The Dallas Cowboys didn't have much time to celebrate after their thrilling come-from-behind victory over the New York Giants during the opening week of the season. Shortly after Tony Romo marched his team 72 yards down the field with a little over a minute on the clock and hit Jason Witten with the gaming-tying touchdown, news broke that Dez Bryant, who was injured earlier in the game, will miss four to six weeks with an broken bone in his foot. The Cowboys, who were looking recreate the magic of last season's near NFC Conference game miss, may be out of the running before the race ever begins.
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Bryant is expected to have surgery this week, and if the initial timetable for his return is correct, Dallas will not see its star wide receiver take the field until Week 7 or 8. Let's take a closer look at the injury, go over Dallas' Week 2 lines and overall schedule to see how the setback will impact the team going forward.
Dallas Cowboys Upcoming Schedule
Foot injuries are always a tricky situation to navigate, and many times players rush back from those accelerated time tables only to re-aggravate the original injury. The NBA and NFL are different sports, but last season Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant injured his foot, rushed back in "four to six weeks" and then had to be put on the shelf for the rest of the year after the dealing with the same injury a few weeks later. Dallas may have a projected timetable for Bryant's return, but that does not mean he will be back by then. The foot issue could be something that plagues the team all season. However, let's assume a four- to six-week timetable is accurate and take a look at who the Cowboys will be playing during that time.
Week 2: at Philadelphia
Week 3: Atlanta
Week 4: at New Orleans
Week 5: New England
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: at New York
Week 8: Seattle
Week 9: Philadelphia
Dallas losing its top wide receiver during the first week of the season couldn't have come at a worse time. Overall, the Cowboys have a tough 2015 schedule, but the first half of the season is particularly brutal with four division matchups against their two biggest rivals-New York and Philadelphia-two other matchups against the last two Super Bowl winners in New England and Seattle, along with home and road games against Atlanta and New Orleans.
Romo has other options on offensive besides Bryant, especially with Witten typically being a consistent choice. However, the injury might take away the deep-ball threat for the team, which could spell trouble against New England and the fast-paced Eagles offensive. Dallas' biggest issues against its schedule will be producing a consistent running game and playing solid-to-great defense over that span. Bryant's absence may not play as big of a role as one would expect because the team was already running into trouble to being with.
Dallas Cowboys Week 2 line
The Cowboys are anywhere from a three- to four-point underdog (depending on the site) with a total line ranging from 54 to 57 points. Philadelphia will be coming off a tough loss against Atlanta during Week 1, where the squad struggled on both ends of the ball but also showed flashes of brilliance during various moments in the game. Quarterback Sam Bradford struggled during the first half but seemed to get more comfortable within the offense during the second.
Both teams split home losses during last season's series, with the winner covering both spreads. Philadelphia seems to be the team that will need to make more adjustment heading into the next few weeks, and this matchup could be the closest thing to a must-win for the Eagles as a team can get during the second game of the year. Philadelphia starting 0-2 with a division loss could spell doom for the team's division title chances. The Cowboys know that and will be looking to steal this game no matter who is in the lineup.
Dallas Cowboys Predictions
At the moment there are no Super Bowl futures odds available on Bovada, but when they are eventually updated Bryant's injury may not change the odds too much-the team started the year in the +1200 range. Dallas' next seven weeks are almost unmanageable, and a best-case scenario over that span is probably a 5-3 mark to start the year, while a worst-case scenario would probably be a 3-5 mark during those eight games. The Cowboys could still be on course for a postseason berth and division championship, but do not be surprised or panicked to see the team start the year with a 4-4 mark.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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