The Dallas Cowboys face the usual suspects in the NFC East and are paired with the NFC West and AFC West this season in 2017. When we look back at each season, a few games make or break the momentum and serve as the catalyst for success or trigger for a rough stretch. Let’s take a look at the three games that will play a pivotal role in how the entire season shakes up.
September 10th against the New York Giants
The Dallas Cowboys find themselves in familiar territory as they kick off their season at home against the New York Giants. While each team is familiar with each other, anything can happen when two rivals face off.
1. How will the Dallas offense do without Ezekiel Elliott? Will the Giants load the secondary and force Dak to once again prove his accuracy? Will the new and younger offensive line in Dallas be enough against one of the best defensive lines in the league?
2. Eli Manning enters this season with the best set of wide receivers he has had in a long time, which means a lot since he already has two Super Bowl victories. Dallas enters this season with some new secondary pieces that haven’t had time to gel. Will this early battle shift the favor towards New York or will it serve as a confidence boost to the new Dallas secondary?
3. After handing Dallas its only two meaningful losses during the regular season last year, the Dallas Cowboys want to prove to themselves that they are the kings of the NFC East. Will New York set the tone early and force a third straight loss or can the Cowboys use this game as a catalyst to a lengthy winning streak to open up the season?
October 8th against the Green Bay Packers
Need I say more? The Green Bay Packers ended the Dallas Cowboys season two times in the last three seasons. Regardless of whether Dez caught it in 2015 or whose fault it was in 2017, the Green Bay Packers have owned Dallas when it means the most. This game will be as much mental as it is physical on that Sunday afternoon in Dallas.
1. If Dallas is able to beat Aaron Rodgers and company this season, it will provide a boost in the NFC standings but also it will set up Dallas nicely going into the bye week.
2. If Dallas loses to the Packers, they will wrestle with the loss throughout the bye week and may be deflated in weeks 7 and 8, both very winnable games against the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins.
3. Will this game serve as a preview before the teams match up again in the playoffs in January?
December 24th against the Seattle Seahawks
Week 16 brings the Seattle Seahawks into Dallas in what may dictate the NFC playoff picture. Entering that game, will Seattle need a win to have sole possession of first place, or will a Dallas win knock the Giants out of first place and give Dallas the sole lead for the NFC East?
1. A Dallas victory against the Seattle Seahawks could push them into a division lead, or better yet, a bigger lead in the NFC playoff picture.
2. If Dallas gets outplayed and loses against Seattle, they have to travel to Philly the following week. Will there be a hangover?
3. Seattle is one of the best in the NFC, beating them could serve to further boost the Cowboys confidence if they are heading into the playoffs.
Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys do in these three games in the NFC will guide how well the 2017 season goes. The advantage Dallas carries is that each of these games are at home, but that is something that has mattered less against Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Can Dallas start off strong against New York, shed demons against Green Bay and ride high to end the season against Seattle?