It’s always fans’ tendency to look up and down the NFL schedule and make assumptions about that team’s slate without any knowledge of how the unpredictable NFL season will truly play out. Teams that were in the playoffs the year before fall off a cliff, injuries happen, and bad teams somehow flip into good teams. We have no idea how things will turn out, but it’s just too fun to not try to predict things as fans.
Coming into the 2019 season, most anticipated the Cowboys coming out of the gates with a 2-1 or 3-0 record. After Sunday’s 31-6 victory over the reeling Dolphins, Dallas has accomplished that anticipated 3-0 start and now they’re comfortably in front of their suspected challenger in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2). The schedule the rest of the season is a lot more interesting with more road games and AFC opponents mixed in with the typical division foes. We all had this week’s showdown in the Big Easy with the Saints circled on our calendars, but made assumptions it would be no problem after Drew Brees needed surgery on his thumb following his week 2 injury. We saw the Packers at home in week five and respected Aaron Rodgers, but didn’t think this season’s Green Bay squad would be much of a challenge. Hosting the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving was anticipated to be the equivalent of a Power Five team scheduling Wyoming State for homecoming weekend. How do those assumptions line up after the developments that have occurred the first three weeks of the NFL season?
They are who we thought they were!
- At New England Patriots, November 24th. Even with the Antonio Brown circus briefly coming through town, the defending champion Pats are still rolling. Tom Brady and company are 3-0 with their average margin of victory at about 30 points.
- Vs Los Angeles Rams, December 15th. With a first place schedule, the Cowboys are lucky enough to get both of the participants in Super Bowl LIII on their schedule in 2019. The Rams, 3-0, have a couple close road wins over so-so teams in the Panthers and Browns, but any road win in the NFL is an accomplishment. Unless you go to Miami.
Maybe this will be harder than we thought…
- At New Orleans Saints, September 29th. The Super Bowl-aspiring Saints lost their franchise player in week two’s matchup with the Rams and everyone proclaimed them an easy target while he was out. Teddy Bridgewater and company silenced the critics with a convincing 33-27 win in Seattle on Sunday in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. With this being the Saints’ first home game since the Brees injury, the New Orleans faithful will surely be fired. up. to cheer for the underdog Saints who will have a huge opportunity to maintain a stranglehold on the seemingly subpar NFC South.
- Vs Green Bay Packers, October 6th. At 3-0, the Packers have exceeded expectations under first year coach Matt LaFleur. While Green Bay hasn’t won any game in especially sexy fashion, they are still undefeated and that can’t be dismissed. It has never been fun for the Cowboys to have to face Aaron Rodgers at AT&T Stadium.
- At Detroit Lions, November 17th. After a road win in Philadelphia on Sunday, the Lions stand undefeated through three games. While no one gave them much of a shot heading into the season, the Lions schedule isn’t exactly lined with tough games as this Sunday’s game in Detroit against Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs is really the only daunting opponent on the schedule before this matchup against Dallas. Who knows how silly this might look in a few weeks, but perhaps the Lions will be a little of a surprise in the so-far underwhelming NFC North.
- Vs Buffalo Bills, November 28th. Cole Beasley and his lovably forgettable franchise up north have started off hot but let’s see what happens this weekend when they face the mighty Patriots.
And about the rest…
It’s really too soon to tell about the rest of the NFC East. Yes, all Cowboys fans would love to jump on any opportunity to bury the Eagles at 1-2, but that would be premature. Dallas’ Week 7 and Week 16 tilts against Philly are certainly still going to be challenges. Even though they destroyed New York in week 1, the Giants‘ recent change at quarterback could be an energy spark that makes them a bit more competitive than they have been the last few seasons with Eli Manning at the helm. A Monday night matchup in New York on November 4th just seems like a recipe for a funky game that Dallas will have to fight through. Despite Washington’s 0-3 start, a change at quarterback and possibly head coach feels kind of imminent at this point. Who knows what kind of shape that locker room will be in or what kind of implication their visit on December 29th could have when they visit AT&T Stadium to wrap up the regular season on December 29th.
The Cowboys will have an additional trip to the Meadowlands this year as their October 13th tilt with the Jets probably won’t be too much to fret over with the trainwreck start they have had that includes Sam Darnold being diagnosed with Mononucleosis… Yikes.
This Sam Darnold graphic was the Jets' only bright spot against the Browns: https://t.co/aZyR3pOZJw pic.twitter.com/QEypBD9Mhd
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) September 17, 2019
Everyone loves to rip NFC North quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers, but like Matthew Stafford and the Lions, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings are off to a decent start at 2-1. Everyone seemed to be more concerned with how bad the Falcons looked when Minnesota manhandled them in Week 1. They seemed to only focus on how bad they looked when they lost a close game in Green Bay in week 2. No one said anything when they beat Oakland by 20 points in week 3. We’ll see what people are thinking of the Vikings when they visit Dallas on November 10th. Also up north, the Bears have gone from a 12 win team last season to the team everyone loves to pick falling from grace because of the uninspiring play of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Chicago’s first-place schedule is very tough with games against the Saints, Chargers, Eagles and Rams ahead of them, who knows what the Bears’ season will look like when the Cowboys head to Chicago on December 5th.
The ebbs and flows of an NFL season make things so unpredictable from week to week. The Cowboys opponents in 2019 have already gone through a lot of interesting developments through the first three weeks. While some of these games will remain tough games no matter what, be prepared for some surprise rises and falls over the course of the next several weeks.
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