The 2023 NFL schedule has been released, and we now know exactly when each of the Cowboys’ opponents will unfold. It’s still way too early to know what to expect from any of these teams, but it’s never too early to start predicting outcomes of games.
Week 1 at New York Giants
The Giants committed to Daniel Jones in the offseason and then went all out in getting him new weapons to work with, adding four new receivers and trading for tight end Darren Waller. They also franchise tagged Saquon Barkley, who has yet to sign the tag and is set to hold out of voluntary offseason workouts.
All of this creates some uncertainty for the Giants offense, which will likely turn out to be fine in the long run but might have some issues right at the start of the season. It doesn’t help that they run into a buzzsaw of a Cowboys defense to kick things off. Mike McCarthy manages to get his first Week 1 win as the Cowboys head coach.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 1-0
Week 2 vs New York Jets
The good news is Aaron Rodgers left the NFC. The bad news is the Cowboys still have to face him this year as they host the Jets. McCarthy gets one more shot at beating his former quarterback, and this game will represent the first real test for the new play-caller, going up against a defense that ranked fifth in DVOA just a year ago.
The assumption is that McCarthy pulls out all the stops in this one to beat the quarterback that he definitely doesn’t hold a grudge against. That, combined with the Jets coming off a short week from playing Monday Night Football in Week 1, plays into the Cowboys’ hands.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 2-0
Week 3 at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are widely expected to be one of the worst teams in football this year, and Draft Kings currently gives them the best odds to wind up with the first overall pick in next year’s draft. That’s what happens when you’ve got a whole new coaching staff inheriting a team that only won four games last year, and won’t have their franchise quarterback until the second half of the season.
As such, this game will get billed as a trap game for the Cowboys, but it should wind up similarly to how they thrashed the Colts last year or the Falcons the year before. Not doing so would spark a lot of justified concern in Dallas.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 3-0
Week 4 vs New England Patriots
The last time these two teams met, it was an overtime thriller. It will be pretty hard to live up to that standard this time around, but it still promises to be a good game. The Patriots are always tough on defense, and their offense should see a bump in productivity now that they have a real offensive coordinator running things again.
This game will ultimately come down to which team’s new look offense is better, as both Dak Prescott and Mac Jones are trying to rebound from less-than-stellar 2022 campaigns. Smart money is on Prescott, the more proven player, being better.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 4-0
Week 5 at San Francisco 49ers
An early contender for the best matchup of the first half of the season, Cowboys/49ers Round 3 on Sunday Night Football will be exciting to watch. Looking at both teams’ schedules, it’s entirely possible they each enter this one undefeated, too.
Just like their last two playoff matchups, this should be another close one. But in the end, the 49ers are a more stable team right now despite their questions at quarterback. It’ll be close, but Dallas won’t be able to get revenge just yet.
Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 4-1
Week 6 at Los Angeles Chargers
The Cowboys stay on the West Coast for a week and get to face off against former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who now runs the offense for Justin Herbert and the Chargers. Herbert’s team reached the playoffs a year ago, but offensive inconsistency cost them in the end. Now, Moore hopes to fix that and turn the Chargers into legitimate contenders.
This will be another tough contest for the Cowboys, as Moore knows this team well enough to have an idea of how to attack Dan Quinn’s defense while the Chargers defense - led by Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack - is scary good. But after the disappointment of losing yet again to the 49ers, Dallas raises their level of play just enough this week.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 5-1
Week 7 BYE
The Cowboys’ bye week comes early this year, which means they’ll have to play 11 games in a row before even thinking about the playoffs.
Week 8 vs Los Angeles Rams
It’s difficult to know what to expect from the Rams this year, as their miserable 2022 season was largely due to injuries to all their star players. They’ve ditched some of those pieces now, while the likes of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald remain.
That’s enough talent to make this a trap game, especially the week before playing the Eagles. But McCarthy’s Cowboys have generally been good coming out of the bye, and just a year ago they dismantled the Rams a week before travelling to Philly. It might not be as big of a win this time around, but Dallas should come out on top regardless.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 6-1
Week 9 at Philadelphia Eagles
Last year, the Cowboys and Eagles never got to play each other at full strength: Prescott was out for the first game and Jalen Hurts was out for the next one. The hope is that both will be a full go for this one, and we’ll finally get to see these teams face off in an epic showdown.
The Eagles figure to be pretty good yet again, and they have one of the easiest schedules over the first half of the season, so this should be a matchup between two of the NFL’s top teams. It’ll be tough, and it’ll be close, but the home team gets a slight advantage here.
Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 6-2
Week 10 vs New York Giants
By this point in the season, the Giants should be more into a groove on offense than they were in Week 1. Either that or they’ll have realized they made a mistake in committing to Daniel Jones at quarterback. But odds are good that this rematch will end up looking like a pretty evenly matched game.
However, last year’s Cowboys team was notoriously tough coming off a loss, winning the following game by a combined score of 155-74. That doesn’t automatically mean Dallas wins after every loss, but it likely suggests they’ll be on their game for this divisional contest.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 7-2
Week 11 at Carolina Panthers
Of all the trap games out there, this one seems like the trappiest of them all. The Panthers very nearly made the playoffs last year with an interim head coach, and now they’ve solved their quarterback problem with Bryce Young. Oh, and Frank Reich is a darn good football coach.
Playing in a very weak division, Carolina may very well be in the playoff hunt by this time on the schedule. They certainly have the talent to pull off an upset like this, and the added motivation of fighting for a playoff spot could take it over the top. Expect a frustrating one in this game for Dallas.
Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 7-3
Week 12 vs Washington Commanders
After a frustrating road loss, the Cowboys will have just four days to prep for their Thanksgiving clash with the Commanders. By this point in the season, we’ll all have found out if Sam Howell is really franchise material and, perhaps more importantly, if new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is worth the hype.
Washington really isn’t that far off from being a good team, but they’re still not on the level of the Cowboys when all things are equal. And with Dallas coming off another loss, they’ll be eager to get back in the win column.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 8-3
Week 13 vs Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were a surprise team last year, and they doubled down on Geno Smith with a contract extension. Adding Jaxon Smith-Njigba into the mix should keep this offense efficient, but their defense is going to be the big question mark.
Just a week after both teams play on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys will be looking to stack some wins as they prepare for their rematch with the Eagles. Seattle won’t be an easy out, but their defense should make it easy for Prescott and the offense to work their magic.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 9-3
Week 14 vs Philadelphia Eagles
It’s rematch time, and the Cowboys get a mini-bye to prepare for their Sunday night battle with the Eagles. This game should end up being pivotal to the race for the NFC East crown, and maybe even the quest for the top seed in the conference.
Just like last time, this should be an intense and evenly matched game throughout, which means home-field advantage ends up being the deciding factor for the sake of this exercise.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 10-3
Week 15 at Buffalo Bills
Going for three for three in their home stretch gets the Cowboys to double-digit wins, and their reward is traveling to Buffalo in the middle of December to take on a Bills team that currently has the fourth best odds to win the Super Bowl. What a treat!
This game seems guaranteed to be covered in snow, which doesn’t bode well for the Cowboys. It was already tough enough because the Bills are a great team, but the weather conditions - even if there isn’t snow - make it a Herculean task.
Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 10-4
Week 16 at Miami Dolphins
The Cowboys escape the frozen tundra of Buffalo and head down to Miami, but it won’t be much of a reprieve aside from the weather. The Dolphins made the playoffs in their first year under head coach Mike McDaniel and are in a good spot to build on that this year.
This game also brings a chance at revenge over new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who verbally clashed with this team two years ago when his Broncos outclassed Dallas. This will be a tough one, especially with all of Miami’s offensive firepower, but the Cowboys find a way to gut out an ugly win.
Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 11-4
Week 17 vs Detroit Lions
Just like last year, the Lions enter the season with quite a bit of hype. This time, though, there’s more legitimacy behind it, as Detroit came so very close to making the playoffs last year and are now the betting favorite to win their division.
The Lions have also been stellar in the second half of the season under Dan Campbell, going 8-4 in December and January the last two seasons. McCarthy’s Cowboys are 9-3 over that same span, though, making this a very enticing matchup for Monday Night Football. It’ll be very, very close.
Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 11-5
Week 18 at Washington Commanders
The final week of the season is always toughest to predict, as some teams will be resting their starters while others will be making one final push for playoff seeding. It seems likely that the Cowboys will be in a similar spot as they were this time last year, needing a win but not desperately needing it.
Unlike last year, though, the Cowboys will be better prepared to win such a game and not roll out a ridiculously conservative game plan. That alone gives them better odds of winning this one and completing the sweep against the Commanders.
Prediction: Cowboys win, finish 12-5