NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on with head coach Jason Garrett against the New Orleans Saints during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 10, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
On your mark, get set … bet?!
That’s right, the Cowboys are 3.5-point underdogs to the 49ers in their season opener, even though the game won’t be played for another 19 weeks.
Since it’s apparently never too early to analyze and predict, let’s take an irrational stab at the Cowboys’ 2014 schedule. I mean only a fool – or Las Vegas – would make assumptions about a regular-season slate before the draft, OTAs, minicamps, training camp or the preseason. But I’m a fool with a soft spot for Sin City, so away we go …
*The Cowboys make the maximum five prime-time TV appearances – three Sunday night, one Monday night and a Thursday night – but didn’t get the nod to open up at the defending champion Seahawks. Instead, they’ll kick-off against the 49ers for the first time in their 55-year history. Dallas has never faced Colin Kaepernick.
*Cowboys have lost three in-a-row – two in overtime – to the Cardinals, who they host Nov. 2. If you’re going to make the playoffs, you don’t lose home games to Arizona.
*The trip to London will be the story on Nov. 9, but a chance at a valuable “road” win will be the goal when the Cowboys play the lowly Jaguars in England. Should be Dallas’ best chance for a road win all season.
*The Bye comes in Week 11 – sandwiched between November games against Jacksonville and the Giants. Only the Panthers and Steelers have a later Bye.
*Last year former Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan got his revenge. This year he makes his return. Saints visit AT&T Stadium Sept. 28.
*Cowboys play six of their first 10 at home, with one of the road games in London. With a brutal finishing schedule – road games against the Giants, Bears, Eagles and Redskins – they need to be 7-3 through the “easy” part of the season if they hope to get to 10 wins.
*Should be a delicious finale Dec. 28 against the Redskins in Washington. DeSean Jackson and Jason Hatcher playing for the Redskins in a game that will feature a rivalry, potentially harsh weather and – for the fourth consecutive season – perhaps a season-ending NFC East Championship Game.
*Let’s be honest, it’s a rough schedule. Early games against the 49ers, Seahawks and Saints, and a finishing six-game stretch where the only home games are against 2013 playoff teams Philly and Indy. At first glance another 8-8 season might be asking a lot of this Cowboys’ team against this schedule. Let’s go with 7-9. But please, write it in pencil.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.