I continue my analysis of teams' home schedules -- doing all 32 home slates before switching to road -- with the Dallas Cowboys. And there was arguably no more schizophrenic home/road team last season than Dallas. They were only 4-4 at JerryWorld but 8-0 on the road, the NFL's only unbeaten away from home. That Dallas won the NFC East probably saved Coach Jason Garrett's job. The Cowboys got a gift (or two) from the referees in beating visiting Detroit in the wild-card round, but then they got jobbed by the refs on a Dez Bryant (non) TD catch in the divisional round at Green Bay.
The Cowboys were 3-5 against the spread at home last regular season and 2-5-1 "over/under". Their 2015 home schedule is ranked as the second-toughest in the division with an opponents' 2014 winning percentage of .480. That's the 12th-easiest in the NFL.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 13 -- Giants (+5.5): To no surprise, the Cowboys open the season on national TV as this is the Sunday night game. Last season as a 4.5-point favorite in Week 7, the Cowboys beat the Giants 31-21. Former Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, now in Philadelphia, made history in that one with 128 yards and touchdown. He broke Jim Brown's NFL record by rushing for 100 yards in a seventh straight game to open a season. Tony Romo completed 17-for-23 for 279 yards with three touchdowns as Dallas started last season 6-1. Bryant caught nine of those passes for 151 yards. Key trend: In the past four September home games as a favorite against the Giants, Dallas is 3-1 against the spread.
Sept. 27 -- Falcons (+5.5): Potential letdown game here after opening with the Giants and then visiting Philadelphia in Week 2, two huge NFC East games. Plus a likely tough game awaits in Week 4 at New Orleans. The Cowboys and Falcons haven't met since 2012, an Atlanta 19-13 home win. Key trend: Dallas is 6-3 ATS in its past nine at home vs. Atlanta.
Oct. 11 -- Patriots (pick'em): This line was posted before the Tom Brady suspension. So clearly the Cowboys will be watching Brady's appeal to Roger Goodell very carefully. If it stands, this would be Brady's final game on the sideline, but many think it could be reduced by at least a game. Think Dallas would rather face Jimmy Garoppolo? By the way, he went to Eastern Illinois, as did Romo. The Patriots do come off the bye for this game. Key trend: The Cowboys are only 4-6 ATS in their past 10 vs. the AFC at home.
Nov. 1 -- Seahawks (-1.5): Depending on what happens with Brady, this could be the only game in which Dallas will be an underdog. I'm sure Seattle will want a bit of payback here. In one of the surprising results of 2014, the Cowboys went to the Pacific Northwest and won 30-23 -- that's when you knew this team might be legit. Murray had 28 carries and 115 yards with a TD against the NFL's top defense, and Romo threw for 250 yards and two scores. Dallas held the ball for nearly 38 minutes. Key trend: Dallas has won just twice as a home dog in its past 10 but covered six.
Nov. 8 -- Eagles (+2.5): This is clearly the toughest back-to-back stretch of the season following the Seahawks game and also the only time the Cowboys play consecutive home games in 2015. Last year on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys were clobbered by the Eagles 33-10. Romo was pretty bad, going 18-of-29 for 199 yards with two picks while Murray was held to 73 yards on 20 carries. The Cowboys defense was gashed for 256 rushing yards. Key trend: Cowboys are 0-4 SU and ATS in their past four November home games in series.
Nov. 26 -- Panthers (+4.5): Cowboys return home from a two-game road trip through Florida against Greg Hardy's former team on Thanksgiving -- and barring a successful appeal by Hardy of his 10-game suspension then this would be his home debut. Think he might have a chip on his shoulder against Carolina? The Cowboys are 9-1 all-time vs. Carolina in the regular season. Key trend: Cowboys 2-2-1 ATS vs. Panthers at home but have won four straight.
Dec. 19 -- Jets (+7.5): Gang Green visits Big D for the first time since 2007, and this is a Saturday night game. This comes after a tough two-game trip to Washington and then Green Bay, so the Cowboys might be a bit flat after that playoff rematch in Lambeau. Key trend: Cowboys 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC East.
Jan. 3 -- Redskins (TBA): You won't see any Week 17 lines posted because too much could be at stake to guesstimate (or nothing at all could be on the line). Probably the Cowboys' most puzzling home loss in 2014 was on Monday night in Week 8 when Dallas was on a six-game winning streak and lost 20-17 in overtime to Colt McCoy and the Redskins. You may remember Romo left that game for a while in the second half with a back injury. Murray had 141 yards, his eighth straight with 100 at the time. Key trend: Cowboys just 2-8 ATS in past 10 at home in this series.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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