Dallas Cowboys: Post-2017 NFL Draft record prediction

Dec 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during the game against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during the game against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2017 NFL Draft now in the rear view mirror, we now have a better idea of what teams will look like. Time to predict the Dallas Cowboys record.

The Dallas Cowboys rookie class is set in stone. So are the rookie classes of each of the opponents Dallas will face this offseason. Training camp has yet to happen, and a lot of rosters will change between now and then. Still, we have a good idea of what each 53-man roster might look like.

That means it’s time to update our Dallas Cowboys record predictions for the upcoming 2017 season. In my first attempt at predicting the outcome of the 2017 campaign, I had the Cowboys posting a 12-4 record. Given their tough schedule, that would be quite the feat.

But now we know that Dallas has added starting caliber players to fix their holes on defense. And their rivals have added menacing players as well; Jonathan Allen to Washington and Derek Barnett to the Eagles are just a few examples. The NFC East will certainly be a challenge this year.

Surviving their division will be one challenge, but the rest of their schedule remains tough. The Atlanta Falcons added several pieces to an already talented roster. Both the Packers and Seahawks look to be better than a year ago. This season is going to be fun.

Dec 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws out of his own end zone against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Weeks 1-4

The Dallas Cowboys open the season at home against the New York Giants in primetime. In recent years, it’d be foolish to expect anything less. Following that game, the Boys will embark on back to back road trips to visit the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals. In Week 4, they’ll get somewhat of a break with the Los Angeles Rams back in the comfort of AT&T Stadium.

The Giants are a team that got more dangerous through the draft. While many believe they drafted poorly, they did add a weapon and filled a big hole. “Tight end” Evan Engram (who is more of a big slot receiver) should give Eli Manning another dynamic weapon on offense. Plus the addition of Dalvin Tomlinson fills the Giants need for a run-stuffer after the departure of Johnathan Hankins. The Cardinals added a pass rusher as well, nabbing Hasson Reddick in the first round, and then later picking up a likely starter at safety, Budda Baker.

The Denver Broncos enlisted some help on the offensive line, drafting Garett Bolles in the first round. They also added an excellent tight end, Jake Butt, however there is virtually no chance he is ready to play by Week 2 when the Cowboys come to town. The Rams had a quiet draft, adding a few offensive weapons and some defensive pieces. They are still a team in almost full rebuild-mode.

I envision the Dallas Cowboys going 2-2 on this stretch of the schedule. One win will come against the Rams, and Dallas will find a way to pull out a win against one of the Giants, Broncos or Cardinals. But three tough teams in a row, with two on the road is a hard task. So Dallas takes two losses in the first quarter of the season as well.

Jan 15, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) makes a touchdown catch against Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter (36) in the NFC Divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Weeks 5-9

The Dallas Cowboys will kick off their second quarter of the season with a rematch against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. This one takes place in Dallas, and should be a great game. The Packers had a great draft, adding several instant impact players in their secondary, as well as restocking Rodgers’ tool box with new weapons.

Dallas gets their bye week in Week 6, then plays back to back road games against the 49ers and Redskins, and finishes the first half of their season at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. This should be another tough stretch on the 2017 schedule.

The 49ers added two blue-chip defenders in Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster. Throw in a few solid late-round picks and the 49ers could surprise some people this season. The Redskins had the steal of the draft, getting Jonathan Allen in the middle of the first round. Not to mention, they grabbed Ryan Anderson and Fabian Moreau in the top-100 as well.

The Chiefs were already a dangerous team heading into the draft, so they chose to address their future drafting Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. In addition, they added several players who should provide depth on both sides of the ball.

The Dallas Cowboys will go 3-1 through this quarter of the schedule. They will defeat both the Packers and Chiefs, and be surprised by either the Redskins or the 49ers. That puts them solidly at 5-3 halfway through the season.

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

Weeks 10-13

The third quarter of the season will likely be the easiest for the Dallas Cowboys. In no way will it be a cakewalk, but compared to the rest of it, they should get some relatively easier competition here.

They’ll kick this segment off with a tough road game against the Atlanta Falcons, who added more playmakers to an already dangerous defense and didn’t lose any key contributors on their elite offense. This game is likely a playoff matchup preview.

Then Dallas gets three consecutive home games against the Eagles, Chargers and Redskins. Their annual Thanksgiving game is against the Chargers, and will be carried by CBS (hello, Tony Romo!). The Eagles had a great draft, getting in my opinion, the best pass rusher in the draft not named Myles Garrett. They also scooped up Sidney Jones, and it’ll be interesting to see if he’s ready to play when the Eagles visit Dallas.

We’ve already talked about the Redskins, but the Chargers are a team that could surprise people too. Mike Williams gives Philip Rivers another outside threat. Plus, LA added several good offensive lineman that should pave the way for Melvin Gordon.

It’s hard to imagine Dallas going undefeated through this stretch, though I won’t rule it out. However, it’s more likely that they lose at least one game, especially considering they play two division rivals. The Cowboys go 3-1 through this stretch, too.

Aug 25, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks during a NFL football game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Cowboys 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Weeks 14-17

The Dallas Cowboys are 8-4 entering their final four games. This is where the real playoff push begins. And they will have to earn it, as every team they face down the stretch has a realistic chance to be fighting for a playoff spot as well.

They’ll kick things off against the Giants at MetLife Stadium, which should be a very tight game. Then, Dallas travel out west to Oakland to take on the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders added controversial cornerback Gareon Conley in the first round, followed with hyper-athletic safety Obi Melinfonwu in the second. Their secondary should be much improved over a year ago.

Then Dallas hosts Seattle, who added several defenders who should find playing time in rotation. The Seahawks are always a dangerous team, and that will be no different when they come to Dallas.

They’ll close out the season on the road against the Eagles. This year, that could turn in to a win-to-get-in game that was common in the NFC East between 2011-13. The Cowboys will push hard to get in to the playoffs, and finish 3-1. One of the road games will prove to be too much for the mighty Cowboys.

That puts the Dallas Cowboys at an 11-5 record for 2017. Though this a slight decrease in the win column from our previous prediction, it’s still a very respectable total. Dallas is still an elite team in the NFL, and should be thought of as such.

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