The biggest question; how much will #itsstillacatch trend on twitter?
Week 15 Dallas vs Jets: Dallas has four late night games. This is one of them. I don't know why.
Week 16 Dallas at Bills: While the Bills are far removed from their glory days, this should be an interesting game. The Bills have one of the best defensive lines in the league and will provide a good test for the Tyronasauros and friends.
Week 17 Dallas vs Washington: Here's a fun fact; only once since 2007 has Dallas not finished the season with a game against either Washington or Philadelphia. The lone outlier was in 2011 when we played the New York Giants to end the season. So for the third time in the last four years Dallas is playing Washington in Week 17. In 2012 it was a win or go home game. In 2014 it was a warm up for the postseason. I expect 2015 to be closer to the latter than the former.