The smell of football is in the air. It’s palpable, and walking down the street I see more football memorabilia every day. The Cowboys opened up full-team training camp on Monday, and today is the first padded practice, per the new CBA rules. In the future, look to see the CBA changed to start training camp from a per-determined amount of time from a team’s first regular season game, not from the first preseason game. This will put all teams on equal footing for the first week of the regular season. The amount of preparation that goes into a preseason game is not nearly as important as team’s having equal amounts of time for the first regular season game. This year, the disadvantage of the current system is on our Dallas Cowboys, as the Giants opened up training camp several days ahead, thus giving them a 4-day head start on the season.
This is the last installment of the 2012 season predictions. Will our Cowboys solidify a spot in the playoffs with 1 more win? Or can the Cowboys managed three more wins to secure the top spot in the NFC? Keep reading to find out.
December 9, Cowboys @ Bengals
Last year, lead by rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Bengals went to the playoffs. This year, the ‘Red Rocket’ has another year under his belt and will be ready to face the Cowboys prolific pass defense. Without Cedric Benson pounding away on the ground, Andy Dalton will be relied on heavily. The poor guy doesn’t even know what is coming as Tyrone Crawford has his coming out party. Paired on the same side as DeMarcus Ware, the Bengals don’t have the talent to match the weakside rush. Paired with the strong side pass rush of Spencer and Lissemore, Dalton is thrown around like a red-headed step child. As dominant as the defense is, A.J. Green is good and looks to be the next BIG thing. Victory for the Cowboys is sealed on a Dan Bailey kick late in the 4th quarter, edging the Cowboys 24-21.
December 16, Cowboys Vs Steelers
One of the best rivalries for the ages, the Cowboys play the Steelers. The Barger curse is in full effect, however, and Romo can’t seem to get on the same page with anyone. (Background; I have been to three Cowboys games, 1) Eagles @ Cowboys, 2007, win Jessica Simpson appeared for the first time. 2) Giants @ Cowboys, opening night at Cowboys Stadium, and 3) Lions @ Cowboys, where Romo had his epic 2nd half collapse. I have the worst luck with Cowboys games, and this is one I will be in attendance. It only seems fitting that the curse continues) The Steelers aren’t much this year, but the defense still packs a wallop and Mr. Head & Shoulders himself is all over the field. Defensively, the Cowboys more than hold their ground, but in the end Big Ben makes more plays than Romo and the Cowboys lose to the Steelers, 17-10.
December 23, Cowboys Vs Saints
This is a showdown that everyone has been looking forward to since the beginning of the season. The last two times these teams met, there were epic struggles as DeMarcus Ware strip-sacked the Cowboys way into beating the unbeaten three years ago, and Roy Williams fumbled our way to a lose two years ago. Ware has 22.0 sacks on the year, and the entire game is licking his chops about bringing down the short in stature Brees. But, to the dismay of many Cowboys fans and himself, “Almost” Anthony Spencer lights up the sack board instead, racking up 3.5 sacks. This game is a shootout, even with Sean Payton suspended for the year. Romo shows why he is deserving of his Pro-Bowl nod, and is garnering serious support for the MVP of the League. With 36 TD’s and only 9 INT’s on the year, Romo is having a historical year with a 4:1 TD:INT ratio, almost unheard of. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Mike Jenkins have solidified themselves as the best corner back group in the league, but Brees is just too good to contain. The Cowboys lose against the Saints in a high flying offensive shootout; Saints 38 Cowboys 35. They have a chance to secure a first round bye with a record of 12-4 with a win next week.