Way-too-early prediction of 2013 Cowboys

BY foxsports • April 18, 2013

The 2013 NFL schedule was released Thursday night and the early part looks like it could be favorable for the Dallas Cowboys. But will they make the playoffs?
Here's my way-too-early prediction of how things could unfold for a Cowboys team that has finished 8-8 the previous two seasons and hasn't ended the year with a winning record since 2009.
Sept. 8 vs. New York Giants: Win. The Cowboys are 2-6 in their last eight against the Giants, but like last year, Dallas opens the season with a victory over New York. Tony Romo proves for at least one week that he's worth his new deal, tossing a pair of touchdowns to Dez Bryant and a third to James Hanna.
Sept. 15 at Kansas City Chiefs: Win. Andy Reid is familiar with the Cowboys from his many years leading the Eagles, but Jason Garrett's club has more talent and they win a nail-bitter. The victory allows Garrett to improve to 4-3 against Reid as a head coach.
Sept. 22 vs. St. Louis Rams: Win.
DeMarco Murray should be pumped for this one. Last time the Cowboys faced the Rams, Murray ran for 253 yards, setting a new single-game franchise rushing record and leading Dallas to a 34-7 victory. This one's closer and Murray doesn't finish with half as many yards as the previous meeting.
Sept. 29 at San Diego Chargers: Loss. The three-game win streak is ended. This one comes down to which quarterback makes less mistakes. Philip Rivers wins out as Romo tosses a pair of costly interceptions while the Cowboys are attempting to rally.
Oct. 6 vs. Denver Broncos:Loss. Peyton Manning is firing on all cylinders and not even abnormally loud Cowboys Stadium can mess with the chemistry between him and Wes Welker on this day.
Oct. 13 vs. Washington Redskins: Win. Robert Griffin III isn't close to being 100 percent and Kirk Cousins gets the start. Without the dynamic RG3 working his magic, the Cowboys defense keys on Alfred Morris and prevents him from going off like he did in the 2012 regular season finale.
Oct. 20 at Philadelphia Eagles: Loss. Monte Kiffin takes the blame for this one. The 73-year-old's defense looks overwhelmed against Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Chip Kelly's high-powered offense.
Oct. 27 at Detroit Lions: Loss.
This is different than the Oct. 2011 game when Dallas built a 27-3 lead early in the second half before Detroit rallied for the victory. This time, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley set the tone, embarrassing the Cowboys' porous offensive line by sacking Romo six times.
Nov. 3 vs. Minnesota Vikings: Win. Christian Ponder is picked three times, once each by Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Barry Church. DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and the guys up front don't shut down Adrian Peterson but they also don't let him single-handedly get the victory.
Nov. 10 at New Orleans Saints: Loss.
Sunday night football in the Superdome is not where an opponent wants to be in 2013. Sean Payton has the Saints offense firing on all cylinders and it's too much for the Cowboys. It's not a blowout, though. Romo does a good job of battling but the game unfolds similar to the 2012 loss in Atlanta.
Nov. 24 at New York Giants: Loss. Coming off the bye week, the Cowboys know they need a win to pull even with the Giants for the division lead. But they fail to get the job done. Jason Pierre-Paul and Co. wreck havoc like it's 2011 all over again, sacking Romo six times.
Nov. 28 vs. Oakland Raiders: Win. Just to toy with the emotions of their fans, the Cowboys win, pulling them back to .500 and keeping the door open for a possible Wild Card playoff berth.
Dec. 9 at Chicago Bears: Loss. Romo doesn't throw the five interceptions he did last season against the Bears on Monday night but Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall get the best of Dallas, again.
Dec. 15 vs. Green Bay Packers: Loss. These two teams have something in common: both were hit hard by the injury bug in 2012. Both bounce back but Aaron Rodgers is the difference as he eventually wins MVP for the second time in three seasons.
Dec. 22 at Washington Redskins: Loss. Robert Griffin III has been back for three games and appears to be recapturing his 2012 form. It becomes evident that the Cowboys will finish under .500 and miss the postseason for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Dec. 29 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Win. The Kiffin defense has adjusted and it helps that Vick has lost the starting quarterback job to Nick Foles. Kelly's offense isn't the same without a mobile quarterback.
There you have it, after starting 4-2 the Cowboys take a step back from the previous two seasons and finish 7-9.

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota

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