The Dallas Cowboys were America’s sweetheart last season as rookie backup quarterback, Dak Prescott, and first-year tailback, Ezekiel Elliott, led the team to a 13-3 mark, a division title, and the number one overall playoff seed. However, things will not be easy for the Cowboys as Elliott will presumably miss six games due to a suspension and the schedule gets tougher for a division winner (Packers and Falcons). Dallas heads West this year with road trips to Arizona, San Francisco, and Oakland as it plays both the NFC and AFC West Divisions. Still, with a healthy Dez Bryant and assuming Elliott comes back with a vengeance after suspension (see Tom Brady circa 2016), Dallas should make the playoffs again. Here is the Dallas Cowboys 2017 season simulation.
Week 1 (9/10) vs. New York Giants
The Cowboys catch a huge break with Elliott’s suspension. Zeke may serve his six-game suspension, but due to a technicality, he will play in the home opener. Expect Elliott to play like his hair is on fire. The Giants swept the season series in 2016, including a win Week 1 in Dallas, but this time the Cowboys get their revenge.
Result: Win 28-21 (1-0)
Week 2 (9/17) at Denver Broncos
Dallas has more weapons on offense, but Elliott theoretically begins his suspension and Denver’s defense is no joke. I figure this to be a low-scoring affair and give Denver the nod playing at home in the altitude.
Result: Loss 13-17 (1-1)
Week 3 (9/25) at Arizona Cardinals
Lots of people are high on the Cardinals this year but I’m not one of them. Carson Palmer is not going to get better at this point in his career and Larry Fitzgerald is a year older. David Johnson is coming off a knee injury. Their defense is good, but not good enough as the ‘Boys take this one in the desert on Monday Night Football.
Result: Win 21-20 (2-1)
Week 4 (10/1) vs. Los Angeles Rams
Second-year quarterback Jared Goff has a young and innovative coach in Sean McVay that he will make progress with after a disappointing rookie campaign. Todd Gurley should bounce back from his own lackluster 2016 season. The Rams will be better, but they’re not at the Cowboys level yet.
Result: Win 31-17 (3-1)
Week 5 (10/8) vs. Green Bay Packers
A rematch of last year’s epic NFC Divisional round playoff game. The most suspect part of this Cowboys team is the secondary and they’re going against probably the best quarterback in football, Aaron Rodgers. Packers in a shootout.
Result: Loss 35-45 (3-2)
Week 6 Bye
Week 7 (10/22) at San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have gone through a complete management overhaul and early returns have been positive thus far (how could they do worse than 2-14?). The Niners front seven is young and tenacious. The secondary is spotty. Brian Hoyer is Brian Hoyer on offense. Cowboys win easy on the road. Maybe backup QB Cooper Rush makes his debut in garbage time?
Result: Win 34-16 (4-2)
Week 8 (10/29) at Washington Redskins
Under the original parameters of Elliott’s suspension, this would have been his first game back. As his appeal dragged on, it turns out this will be his last game in the penalty box. Division games on the road are tough. Redskins by a field goal at home.
Result: Loss 21-24 (4-3)
Week 9 (11/5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Zeke is back and has something to prove. The Chiefs are only as good as Alex Smith, which is pretty average. Smith is also the lame duck president this season with rookie Patrick Mahomes waiting in the wings. Can Tyreek Hill be a number one receiver? Is rookie running back Kareem Hunt as good as they think he is? Chiefs defense is tough, but Dallas gets the “W.”
Result: Win 26-17 (5-3)
Week 10 (11/12) at Atlanta Falcons
Remember when the Falcons were leading 28-3 in the Super Bowl only to see the New England Patriots storm back and win in overtime? I remember and so do they. I think they’re going to have a hard time getting over it. Similar to the Carolina Panthers in the season after their Super Bowl loss, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons miss the playoffs. The offense is still good, but last year’s offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, isn’t there anymore.
Result: Win 42-37 (6-3)
Week 11 (11/19) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
I see Carson Wentz making a big leap in 2017. The Eagles also brought in a legit number one wide out in Alshon Jeffery and decent deep-threat Torrey Smith. This is a let-down game for the Cowboys after winning a barn-burner against the defending NFC champs.
Result: Loss 24-27 (6-4)
Week 12 (11/23) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
A new head coach in Anthony Lynn, a new city that hasn’t noticed them yet, and a new home venue with a capacity of 27,000. The cupboard is not bare for the Bolts, but the off-season turmoil takes a toll. Playing in the king of football stadiums, Dallas delights on Turkey Day with a big win.
Result: Win 33-21 (7-4)
Week 13 (11/30) vs. Washington Redskins
A scheduling oddity as the Cowboys will play a second consecutive Thursday game. Losing their top two wide receivers to free agency and little depth at the running back position will catch up with the Redskins this late in the season. As things unravel for Washington, quarterback Kirk Cousins already has one foot out of the door. Head Coach Jay Gruden’s seat is flaming hot.
Result: Win 27-14 (8-4)
Week 14 (12/10) at New York Giants
The Cowboys and Giants are neck-and-neck for the division title at this point in the season. This time the pendulum swings back in New York’s favor. Eli Manning pulls another late, clutch drive and the G-Men hold strong at home.
Result: Loss 16-20 (8-5)
Week 15 (12/17) at Oakland Raiders
After announcing last summer that the storied Raiders franchise was abandoning Oakland for a second time, the illustrious “Black Hole” has lost its swagger. With Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, the Raiders offense can put up some points. The defense, on the other hand, can’t stop a nose bleed.
Result: Win 48-40 (9-5)
Week 16 (12/24) vs. Seattle Seahawks
This could be a postseason preview as both the Seahawks and Cowboys are eyeing playoff seeds with just two games to play. Russell Wilson is a hair better than Dak Prescott and Seattle’s defense is a head better than Dallas’.
Result: Loss 14-17 (9-6)
Week 17 (12/31) at Philadelphia Eagles
With the potential of a division title or a wild card spot on the line, the Cowboys come to play. The Eagles are close but not quite there yet. Wentz throws a late pick to seal it and Dallas clinches a playoff spot.