Dallas Cowboys: 2017 Pre NFL Draft Record Prediction

Sep 25, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) takes the field with running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys led the NFC last season, finishing with a 13-3 record.  How will they fair in 2017 under the leadership of Dak Prescott?

It seems as though everywhere you look on the internet you’ll find an article or video explaining why the Dallas Cowboys won’t find success in 2017. I’ve read all the so-called “reasons”, and I find it to be a bunch of baloney.

Let’s start with Heath Evans from NFL Network. Heath thinks the Dallas Cowboys are going to go 8-8. Then we’ve got ESPN’s pundits, Louis Riddick and Jerome Bettis, who seemed very happy to predict a 9-7 season.

And don’t even get me started on Stephen A. Smith. For a man who makes his living hating on the Cowboys, he upped his ante this team. Even going as far as to suggest that Dallas would deflate footballs to prevent Ezekiel Elliott from fumbling.

I mean, come on. It’s the Dallas Cowboys — not Tom Brady.

Cheap shots at Brady aside, the Cowboys are getting some very unfair treatment from most of the “experts” on TV. Coming off a 13-3 season, the best record in the NFC, you’d think the football world would have some confidence in the them.

The Dallas Cowboys have so much going for them heading into 2017. Dak Prescott will be entering his second year in the NFL, after being named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year last season. In fact, the offensive depth shouldn’t change at all with the exception of left guard.

So, let’s take a moment, breathe, and predict the Dallas Cowboys 2017 record, taking into account that they were one of the best teams in football last season.

Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. New York won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1: vs. New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys welcome their arch-nemesis from the northeast to open the season. The New York Giants come to town for a Sunday night showdown that should come down to the wire.  Let’s just face the facts here: the Cowboys and Giants always play each other close.

In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to 2014 to find a game between these clubs that was decided by more than a touchdown.

The strengths of these two teams remain largely unchanged. The Dallas Cowboys bring their dominant run game and superior offense. The Giants flex their mighty defense and imposing defensive line.

However, the G-Men boast a major addition on offense.  After signing ex-Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Giants look to have an upgraded aerial attack. Couple that with a Cowboys secondary that saw three starters flee town and you have a recipe for trouble.

But the New York football Giants have an Achilles’ heel of their own. They lost one of their best run-stuffing defensive tackles, Johnathan Hankins, to the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. That should give Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys rushing attack some breathing room come September.

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this game, and it likely could go either way. But, the third time is the charm, and Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will be looking to avenge their early exit from the 2017 playoffs.

Prediction: Cowboys: 24, Giants: 21 (W)

Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley (11) runs after a reception against Denver Broncos cornerback Tony Carter (32) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2: at Denver Broncos

The Dallas Cowboys face an early road test in 2017, heading to Denver, Colorado for Week w of the season. These teams haven’t met in forever.  In fact, the last time they met, Peyton Manning and Tony Romo were both active quarterbacks. Boy that feels weird to type.

The 2017 installment of this matchup should feature few similarities with the 2013 version, given the 51-48 score thanks to excellent gun slinging on the part of the retired quarterback duo. No, in 2017 this should be a very low scoring game. The Cowboys offense will struggle against an outstanding Denver defense. The Denver offense will struggle without a clear starting quarterback.

The silver lining for the Dallas Cowboys is Denver’s run defense. Every fan of the Cowboys knows that the run game travels very well. In this case, it travels to a team that allowed over 130 yards per game on the ground last season. Training camp hasn’t even opened yet and Zeke is already  begging to be fed in this game.

There is something to be said for the old adage that defense wins championships. Luckily for the Cowboys, Week 2 of the regular season isn’t a championship. So, offense wins the game, and Dallas advances to 2-0.

Prediction: Cowboys: 28, Broncos: 14 (W)

Nov 2, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is hit as he throws by Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (98) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Week 3: at Arizona Cardinals

A week after returning home from a mile above sea level, the Dallas Cowboys make their way out to the desert for some good old Monday Night Football. This is a game I circled on my calendar when the schedule came out, as I think it has the potential to be a thriller.

Not only will this game be a good test for the Cowboys new look defense, but it should be a good indication of their offenses ability as well. The Cardinals should be the first team where both units (offense and defense) are good but not great. With the Cowboys previous two opponents, one side of the ball was vastly superior to the other. The Cardinals are a very well balanced team.

This game should ultimately come down to two matchups. The first is a battle between of the NFL’s most dynamic young runners, David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott. Their individual success (or lack thereof) will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.

The other comes down to Dez Bryant vs. Patrick Peterson. One might be the NFL’s best 50/50 ball wide receiver, but the other is a true shutdown corner. In fact, this will be Bryant’s third-straight game against one of the NFL’s best corners.

Both will be trying to prove that they belong among the elite at their position. Bryant beating Peterson would allow the Cowboys to unlock their dynamic offense, whilst Pat locking down Dez makes the Cowboys one dimensional.

This game should be very close, and as much as I want to pick the Cowboys, my gut is telling me they take their first loss of the season.

Prediction: Cowboys: 28, Cardinals: 31 (L)

Aug 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Week 4: vs. Los Angeles Rams

The prodigal son is born.  For those who don’t remember, Dak Prescott made his NFL debut against the Los Angeles Rams. Dak played very well back in that game, and I’d expect him to play well again. Especially after the loss in the previous week, he’ll be looking to bounce back.

The Los Angles Rams are still very much in rebuilding mode. Outside of third-year running back Todd Gurley, they lack playmakers on either side of the ball. On defense, the Rams have Trumaine Johnson, who is a serviceable to above-average corner. He will clearly be a step down in competition for Dez Bryant, who should feast given his first soft secondary.

Jared Goff, the number one oerall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, will be entering his first season as the unquestioned starter.  He didn’t show anything in his rookie year that makes me think he’ll pose a threat to the Cowboys next year.

This looks to be a tune-up game, and a solid confidence booster after a loss the week before. I’m not suggesting that the Rams can be overlooked. But this team shouldn’t be a challenge to one of the NFC’s premiere teams. The Dallas Cowboys grab their third win of the season while gearing up for the biggest revenge game on their docket.

Prediction: Cowboys: 31, Rams: 17 (W)

Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws in the pocket against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5: vs. Green Bay Packers

He’s a bad man, and the Dallas Cowboys welcome him to AT&T Stadium in Week 5. Aaron Rodgers and Company will pay Dallas a visit for a rematch to the 2017 Divisional Round Playoff Game that became an instant classic.

The Cowboys ultimately lost at the last minute, but it was still an excellent game. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will be hungry to avenge the only playoff loss of their pro careers. This should be a very good game. To be honest, I’m amazed it isn’t being shown in primetime.

Nothing has really changed about the Packers offense. Except Jared Cook, the man who made one of the best catches of the 2016 season to set up the Packers game-winning field goal, has skipped town.

Cowboys fans, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Just kidding. Because the Green Bay Packers replaced him Martellus Bennett, who became a favorite target of Tom Brady during his stint with the New England Patriots. The Dallas defense will have their hands full once again, and will surely have to rely on the offense to control the clock and pile on points.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Cowboys pull this one off, poetically with a last-minute field goal from Dan Bailey. They avenge their playoff loss from last season and head into their bye week with a hard fought victory.

Prediction: Cowboys: 34, Packers: 31 (W)

October 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 7: at San Francisco 49ers

The Dallas Cowboys head to Levi’s Stadium for the second consecutive season the take on the San Francisco 49ers. Much like the Los Angeles Rams, this is a team that is rebuild mode as well. Last year, the Cowboys and 49ers played each other close in the first half, with Dallas eventually winning by a score of 28-14. Dak Prescott had his first multi-touchdown game, and Zeke posted the fourth highest rushing total of his career.

In 2017, the Cowboys should field a more talented roster top to bottom than San Francisco when this game rolls around. The 49ers are a collection of NFL cast-offs and journeymen. As it stands right now, Brian Hoyer is poised to be their quarterback on opening day. Their secondary lacks splash players and their offense lacks difference makers. The Cowboys shouldn’t have a hard time finding holes to exploit.

Ezekiel Elliott should feast once again, and Dak Prescott and the air attack should flourish against a weak secondary. The Dallas defense should also be able to prey on a sub-par quarterback, be it Brian Hoyer or a rookie.

Either way, Dallas gets back on track with a tune up after their BYE week and is prepared for their upcoming gauntlet.

Prediction: Cowboys: 28, 49ers: 10 (W)

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) carries the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8: at Washington Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys head to our nation’s capital for their first game against the rival Washington Redskins. This one is full of storylines.

First up, we’ll get to see Dez Bryant vs. Josh Norman, which always turns into a show of its own. The two are some of the best at their respective positions, and both have been known to get emotional during a game.

Next on the list is a reunion with ex-Cowboys defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After leaving Big D for more money in DC, McClain will now have to face the league’s best offensive line twice a year. I for one am interested to see how that pans out for him.

On offense, the Redskins lost their top two wide receivers, and will be relying upon the likes of Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson to lead their aerial attack. At this point its safe to assume that Kirk Cousins will be the Redskins starting quarterback in 2017, which could pose problems for the Cowboys. Cousins has always performed well against his Texas rivals, and with a weaker secondary, he may just up the ante.

Call this one a gut feeling. Last season the Cowboys swept the Redskins, and they make it three in a row with this game, increasing their win streak to four games.

Prediction: Cowboys: 24, Redskins, 17 (W)

Jan 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Week 9: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Dallas Cowboys welcome perhaps their greatest test thus far in the season to Texas when the Kansas City Chiefs roll into town. Some people aren’t as big on the Chiefs as I am, but I think they are one of the NFL’s most dangerous teams.

The Chiefs defense is oustanding. They rely upon an imposing pass rush to force bad throws into a ball-hawking secondary. Marcus Peters and Eric Berry lead the charge, combining for 10 interceptions just last season alone.

The Chiefs also have one of the best game-managing quarterbacks in the NFL. Alex Smith is very careful with the football, and like Dak Prescott, doesn’t turn it over very often. He has some weapons to work with as well, with the Kansas City offense featuring tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Dallas should be able to have some success running the ball here, but I worry about the success of the passing game. Marcus Peters is excellent at baiting quarterbacks into bad throws, and I fear Dak could fall into that trap once or twice.

I’m worried about the Cowboys chances in this game, especially as they’ll be coming off a tough divisional road game. The win streak ends at four and the Cowboys take their second loss of 2017.

Prediction: Cowboys: 17, Chiefs: 28 (L)

Record midway through the season: 6-2

Sep 27, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Week 10: at Atlanta Falcons

Finally. The Dallas Cowboys take on the Super Bowl runner-ups, the Atlanta Falcons. A lot of folks seem to be worried about this game, and rightfully so. The reigning MVP of the league is no joke. And neither is favorite target, Julio Jones.

The secondary will certainly have their hands full again with Matt Ryan. Besides Julio Jones, the Falcons can also beat you with speedster Taylor Gabriel, or with either of their two talented running backs, DeVonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Oh, and the Falcons have the reigning sack champion as well. Last season Vic Beasley, Jr. racked up 15.5 sacks. So, Dallas’ offensive line should have their hands full too.

However, Dallas has some weapons of their own. I would put Dez Bryant in the conversation with Julio Jones for the league’s best receiver. I’d take Ezekiel Elliott over either of the Falcons backs, and I think Dak Prescott is a better quarterback than Matt Ryan.

I said it. Dak Prescott is better than the reigning MVP. At least, he will be in 2017.

This is probably going to be one of the most exciting games of the NFL’s 2017 season. I’d go so far as to compare it to the 2016 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Dallas Cowboys show the rest of the league they mean business by defeating the Atlanta Falcons, who are attempting to make it back to the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Cowboys: 34, Falcons: 21 (W)

Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA;Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) catches a touchdown pass against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll (22) in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Dallas Cowboys won 29-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles are becoming one of the best rivalries in the NFC East. Both teams had successful rookie quarterbacks just a season ago, and the rivalry should only become stronger as both young guns improve. Dak Prescott won the first matchup between the two teams, with Carson Wentz taking the second (thanks to Dallas resting their starters).

A lot has changed from a season ago, however. The Eagles have added a weapon on the outside for Carson Wentz, signing former Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery in free agency. The Cowboys also poached Nolan Carroll from the City of Brotherly Love.

The NFL was gracious enough to schedule this game on a Sunday night, as it is sure to draw huge ratings.

Of the past three meetings between these two teams, two games have gone to overtime. The other was a meaningless game in which the Cowboys had clinched the number one seed and the Eagles had been eliminated.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this game took an extra quarter to decide as well. In the end, the better team will prevail and Dallas will make it two straight wins against bird-inspired teams.

Prediction: Cowboys: 28, Eagles: 24 (W)

Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) celebrates after a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in a preseason NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Turkey Day, my favorite day of the year for Dallas Cowboys football, besides the first Sunday of February of course. To mark this special occasion, CBS will be broadcasting the game. Coincidence? I think not. While this will be Tony Romo’s second game covering his former team, I love that the NFL scheduled it on Thanksgiving.

The Los Angeles Chargers are the under the radar team on the schedule that will give the Cowboys a serious run for their money. Philip Rivers is a great quarterback who has lacked an equally talented supporting cast for years.

He’s finally starting to get that with playmakers emerging on both sides of the ball. Running back Melvin Gordon was a touchdown machine last season, and second year defensive end Joey Bosa will look to build upon his Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Don’t forget about second year tight end Hunter Henry either. The Chargers are a dangerous team and should not be overlooked.

Coming off a stretch of three very tough games, and operating on only three days rest, the Cowboys get upset on Thanksgiving, heading home with nothing but empty stomachs to show for their efforts.

Prediction: Cowboys: 24, Chargers: 27 (L)

Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is tackled by Washington Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller (38) during the game at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys defeat the Redskins 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Week 13: vs. Washington Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys get a little lucky here with the second of two meetings against the Washington Redskins. First, they get a full week of rest after their Thanksgiving Day game against the Chargers.

Second, the Redskins play the night game on Thanksgiving and then have to travel to Texas the following Thursday. Therefore, they’ll be operating on a shorter week with less rest than the Cowboys.

Since this is a Thursday Night Football game, we all get the pleasure of witnessing the Redskins color rush uniforms. If you thought the Washington Redskins were ugly before, I suggest you look at their color rush jerseys.

Joking aside, at this point in the season, the contenders are being separated from the pretenders. The Cowboys are proving themselves a contender, whereas the Redskins are beginning to fall behind without their strong wide receiver corps from a year ago.

With the Cowboys offense in full gear, Dak, Zeke and Dez light up the scoreboard and put the Redskins to bed on Thursday night. Dallas needs to get back in the win column after dropping a game on Thanksgiving, and thanks to being more rested and a better team, they do.

Prediction: Cowboys: 35, Redskins: 21 (W)

Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) greets Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during warmups before a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Week 14: at New York Giants

Back to back NFC East games are always fun, especially in December when the playoff race is in full swing. When the Dallas Cowboys visit the Meadowlands, both teams are in the playoff hunt and the NFC East is still wide open.

Unlike the first time these two teams met, this game will take place in the cold, frigid, air of New York. Gone are the climate controlled luxuries of three straight games in AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys must brave the elements if they want to get the W here.

Last season, the New York Giants only lost one game at home. A quick glance at Eli Manning’s career stats also reveals that he prefers playing on his home turf. Not to mention, Dak’s worst game was against the Giants in the cold last year.

With only three games to go after this contest, the Giants need the win more than the Cowboys do. They’re the hungrier team, and the home team, and the team that is used to playing in the cold. Call it a wake up call, but the Cowboys walk away from this one in shock from the cold and their loss.

Prediction: Cowboys: 10, Giants: 14 (L)

Oct 30, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15: at Oakland Raiders

The Dallas Cowboys head to Oakland to play some Sunday Night Football against the Raiders. This will also be the last NFL game in Oakland, as the Raiders finish out their season on the road and move to Las Vegas in 2018.

This is another one of those games that I circled as soon as the schedule came out. The Raiders offense and defense are both very good, and this should be an excellent test for the Cowboys before the playoffs start.

On defense, the Raiders boast reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack, who has notched 10.0+ sacks two seasons in a row. On offense, they threaten you with Derek Carr and his favorite targets Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Plus, the Raiders signed the Cowboy killer himself, Jared Cook this offseason. However, the Raiders secondary is very average, and Dak Prescott will take full advantage of this. Their run defense is even worse, ranking 23rd last season. Ezekiel Elliott will surely get in on the fun.

I’m also going to predict big games from ex-Raiders Brice Butler and Benson Mayowa. With only three games left, teams have to make the most out of every one. The Dallas Cowboys do exactly that, spoiling the Raiders farewell party and leaving with a win.

Prediction: Cowboys: 34, Raiders: 17 (W)

Nov 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs the ball after making a catch against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16: vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Dallas Cowboys draw another tough opponent in the Seattle Seahawks. Assuming the injury bug doesn’t bite them again, the Seahawks should be one of the biggest threats to the Cowboys NFC supremacy.

The Legion of Boom is not to be messed with and this will easily be the best secondary Dak Prescott will have faced in his professional career. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman are all some of the best at their respective positions.

If there is a way to beat the Seahawks though, it’s with a strong run game, as we saw in 2014 when the Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray led Cowboys shocked the world upsetting the reigning Super Bowl Champions.

We also know that Ezekiel Elliott isn’t scared of the so-called “Legion of Boom” either. See Week 3, 2016 preseason for evidence of this.

In all likelihood, winning this game should clinch Dallas a first-round bye. The Seahawks will not go down easily, as they’ll also be fighting for a playoff spot or a first round bye. However, I’m not one to bet against Dallas. The Cowboys take this game on the back (or legs?) of Ezekiel Elliott and the Great Wall of Dallas.

Prediction: Cowboys: 17, Seahawks: 14 (W)

Jan 1, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) talks to his team in the huddle against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17: at Philadelphia Eagles

Last year, when the Dallas Cowboys closed their season in Philadelphia, the starters were on the field so little that if you blinked you might have missed them. That won’t be the case this year, and Jason Garrett will be looking to keep his squad sharp for the playoffs.

Dak Prescott will play well into the third quarter, and Ezekiel Elliott will get at least half of the teams touches. The defensive starters (minus perhaps Sean Lee) will play nearly the entire game.

I’m predicting that Philadelphia will need a win in this game to qualify for the playoffs, so the Cowboys get to play spoiler. They end their season on a good night and head into the playoffs strong.

Prediction: Cowboys: 42, Eagles: 21 (W)

Final Record: 12-4

The Dallas Cowboys don’t quite match their impressive 2016 record, but they do qualify for the playoffs and earn a first round bye. Plus, this would make it the third time in four seasons that the Cowboys attained at least twelve wins.

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