Predicting how the Cowboys will fare in 2014
There’s still a draft, OTAs, mini-camp, training camp and more than four months before the Dallas Cowboys’ 2014 regular season gets underway, but it’s never too early to have a little fun. The NFL schedule was released Wednesday night and the Cowboys have plenty of intriguing matchups. So, how will they do? Here’s a way too early projection.
Week 1 vs. 49ers: LOSS. The Niners have won 36 games over the last three years, and that doesn’t include the playoffs. They’re still one of the top teams in the league. I feel very comfortable going with San Francisco here.
Week 2 at Titans: WIN. The Cowboys need to bounce back and Tennessee is the perfect opponent. The Titans went 3-5 at home last season and they no longer have three-time Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson, who signed with the Jets earlier this month.
Week 3 at Rams: WIN. St. Louis hasn’t had a winning season since 2003. This just seems like the type of game the Cowboys win, getting fans pumped that they’re on the right track at 2-1. Former first-round pick Sam Bradford is still recovering from the ACL surgery he had six months ago.
Week 4 vs. Saints: LOSS. After watching the Saints convert an NFL record 40 first downs during a 49-17 blowout of the Cowboys last November it’s difficult to pick anything but a loss here. The Cowboys have lost their last three against New Orleans dating back to 2010.
Week 5 vs. Texans: WIN. The Cowboys will win the battle of Texas. This could change depending on who ends up being Houston’s starting quarterback. Since that’s still a big question mark, I’m taking the Cowboys.
Week 6 at Seahawks: LOSS. The Super Bowl champs are very difficult to beat at home. They’ve only lost one game at CenturyLink Field over the last two seasons. I feel very comfortable picking the league’s best team.
Week 7 vs. Giants: WIN. Why not start division play with a victory? The Cowboys were 5-1 against NFC East opponents last season. I don’t think they’ll have as much success this year, but Tony Romo and Co. will get the best of the Giants in this one.
Week 8 vs. Redskins: LOSS. Robert Griffin III will be much better than he was last season. A healthy Griffin makes Washington a totally different team. RG3 had a long day last year at AT&T Stadium. I think this one will be closer to his rookie year when teh former Heisman Trophy winner threw four TD passes and posted a 131.8 QB rating.
Week 9 vs. Cardinals: WIN. The Cardinals had the best rushing defense in the league last year. Sorry, DeMarco Murray, but Romo, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will have to win this one. And I like the chances of that happening at home.
Week 10 at Jaguars (in London): WIN. The Cowboys will take advantage of one of the league’s worst teams. The most intriguing aspect of this game is the possibility of the Jaguars drafting Johnny Manziel and watching Johnny Football put on a show overseas. No doubt he’d be pumped about playing the team he grew up watching.
Week 12 at Giants: LOSS. The Cowboys are coming off their bye week, but I still like the Giants at home. Will Eli Manning repeat the terrible season he had last year? The two-time Super Bowl MVP threw a career-high 27 interceptions. Manning had arthroscopic ankle surgery on April 10, but I still think he bounces back like he did in 2011.
Week 13 vs. Eagles: WIN. It’s Thanksgiving Day, give me the Cowboys. The holiday crowd will be pumped about the chances of the Cowboys winning their seventh game and bouncing back from a tough loss in New Jersey the previous weekend.
Week 14 at Bears: LOSS. Until the Cowboys show me they can beat the Bears I’m not picking against Chicago. The Bears have won their last three against Dallas. Both teams will be coming off Thanksgiving Day games against division rivals.
Week 15 at Eagles: LOSS. The Eagles seemed to really start hitting their stride down the stretch last season. Year Two with Chip Kelly should make the Philly offense even more dangerous. I like the Eagles chances at repeating as NFC East champs.
Week 16 vs. Colts: LOSS. If the secondary doesn’t vastly improve from a year ago, Colts third-year QB Andrew Luck could make it a long day in Arlington. This one will be close, but I’m going with Luck making an impressive game-winning drive in the final minutes.
Week 17 at Redskins: WIN. Unlike the last three seasons, the Cowboys will close the year with a win. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they also won’t be playing for a playoff berth, finishing 8-8 for a fourth consecutive season.
Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota