2018 Dallas Cowboys Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
The Dallas Cowboy who had the best 2017 season? I'd say Tony Romo.
Of course, the all-time leading passer in franchise history got hurt again in the 2016 preseason and lost his job to then-rookie Dak Prescott. There were a few teams that wanted Romo to play for them in 2017, but he opted to retire and join CBS' No. 1 NFL team alongside Jim Nantz. Romo turned out to be fantastic in the booth.
Otherwise, not much went right for the Cowboys franchise as it dropped from 13-3 in 2016 and the NFC's top seed to 9-7 last year and out of the playoffs. The biggest issue was the drawn-out legal battle over star running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension. In Week 9 last year, the Cowboys had an impressive 28-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs behind 27 carries, 93 yards and a score from Elliott. The team was 5-3 and trending up.
However, Elliott finally gave up the fight and started serving the suspension after that. Dallas immediately went on a three-game losing streak in which it scored just 22 total points. That skid all but killed the season. Elliott returned Week 16 vs. Seattle, but the Cowboys lost to the Seahawks in a playoff elimination game.
Prescott wasn't the same guy in 2017, either. Now, it's fair to expect some drop-off in the games Elliott missed, but Prescott's completion percentage was about five points worse from his rookie year, his picks rose from four to 13 and his rating fell from 104.9 to 86.6. Is Prescott a good quarterback? No question. Is he potentially Top 5 elite like he looked as a rookie? Don't think so.
The former Mississippi State star will be missing two of his former favorite targets going forward in Dez Bryant, who was released, and future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten, who followed Romo into the broadcast booth and will do ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Dallas was 6-2 on the road last season (usually gets you in the playoffs), 5-2-1 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." The Cowboys travel to three playoff teams from last year: Carolina, Philadelphia and Atlanta. With Seattle and Houston also away, the road schedule looks tougher than at home. I project the Cowboys to finish 3-5 on the road. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 9 at Panthers (-2.5, 45): It's the first time in six years that Dallas opens away from home. The last time these teams met was Thanksgiving 2015, the last start of Romo's career. The Cowboys have won four of their past six openers but made the playoffs the two they didn't. They haven't played in Charlotte in six years. Key trend: Cowboys 5-0 SU & 4-1 ATS at Panthers.
Sept. 23 at Seahawks (-1.5): Shocked this isn't a prime-time game, although obviously both clubs fell off last year. There were rumors all offseason that Seattle was going to trade star safety and Texas native Earl Thomas to the Cowboys. Maybe it still happens. Dallas won its last trip to Seattle in 2014 in a big upset but lost that home game to the Seahawks late last season. Key trend: Cowboys 3-2 ATS in Seattle.
Oct. 7 at Texans (-3): Sunday night and good matchup of young quarterbacks in Prescott and Houston's Deshaun Watson. No, they never faced off in college. The entire state of Texas may shut down for three hours or so for this game. There was some talk that Bryant would sign with the Texans. Key trend: Cowboys 4-3 ATS at AFC South foes.
Oct. 21 at Redskins (-1): Ahead of Dallas' bye week. I doubt Washington will be favored for this game unless it is way better than I think. The Cowboys have won five straight games at FedEx Field, including 33-19 in Week 8 last year. Elliott rushed for 150 yards and two scores in a rainstorm. Key trend: Cowboys 7-3 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Nov. 11 at Eagles (-5.5): Sunday night and Dallas on a short week after hosting Tennessee on Monday in Week 9. Dallas has won five of its last six in Philly. It was a 6-0 snoozer in Week 17 last season when the Eagles had nothing to play for and the win only really cost Dallas draft position. Key trend: Cowboys 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Nov. 18 at Falcons (-3): Ahead of a quick turnaround Thanksgiving game vs. Washington for the Cowboys. Probably the low point of the 2017 season for Dallas was a 27-7 Week 10 loss in Atlanta when Prescott was under siege all day, sacked eight times with star left tackle Tyron Smith out injured. Key trend: Cowboys 3-6 ATS in Atlanta.
Dec. 16 at Colts (+3): Dallas off a three-game homestand. It has not faced Andrew Luck in Indianapolis as the team last visited there in 2010 when Peyton Manning was still around. The Cowboys did beat up Luck in a 2014 42-7 home victory. Key trend: Cowboys 6-3-1 ATS in past 10 as road favorite anywhere.
Dec. 30 at Giants (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines with too many potential intangibles. Might this be the final game as a Giant for Eli Manning? The Cowboys won 30-13 at the Giants in Week 14 last year. Prescott had his best game of the season in throwing for 332 yards and three scores. Sean Lee had a whopping 18 tackles. Key trend: Cowboys 4-6 ATS in past 10 at Giants.
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