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Predicting every game on the Cowboys’ 2023 schedule

How will the season end up?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After waiting so very patiently all offseason, fans are about to be rewarded with the start of the 2023 NFL regular season. Before things get under way, let’s take one last crack at predicting every game on the Cowboys’ schedule this year.

Week 1 at New York Giants

The Giants may have made the playoffs last year, but they ranked 21st in total team DVOA. The only playoff team ranked lower than them was the Vikings, who New York beat in the Wild Card round. Nevertheless, the Giants committed long term to Daniel Jones and spent money in the offseason to surround him with weapons.

That said, the Giants face an uphill battle to make the playoffs again, and Dak Prescott hasn’t lost to this team since his rookie year. Furthermore, Mike McCarthy is 9-3 against the Giants for his career, and there’s little to suggest he won’t pick up win number 10 to kick the season off.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 1-0

Week 2 vs New York Jets

Last year gave us the first showdown between McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers since the Cowboys coach left Green Bay, and it lived up to the hype. The Cowboys had a two-touchdown lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but Rodgers did what he does best and led a comeback effort to get the win in overtime.

Now, McCarthy gets a second chance at revenge by facing Rodgers’ new team, the Jets. But the Jets have a sneaky good defense, and Rodgers has a history of winning in AT&T Stadium, as well as ripping out the hearts of Cowboys fans everywhere. This should be a good game, but it’s hard to believe history won’t repeat itself.

Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 1-1

Week 3 at Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are widely expected to be the worst team in the NFL this year. They’ve got a rookie head coach, the youngest coaching staff in the league, and will be without Kyler Murray for at least part of the season. Barring a miracle, Murray definitely won’t be available for this game, and Arizona will likely still be adjusting to the new schemes.

There will inevitably be talk of this one being a trap game, and the unusual conditions of State Farm Stadium (see: Super Bowl) should add to that concern. Still, this should be a game the Cowboys easily win, and it will serve as an early barometer of just how seriously we should take this year’s team. If they struggle against the Cardinals, Dallas could be in for a rough season.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 2-1

Week 4 vs New England Patriots

For whatever reason, the Patriots are being slept on right now as the playoff contenders they truly are. Last year, Bill Belichick’s team finished 8-9 and ranked third in defensive DVOA. The offense, coordinated by lifelong defensive coach Matt Patricia, was terrible. But Patricia has been replaced by Bill O’Brien, an actual offensive coordinator with a good track record, so long as he’s not also working as the general manager.

Two years ago, these teams had an intense clash in Foxborough that ended with a Cowboys win in overtime. Both teams figure to be closer to their 2021 selves after working to upgrade their offenses this summer, making this a sneaky good game. For purposes of picking a winner, I’ll side with the better quarterback winning.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 3-1

Week 5 at San Francisco 49ers

Few games in the first half of the season, for any team, will carry as much hype as this one. That’s why it was scheduled for Sunday Night Football, after all. The 49ers have bounced the Cowboys from the playoffs in each of the last two years, and that storyline is sure to be mentioned as often as Dwight Clark and “The Catch” in the week leading up to this game.

The 49ers boast one of the best supporting casts on offense and an elite defense, but they have questions at quarterback this year. Brock Purdy tore his UCL in the playoffs, and Sam Darnold isn’t an exciting backup option. The 49ers are still sure bets to win lots of games, but give me the team with a more concrete answer at the most important position in football.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 4-1

Week 6 at Los Angeles Chargers

After failing to get revenge over Rodgers in Week 2, but succeeding in Week 5 against the 49ers, the Cowboys have a chance to go up in the revenge count when they run into Kellen Moore, now coordinating the offense for the Chargers. There aren’t any reports that Moore left on bad terms, but the Cowboys will naturally want to prove that they’re better off without him. Moore, now working with Justin Herbert, will naturally want to prove the opposite.

This game should end up being just as much of a nail biter as the last time these two clashed, back in 2021 when the Cowboys pulled away with a 20-17 victory. Let’s take another Cowboys victory on the theory that Dan Quinn with a defensive roster he knows well beats out Kellen Moore with an offensive roster he’s just getting to know. It should be close, though.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 5-1

Week 7 BYE

The Cowboys are 5-1, off to a great start, and get a bye week after a two game west coast road trip. Time to rest up and get ready for the rest of the season.

Week 8 vs Los Angeles Rams

If the Cowboys don’t fall into the trap of the Cardinals in Week 3, the fans will surely be terrified of the Rams in Week 8. Sean McVay had his first losing season ever last year, and the Rams didn’t really get any better. They’re projected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Playing that kind of team coming off a bye, though? And facing an always-dangerous coach like McVay? This is sure to be a classic trap game and yet another indicator of this team’s resolve. The Rams won’t be good in 2023, but they’ve got enough talent to make some teams sweat. Will the Cowboys end up sweating this one? Likely not.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 6-1

Week 9 at Philadelphia Eagles

Last year, the NFL was robbed of getting a matchup between these two teams with both starting quarterbacks suiting up and, hopefully, they’ll get just that this week. The Eagles emerged as the class of the NFC last year, but the Cowboys were on their heels all season long, narrowly falling short in the divisional race.

We’ve only ever seen Prescott v Hurts once, and it resulted in a 41-21 Cowboys win. But that was Hurts’ seventh career start, and well before he elevated his game the way he did last year. These teams are very evenly matched now, and it’s hard to really determine which way this early contest will tilt. Coin toss goes to the home team here.

Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 6-2

Week 10 vs New York Giants

Here comes the first rematch of the year for the Cowboys, facing the Giants again after knocking them off in Week 1. This time, the game is in Dallas, and the Cowboys will be looking to bounce back after losing to the Eagles.

The Giants should be playing better football by Week 10, after taking some time to adjust to all of their offseason additions and finding a better groove, so that makes this game a little closer than the season opener. Still, though, the Cowboys are the better team and Prescott has been money against them.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 7-2

Week 11 at Carolina Panthers

After the bounce-back game against the Giants, the Cowboys head on the road to face a Panthers team in their first year of a new regime, featuring head coach Frank Reich and rookie quarterback Bryce Young. Reich was able to turn the Colts around pretty quickly in his first few years, but faces a taller task in Carolina for his first year.

That said, the pieces are there. The Panthers had a really good defense a year ago, and Reich is easily the best offensive playcaller they’ve had in years. Young might be their best quarterback since Cam Newton, too. That makes them the type of team who can shock someone like the Cowboys, especially in front of a quick turnaround for a division rival game.

Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 7-3

Week 12 vs Washington Commanders

After the disappointing loss, the Cowboys will want to get right back on the field to atone, and they’ll pretty much do just that. Four days later, it’s the Thanksgiving game against the Washington Commanders. Led by quarterback Sam Howell, Washington should be at least somewhat better on offense than they were last year, and if the defense can maintain its high level of play, the Commanders might not be all that bad.

That makes for what should be a thrilling Thanksgiving contest. The Cowboys are the more talented team on paper, but Ron Rivera’s group has made a habit of rising up to the level of their opponents in games like this. It could come down to the final drive of the game, but expect the Cowboys to pull this one out and offer themselves a reprieve after losing a winnable game just days earlier.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 8-3

Week 13 vs Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks shocked the world last year with Geno Smith putting up the best year of his career and just sneaking his team into the playoffs with a 9-8 record. Now the question everyone has is if Smith and the Seahawks can repeat their special performance from a year ago.

While that remains to be seen, Smith will certainly have a hard time against the Cowboys’ fearsome pass rush. And a Seattle defense that ranked 22nd in DVOA a year ago, without major additions in the offseason, should struggle against Prescott and an offense that will (hopefully) be humming along.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 9-3

Week 14 vs Philadelphia Eagles

After two straight wins, one of them coming against a division rival, the Cowboys get a mini bye week before their Sunday Night Football rematch with the Eagles. This time, it’s in Dallas, and with this game coming at the start of December it could have major implications for the NFC East title race.

The Cowboys have been very good in the month of December since McCarthy became the head coach, with an 11-2 record to show for it. That’s been a common occurrence for McCarthy, who was 35-17 in December with the Packers as well. Doing so against the Eagles won’t be easy, but McCarthy’s track record in December can’t be ignored.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 10-3

Week 15 at Buffalo Bills

Following a pivotal win over the Eagles, which should put the Cowboys in the drivers seat for the division, the road doesn’t get any easier. Facing the Bills, who boast an explosive offense and talented defense, is never an easy proposition but visiting Buffalo in the middle of December makes it all the harder.

The field could very well be covered in snow for this one. Couple that with Prescott’s poor track record in cold weather games, and this one seems like it could prove too much for the Cowboys to handle.

Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 10-4

Week 16 at Miami Dolphins

The Cowboys escape the harsh cold of Buffalo for the sunny shores of Miami, but the Dolphins aren’t an easy team to beat. Mike McDaniel took this team to the playoffs in his first year as the head coach despite having three different starting quarterbacks, and he looks poised for another successful year.

A big talking point in this one will be new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who brought trouble to the Cowboys’ high flying offense during the 2021 season and also exchanged words with McCarthy. That will add some extra motivation to this game, on top of the Cowboys hoping to earn a win over a quality team following their loss to Buffalo.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 11-4

Week 17 vs Detroit Lions

The Cowboys return home after their brief road trip and host the Lions, whose preseason hype has yet to plateau. Head coach Dan Campbell has built a good team in Detroit and the Lions offense was stellar last year, although they struggled in Dallas early in the year.

This time around, it should be a lot closer. Not only are the Lions a more complete team than they were a year ago, Campbell has his own winning track record in December to match McCarthy’s, going 5-3 in his two seasons on the job. This one should be appointment television, but the Lions pull things out by a razor’s edge.

Prediction: Cowboys lose, drop to 11-5

Week 18 at Washington Commanders

The final game of the year is always hard to predict, since some teams will rest their starters or, in the case of last year’s Cowboys, play their starters but not really fully compete. But if the Cowboys are 11-5 coming into this game, they could very well be jostling with the Eagles for the NFC East title and even fighting for seeding in the conference. So we’ll assume Dallas pulls out all the stops in this game.

The Commanders, on the other hand, could very well be fighting for a Wild Card spot by this point. They’ve got a brutal final month on the schedule, so it could be a longshot, but they’ll be giving it everything they’ve got in from of the home crowd. Regardless, Dallas should be able to emerge victorious with a clear talent advantage over the Commanders, potentially extinguishing their opponent’s playoff hopes while simultaneously boosting their own.

Prediction: Cowboys win, improve to 12-5

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