Pre-Training Camp Projection for the Dallas Cowboys

Are the Cowboys a good bet to make the playoffs in 2016?

By all accounts, the Dallas Cowboy are supposed to be a decent football team this season. That would be a significant turnaround for a team that only won 25% of its games last year, but in the parity-filled league that is the NFL, are the Dallas Cowboys a good bet to win the NFC East?

The Cowboys 2016 schedule includes their annual division opponents, the AFC North, the NFC North, the San Francisco 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One would expect with the offense as healthy as ever, but the defense has several holes due to suspensions. This team probably will not be as consistent as 2014. Their ceiling however, may be higher.

The Cowboys are favorites in their opener against the New York Giants and their week two game in D.C. should be a toss-up. Divisional opponents are tough, but it would not be too optimistic to believe the Dallas Cowboys could start the season 2-0. It's a start much needed for team that struggled horifically to end the year.

They follow that up by hosting the Chicago Bears before heading out to San Francisco and taking on Chip Kelly. Those are also two winnable games, but things never go as planned. Realistically the Cowboys should finish the first quarter of their season at 3-1.

The two games before Dallas’ week seven bye look to be the toughest games on the schedule. They host the Cincinnati Bengals, who have arguably the best roster in the NFL, and then travel to Green Bay, where they will try to reverse their 2015 misfortune against the Packers (Dez Caught It). If the Cowboys can find a way to split those games, it would be considered a success and entering their bye week at 4-2, would also fall into that category.

After the bye week the Cowboys will need to start off strong to stay on pace with the best in NFC. They will play two first time head coaches, Philadelphia Eagles’ Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns’ Hue Jackson. Jason Garrett will need to fuse his experience with the superior roster talent to assure they win both of those games. Winning those games are a virtual “must” if the Cowboys expect to be a contender in 2016.

As winter rolls around and the Cowboys hit the home stretch, so to speak, they travel to Pittsburgh, before hosting Baltimore and then Washington on their annual Thanksgiving Day game. This is a tough stretch for Dallas, even if two of three games are in Jerry World. They will play three games in less than two weeks of time, expect that to be where the teams stumbles, but do not overreact. If the Cowboys are 6-5 or 7-4 heading in to December they will likely be in the driver’s seat in the NFC East, or at worst, jockeying for position in the division or wild-card race.

Their last five games are against four teams that were sub-.500 and the Minnesota Vikings. It is a very manageable end to the schedule and should allow them to make up ground if they under achieved early on. The Cowboys should realistically go 3-2 to wrap up the year and finish the season 10-6. The NFL is a crazy league and nothing is promised, but fans should be happy with nothing less than 9 wins in Dallas this year.

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