Ahhhh, the NFL schedule, something that so many fans look forward to the release of. A few weeks ago I wasn’t able to bring my thoughts on the schedule, but it’s always a fun exercise to look at what the Dallas Cowboys have ahead them in 2017.
First things first, trying to count wins and losses when the schedule comes out is an exercise in futility. There are just too many variables to consider to know how a season will play out. A team’s record is too difficult to predict in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers were the belle of the NFC ball a year ago at this time and they folded like a cheap pool toy when the season came around. That’s a too common experience in this league, unless you’re the New England Patriots.
With that said, the schedule looks daunting for the Cowboys. But, that’s the price you pay for winning your division the year before, it brings tougher competition the following season. Dallas benefitted from the same system in 2016 when they played a last place schedule and went 13-3.
Don’t expect 13-3 again.
It also doesn’t mean the Cowboys can’t still win double-digit games or take home the NFC East crown again this season. It just means it looks like doing so will be more difficult this year. Again, it’s all about perception right now because no one has a clue which teams will be good in 2017.
However, the schedule makers did the Cowboys no favors. The opening month will be a challenge and getting out of the gate fast will be huge. The opening night game against the rival New York Giants is key because they play the next two games on the road, at the Denver Broncos and at the Arizona Cardinals. Those are two of the tougher places to play in the NFL, and Arizona has been a particular house of horrors for Dallas.
October is a short month since they Cowboys have a bye in week six, but it includes games against the Green Bay Packers and at the Washington Redskins.
As Dallas enters November, there isn’t a soft game on the schedule the remainder of the way. They do have four homes games, including opening the month against the Kansas City Chiefs and ending it versus Washington. Sandwiched in the middle is a road trip to the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons and their first game against the Philadelphia Eagles before their annual Thanksgiving contest versus the Los Angeles Chargers. None of those will be easy games.
Then comes December, a month where the Cowboys need to give themselves some breathing room if they are going to challenge for a playoff spot. They have three road games, two against rivals, and their only home contest is against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s a tough way to end the season.
There is no way to tell how difficult the season will end up being. The Dallas Cowboys could turn out to be just as good in 2017 as they were in 2016 and their opponents won’t matter, but it appears the schedule presents the team with a tough road ahead.
No one said it was going to be easy.
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