Last July I looked at the Cowboys schedule and decided they would win the NFC East with a record of 12-4. Obviously they have already lost five games, so my prediction will not come true. But with the Cowboys last game having been played four days ago and the next one a week away, I thought it would be a good time to re-visit my pre-season predictions. My predictions from last July are below, followed by what really happened. I will revise my predictions for the last four games.
Game 1: Cowboys host the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. A talented and opportunistic Cowboys offense is way too much for a defense that that is so bereft of talent they rely on Dan Connor as their starting middle linebacker. The middle is open all day for the Cowboys tight ends and they take full advantage of it. The Cowboys defense plays strong as they defeat the Giants 31-21.
The Cowboys won 36-31 without their defense shutting down the Giants. They did prove to be opportunistic though in securing six takeaways that made the difference in the game.
Game 2: Cowboys travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. The Chiefs are revitalized under the leadership of Andy Reid, but don’t have his system down yet. As a result, the Cowboys defense holds the Chiefs to 10 points and win, 24-10.
The Chiefs took to Reid’s system pretty quickly and were much better than anyone thought they would be, beating the Cowboys 17-16.
Game 3: Cowboys host the St. Louis Rams and run wild. Even though the Rams coaches and system are not the same as when these two teams last met, the result is nearly the same as DeMarco Murray runs wild behind stellar run blocking by the offensive line. The Rams just don’t have enough talent on offense yet to challenge a Cowboys defense that seems to get better every week. Cowboys win 27-17.
The Cowboys did run wild on the Rams with running back DeMarco Murray having a big day and won bigger than I predicted, with the score 31-7.
Game 4: Cowboys travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers. The Chargers are a better team under new coaching, but it’s not good enough, as the Cowboys just squeak by to win 24-21.
The Chargers are a better team with new coaching and are still in the playoff race as I write this. They played better than I predicted against the Cowboys and won 30-21.
Game 5: The Denver Broncos come to Cowboys Stadium to take on the Cowboys. Peyton Manning has a great game and even with the new scheme on defense the Cowboys allow slot receiver Wes Welker to make enough plays for the Broncos to deliver the Cowboys first loss of the season and leave town with a 31-38 victory.
Manning did have a big game and the score was even higher than I predicted at 51-48. Cowboys lost as I predicted, but came much closer to winning than I thought they would.
Game 6: The Washington Redskins come for a visit. The Cowboys defense looks much better against the read option employed by Redskins quarterback RGIII, when they run it. The Redskins use this scheme on offense much less as an attempt to protect their talented quarterback from injury. The Cowboys offense has a big day but the Redskins score too. Cowboys win 28-24.
The Redskins did use the read run scheme much less, as I predicted. But the game was nowhere near as close as I predicted with the Cowboys winning 31-16.
Game 7: Cowboys travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. Head coach Chip Kelly’s new offense is starting to take hold and they have a big day against a confused Dallas defense. Eagles win 31-27.
Boy was I wrong on this one. The Cowboys hold the much vaunted Eagles offense to 3 points as the Cowboys win 17-3.
Game 8: Cowboys visit the Lions in Detroit. Detroit has one playmaker on offense, wide receiver Calvin Johnson. There is too much speed and talent on the Dallas defense as Johnson struggles to make plays. The Cowboys offense has a big day running and passing. Cowboys win 34-18.
I underestimated the ability of the Lions to get the ball to their playmaker, as I also overestimated how good the Cowboys defense would be. The Cowboys allowed the Lions to pull off out a victory when their defense couldn’t stop the Lions in the waning moments. Lions win 31-30.
Game 9: Cowboys host the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have lost more talent than they were able to replace. The Cowboys keep Adrian Peterson in check and win 38-21.
The Cowboys did keep Peterson in check, but the Vikings have a bigger day than expected passing the ball. Cowboys win it with a drive at the end, 27-23.
Game 10: Cowboys travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints. The Cowboys offense is way too talented to be held in check by a defense short on talent and headed by Rob Ryan. Confusion on defense and penalties for too many men on the field and big plays by the Cowboys with too few Saints defenders on the field leads to a big day on offense by the Cowboys. They win 27-18.
It was the Cowboys defense that ended up confused as the Saints jumped on them early and won 49-17.
Game 11: A refreshed, but sluggish, Cowboys team heads to New Jersey after the bye week to take on the Giants. After a slow start, the Cowboys come from behind to win 27-21.
This one was close to my prediction with the final score Cowboys 24, Giants 21.
Game 12: Cowboys return from New Jersey in a short week to take on the Oakland Raiders at Cowboys Stadium on Thanksgiving Day. An improved Raiders team is still a few players away from being able to compete with the Cowboys. Cowboys win 41-21.
The Raiders owned the first half and built a 21-7 lead over the Cowboys. Reality sets in as the Cowboys dominate the second half with a big day running the ball. Final score Cowboys 31, Raiders 24.
Game 13: Cowboys head to Chicago to play the Bears. Sometimes coaching changes make a team better, sometimes worse. The loss of Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli as Bears defensive coordinator, along with the loss of Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker makes this one a cake walk for the Cowboys offense. Cowboys win 37-22.
The question is will Bears quarterback Jay Cutler return from injury to play in this one? I am betting that if he does, he’s a bit rusty. Cowboys will win 24-18.
Game 14: The Green Bay Packers come to town to take on the Cowboys. This is not the Brett Favre Packers that couldn’t win in Dallas. Aaron Rogers has a big day with precision passing that leaves the Cowboys corners a step away all day. Packers win 34-28.
See above about the Bears, but change the name of Jay Cutler to Aaron Rogers. Cowboys win at home, 24-21.
Game 15: Cowboys head to the DC area for their second game against the Redskins. A desperate Redskins team trying to keep wild card hopes alive open up RGIII with much more read option offense than they have used all year. It’s just enough as the Redskins beat the Cowboys 31-28 at home.
Wrong. The Redskins are not contending for a wild card. Results are much the same as the first game between these two. Cowboys win 28-19.
Game 16: The Eagles come to Arlington to close out the season against the Cowboys. This time the Cowboys have the Eagles offense figured out and injuries to the Eagles defense makes it a long day for them. Cowboys win 34-18.
The Cowboys record is 10-5 and the Eagles come into town with a 9-6 record. Cowboys own the all the tiebreakers against the Eagles and use this opportunity to rest players for the playoff game scheduled for the following weekend. Eagles win 28-24 and go home. Cowboys go to the playoffs!