Dallas Cowboys Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 24, 2014

Dallas Cowboys Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game

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    We've known the 13 opponents the Dallas Cowboys will face in 2014 since the end of the 2013 regular season, but it doesn't hit you until the full schedule is put into place.

    Now that the 2014 regular-season schedule has been released by the NFL, we have a chance go through and count the projected wins and losses, just as many of us have done since we were in grade school.

    Here's a look at Dallas' full 17-week sked, along with analysis and predictions.

Week 1: Cowboys vs. 49ers

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 7 at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

    The Packers and Panthers can attest that the 49ers travel well. They beat both of those teams on the road in last year's playoffs and have gone 17-7 away from home the last three years. So while the Cowboys would obviously prefer to take on an elite team like San Francisco at AT&T Stadium, the reality is that they're probably in trouble regardless. 

    Still, Colin Kaepernick isn't infallible and has been known to experience some off days. Regardless of what happens on that side of the ball, the Cowboys will have to be clicking on all cylinders on offense against a defensive unit that was ranked fifth in yardage and third in scoring last season. 

    Prediction: 49ers 30, Cowboys 21

    Expect the Cowboys to stick around at home, but they don't appear to be in the same league as the Niners right now, and Kaep won't likely have an off day in Week 1. 

Week 2: Cowboys at Titans

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX

    The Titans haven't won more than four home games in a season since 2009, so this should be a very winnable road matchup for Dallas. It helps that Tennessee had a lackluster pass rush last year, which could give Tony Romo plenty of time to pick on a secondary that lost top corner Alterraun Verner in free agency. 

    Jake Locker could keep this interesting if he's on his game, especially if the Dallas pass rush doesn't come to play. And we all know the Cowboys' secondary is beatable. But does Locker really have the weapons to fully take advantage, especially now that Chris Johnson is no longer around to lend his support? 

    Prediction: Cowboys 28, Titans 13

    The Cowboys should take care of business in a blowout victory. This is a favorable matchup. 

Week 3: Cowboys at Rams

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX

    The young Rams appear to be getting better, especially with Sam Bradford coming back from injury. And the aging Cowboys appear to be getting worse, especially with DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher now gone. 

    Sure, the Cowboys smoked St. Louis at AT&T Stadium early last season, but the Rams are also a much different team at home (nine wins the last two seasons), while Dallas' only road win against a winning team last year came in Philadelphia. Overall, the 'Boys were 3-5 out of Texas. 

    It's not as though this matchup with a fierce pass rush is terrible for the cool Tony Romo and his loaded arsenal of receivers. In fact, things are quite favorable for that offense. The question is which Bradford will show up for this game, and whether the Cowboys can stop him if he's hot and has Zac Stacy providing support. Either way, don't expect a blowout.

    Prediction: Cowboys 24, Rams 23

    This one could go either way, but we're not sure about Bradford that early. 

Week 4: Cowboys vs. Saints

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    No offense picked apart the Dallas defense as methodically as the Saints did in New Orleans last season. Drew Brees and Co. compiled 625 total yards and 49 points in that game, embarrassing Monte Kiffin's D despite the fact the Cowboys were actually relatively healthy at the time. 

    Considering that the Dallas defense has only gotten worse this offseason with the loss of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, there's little reason to believe the Saints won't once again have a big day. 

    The difference is that this matchup is in Dallas, and the Saints are still quite vulnerable on defense after losing Jabari Greer, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins in the offseason. Expect a better showing from Tony Romo and Co., but the 'Boys will still have their hands full. 

    Prediction: Saints 41, Cowboys 35

    Dallas should score some points back at home, but 3-1 has been a bugaboo for this franchise and they don't have the talent on D to stop Brees and Co. Tough loss in a high-scoring game. 

Week 5: Cowboys vs. Texans

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS

    Don't look past the Texans. Houston may have won just two games last year, but that was an apocalyptic season for an otherwise talented, playoff-caliber team. Dallas is lucky to draw them at home for this intra-state battle, because that vulnerable secondary could have its hands full with Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. 

    And while J.J. Watt poses a threat as part of a very dangerous front seven, Tony Romo should have some opportunities to exploit a beatable secondary with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten. 

    Prediction: Cowboys 27, Texans 17

    It won't be easy, but this is a relatively favorable matchup at home. And it's early enough that Houston can still be having some trouble at the quarterback spot. 

Week 6: Cowboys at Seahawks

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 12 at 4:25 p.m. ET

    This is by far the toughest game on the Cowboys' schedule. The division rival Eagles and Redskins get to host Seattle, but Dallas has to travel to the Pacific Northwest to battle the defending Super Bowl champions. And at home since the start of 2012, Seattle is 15-1 with an average margin of victory of 16.9 points. They're virtually unbeatable up there. 

    The Seahawks did prove to be somewhat vulnerable against elite pass rushes last season. After all, Russell Wilson was the league's most pressured quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and he was only average in those situations. But can the Cowboys, who lost DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher after compiling the league's lowest sack rate in 2013, really take advantage of that? 

    Prediction: Seahawks 30, Cowboys 13

    Thanks for coming out. The Cowboys are going to get toasted, just like in 2012. 

Week 7: Cowboys vs. Giants

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 19 at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

    The Cowboys have beaten the Giants in three of their last four meetings, and I'd argue they haven't been outplayed by New York since the 2011 regular-season finale. But the Cowboys didn't do much to improve in the offseason thanks to salary cap handcuffs, while the Giants bolstered the secondary in a big way.

    That bodes well for matchups with the Cowboys' lethal passing attack. The Giants defense has the goods to limit Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten, which could be the key to success. Plus, expect the Giants offense to be at least slightly improved now that the offensive line has been bolstered. 

    The turnover factor makes these games unpredictable. The Giants gave the ball away a league-high 44 times last year, while the Cowboys had a solid 28 takeaways. 

    Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 24

    For once, we're thinking both home teams win in this season series between two great rivals.

Week 8: Cowboys vs. Redskins

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    Kickoff time and network: Monday, Oct. 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Which Redskins team will Dallas run into? While the Cowboys have been a consistent (if not frustrating) 8-8 for three straight years, Washington's been unpredictable from season to season of late. They won five games in 2011, 10 with Robert Griffin III on board in 2012 and only three with everything hitting the fan in 2013. 

    We're guessing that with DeSean Jackson on board and Griffin healthy, the 'Skins resemble that 2012 team in Jay Gruden's first year. And that team scored 66 points in a season sweep of the Cowboys, with the more memorable victory coming in Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

    In Dallas, this one's close to a toss up. But the Redskins probably have an edge.

    Prediction: Redskins 30, Cowboys 28

    The 'Skins should look more like that 2012 team that won in Dallas. 

Week 9: Cowboys vs. Cardinals

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX

    Dallas has a shot here at home, but the Cardinals are still a much better all-around team, and I think the difference will be Arizona's offensive weapons against a suspect Cowboys defense that ranked last in football in 2013. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington make up a scary trio, and the Cowboys haven't proven that they can keep up with groups like that. 

    Henry Melton could help with Ellington, but replacing DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher won't be easy in games like these, especially if Brandon Carr and/or Morris Claiborne are forced to battle those top-notch wideouts on islands. 

    Prediction: Cardinals 31, Cowboys 27

    Arizona always gives the Cowboys fits. This year, it only makes sense.

Week 10: Cowboys at Jaguars in London

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX

    The Jaguars have won just two of 16 home games since the start of 2012, so the Cowboys should be able walk into Jacksonville and paste a Jags team that faces major questions when it comes to the pass rush and the quarterback position. 

    Nothing's a sure thing in this league, though, and we all know Dallas lays the odd shocking egg in London. The Jags did manage to go 4-4 during the second half of the 2013 regular season, and if they find a reliable quarterback they could find some opportunities against that weak Dallas pass defense. Still, this should be an easy victory for Jason Garrett's squad. 

    Prediction: Cowboys 30, Jaguars 20

    The exhausted Cowboys are lucky to draw Jacksonville here. The Jags also have a Week 11 bye, so they don't catch a break. 


Bye Week

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    Coming out of the bye last year, Dallas edged the Giants by a score of 24-21, breaking a three-game post-bye losing streak. But in 2012, they lost a hard-fought game against Baltimore, so they've actually looked solid coming off the bye the last two seasons. 

Week 12: Cowboys at Giants

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Nov. 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    The Cowboys have won back-to-back games in New York, scoring 66 points in those two matchups. The law of averages dictates that could change this year, because these teams are too close in talent for Dallas to win three straight road games within the all-time series. 

    I think New York's D might be more prepared than ever to deal with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten. The key could be that revamped secondary, which is deep enough to hold that dangerous Dallas passing game in check, regardless of a lack of pressure on Tony Romo. 

    If that can happen and Eli Manning can bounce back a tad against a beatable defense that ranked dead last in the NFL last season, the Giants should prevail at home. 

    Prediction: Giants 24, Cowboys 21

    As we noted, it's not as though Dallas has been unbeatable coming off bye weeks. This is the exact type of game they lose despite the circumstances. 

Week 13: Cowboys vs. Eagles

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    Kickoff time and network: Thursday, Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX

    The Cowboys could have a chance to do some damage here. They gave Nick Foles more trouble than any other defense last year, and Philly took a step backward by losing DeSean Jackson. The Eagles did beat Dallas in a close do-or-die Week 17 matchup last year, but the Cowboys didn't have Tony Romo and were torn apart by injuries on defense. 

    Watch for the Cowboys to take care of Philly at home on Thanksgiving, where they always play well, but we fully expect both matchups to be extremely close, which is typical in this division. 

    Prediction: Cowboys 28, Eagles 21

    The Eagles also have a relatively early bye, so they could be a little beat out here, while Dallas will be fresh and looking to bounce back after a loss to a division rival. 

Week 14: Cowboys at Bears

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    Kickoff time and network: Thursday, Dec. 4 at 8:25 p.m. ET on NFL Network

    The Bears have really had the Cowboys' number of late, beating them three times in the last four years by a combined score of 106-66. In the latest meeting, last season, that breakable Dallas defense had no answer for Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery as backup Bears quarterback Josh McCown threw four touchdown passes in a blowout victory. 

    Dallas might have stolen Henry Melton, but you can add Jared Allen to that Chicago defensive front and Jay Cutler should be back under center for the Bears, who are at home. The Cowboys were only 3-5 on the road last year, while the Bears were 5-3 at Soldier Field. 

    Prediction: Bears 31, Cowboys 17

    The Cowboys don't even get to benefit from a week and a half off after the Thanksgiving game, since this is on a Thursday. On the road, they're in big trouble. 

Week 15: Cowboys at Eagles

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Dec. 14 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    Dallas beat the Eagles on the road last year, limiting Nick Foles in a big way. However, Foles was still a fresh starter at that point, and not all of the issues he had in that game were related to what Dallas was doing on D. 

    The Eagles finished the 2013 regular season with four straight wins at home, while Dallas was only 3-5 on the road. It's nice to not have to worry about DeSean Jackson, but this is still an unfavorable matchup for one of the league's least reliable defenses. 

    Prediction: Cowboys 30, Eagles 27

    And yet we're picking the Cowboys to win. Why? Because they have extra time off after that Bears loss, because they're unpredictable like that and because the Eagles might be out of gas after a tough matchup with Seattle in Week 14. 

Week 16: Cowboys vs. Colts

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Dec. 21 at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS

    Andrew Luck could have a field day against this defense in what might be a breakout season for the former No. 1 overall pick. He's got a stacked group of receivers going up against a D that ranked dead last against the pass last season, so this could be trouble. 

    We all know that the best way to slow Luck and Co. down is to get pressure. After all, the guy completed just 44.1 percent of his passes when pressured last season, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which ranked 22nd among 27 qualifying quarterbacks. But can the 'Boys bring enough heat? Jury's still very much out as we begin the post-Ware/Hatcher/Spencer era. 

    Yeah, Indy's D is vulnerable, so the Cowboys should stick around at home. But the real way to get to that defense is to run it down their throats, which isn't exactly a staple of Jason Garrett's offense. 

    Prediction: Colts 28, Cowboys 20

    Wouldn't it be just like the Cowboys to cough this one up at home? It's not a good matchup anyway. 

Week 17: Cowboys at Redskins

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday Dec. 28 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX

    While the Cowboys hung with the 'Skins at home on Thanksgiving in 2012, they were severely outplayed by them in the season finale on the road. And last year in December, with Robert Griffin III sidelined, the 'Boys had way too much trouble with a long-deceased Washington team at FedEx Field, capturing a must-win game by a one-point margin thanks to a last-second score. 

    Ultimately, the 'Skins got better this offseason with the addition of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts on offense. They might be too fast now for the Cowboys' suspect defense, and RGIII should be as good as ever. That doesn't bode well for Dallas' chances here on the road. 

    Prediction: Redskins 23, Cowboys 20

    This could eerily feel a lot like it did in 2012. I don't know what Dallas will be playing for, if anything, but this should matter for the 'Skins. 

Final Predictions

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    Final record: 7-9

    Well, Cowboys fans are sick and tired of 8-8. But I'm guessing this isn't the break from .500 they were hoping for. As always, this is early and it's based on game-by-game picks, which isn't the same as a broad prediction in August. Still, it doesn't look like a playoff season for Big D.