The Dallas Cowboys come out of the bye week with a 5-1 record. They're the NFC East leaders and they're tied for the best record in the NFC. How good can this regular season be? Assuming the quarterback is Dak Prescott for the rest of 2016 (which may or may not be the case), I handicapped the remaining schedule.
Oct. 30 - Philadelphia: This is the first of two games against the Eagles. Philadelphia knocked off the last unbeaten team, Minnesota, which snapped a 2-game losing streak. The intriguing part about this game is that it's the first meeting between the two star rookie quarterbacks, Prescott and Carson Wentz. In all likelihood, it's the first of many meetings between the two. An overlooked aspect of the Eagles is their defense. They are getting turnovers and sacks at a high rate, and it might be the best defense Prescott will face this season. I still like the Cowboys because it's a home game. 6-1.
Nov. 6 - @ Cleveland: The Browns might be the worst team in the NFL. They haven't won a game and they're also playing a rookie quarterback. However, this rookie quarterback is nothing like Prescott and Wentz. Cody Kessler of USC is a developmental QB forced into action because of injuries. The Browns have the least amount of quality talent in the league, so Kessler isn't getting much help. The Cowboys win this easily, even though it's on the road. 7-1.
Nov. 13 - @ Pittsburgh: Did the Cowboys get lucky? A knee injury to star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger puts his status for this game in doubt. If that's the case, Dallas will face former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones who doesn't scare anybody. It's a shame Big Ben isn't healthy, because a full strength Cowboys-Steelers game would be must see TV. What might make this week even more interesting is Tony Romo. This might be his first full week healthy and practicing. Cowboys win but it's not easy. 8-1.
Nov. 20 - Baltimore: It's hard to figure out the Ravens. They're very injured and don't have a true identity. After starting the season 3-0, they've lost four straight. I wish I could elaborate more on the Ravens, but again, I don't have a good feel for what they are. Cowboys might get tested or they might blow them out. 9-1.
Nov. 24 - Washington: My first ever professional football game I attended was a Cowboys-Redskins game on Thanksgiving. It was 1990, the Cowboys won 27-17. However, in 2016 I think Dallas loses. I think the Cowboys are the better team, and will ultimately win the division, but Dallas is eventually going to stumble. Plus, beating a team twice in the same season is very difficult. It's a short week too, which will play a factor. Washington has found ways to win after a tough start, and they'll be fighting for a way into the postseason at that time. 9-2.
Dec. 1 - @ Minnesota: Could this be a playoff preview game? The Vikings finally lost and they have offensive issues, but Mike Zimmer has this team playing great on defense. This is a prime time game on Thursday night and the Minnesota crowd is still excited about the brand new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. I see a low scoring game. The Cowboys still struggle for the first time to run the ball at will and the Vikings defensive line will put enough pressure on Prescott to make him uncomfortable. The Cowboys can win this game, but I see Minnesota taking it. 9-3.
Dec. 11 - @ N.Y. Giants: I'm going to assume that the Giants will be desperate at this point in the season. They've had a lot of ups and downs, which will force them into playing quality football down the stretch to make the postseason. Not only is it a rivalry game, but the Giants will need it to stay alive. The Cowboys will have 10 days off between this game and the Minnesota game, so they'll be well rested. For the same reason I said Washington will beat Dallas on Thanksgiving, I'm going with Dallas. A long, long time ago in Week 1, the Giants beat Dallas 20-19. The Cowboys get revenge on the road. 10-3.
Dec. 18 - Tampa Bay: I'll save you the time of reading my analysis of this game. The Bucs stink. Cowboys roll big. 11-3.
Dec. 26 - Detroit: The Lions return to AT&T Stadium for the first time since losing a 2014 playoff game to the Cowboys. Luckily for Brandon Carr, Calvin Johnson retired. Luckily for Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, Ndamukong Suh moved on to Miami. The Lions are polarizing. They can look great and beat anybody, or lose to the worst of the worst. The Cowboys secondary will be tested with the likes of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquon Boldin. However, Dallas has enough to beat the Lions who have one of their bad days. 12-3.
Jan. 1 - @ Eagles: It's the season finale and the Cowboys have already wrapped up a 1st-round bye and a home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Eagles will need this game to get into the playoffs so they'll be hungry. Imagine this scenario for a moment; if this is a meaningless game and the Cowboys are trying to protect their starting quarterback, could Romo be the "backup mop-up duty" QB? It's a crazy scenario, but it's not far-fetched. Cowboys lose and finish the season 12-4.