2017 Dallas Cowboys Home Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
It's almost hard to preview the Dallas Cowboys for the 2017 season because it seems like one of their players is in trouble with the law or suspended just about every other day. Then again, the dynastic Cowboys of the 1990s were a bit of a lawless bunch too. Owner/GM Jerry Jones clearly doesn't mind taking risks on guys with major talent but questionable character.
Last preseason, the Cowboys were one of the centers of attention in the NFL because Tony Romo was returning from serious injury - and then proceeded to suffer another one. That may have turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to this franchise, much like when New England starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was hurt early in the 2001 season and Wally Pipped by a young kid named Tom Brady.
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Of course, the Cowboys turned last year's team over to fourth-rounder Dak Prescott, and he had one of the great rookie seasons in NFL history on the way to winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year over teammate Ezekiel Elliott, who had one of the greatest rookie running back campaigns ever. They led Dallas to the NFC's best record at 13-3, and I believe the Cowboys could have beaten any other team in the divisional round other than scorching-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who won 34-31 at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys weren't overly active this offseason in terms of player additions in free agency, although they did lose a handful of defensive contributors from 2016 - especially in the secondary. Dallas took Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton with its first-round pick this year but then cornerbacks in Rounds 2 and 3. That defensive backfield could be a weak spot, and I'm not high on the defense overall. The offense should be excellent even assuming Elliott misses a game or two due to suspension and Prescott wasn't a one-year fluke. Having the best offensive line in football solves a lot of problems.
Dallas was 7-1 at home last season, 5-3 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Cowboys host four playoff teams from last season: NY Giants, Green Bay, Kansas City and Seattle, but at least none of those back-to-back. The home schedule looks a bit tougher than the road. Overall, Dallas has the 10th-toughest schedule in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2016 winning percentage of .531. BetOnline lists the Cowboys with a win total of 9.5, with the "over" a -130 favorite. I projected them to go 4-4 on the road so I'll go with just over that win total thanks to a 6-2 home mark. They probably win the division again only as I'm not super-high on the rest of the NFC East. Odds listed for the home team .
Sept. 10 vs. Giants (-4.5, 49.5): Sunday night opener. This line is likely to change if/when Elliott is suspended. It would be an upset if it's not at least one game. The Cowboys do have a pretty solid backup in Darren McFadden. The Giants were the only team to beat the Cowboys twice last year, doing so 20-19 in Week 1 at AT&T Stadium. You may remember that Dallas receiver Terrance Williams had a brain fart in the final seconds in not running out of bounds and giving kicker Dan Bailey a shot at the winning field-goal attempt. Prescott and Elliott were the first rookie quarterback-running back combo to start an opener for the Cowboys since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969. Key NFL betting trend: Cowboys 7-3 ATS in past 10 as at least a 4.5-point favorite in series.
Oct. 1 vs. Rams (-12.5): Still hard to believe the Jared Goff went 134 picks ahead of Prescott in last year's draft. This could be a trap game for Dallas on a short week after visiting Arizona on Monday in Week 3 and ahead of the Green Bay showdown. Former Cowboys coach Wade Phillips is now the Rams' defensive coordinator. Key betting trend: Cowboys 7-3 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC West.
Oct. 8 vs. Packers (-3): This is ahead of the Cowboys' bye week. Rematch of that fantastic divisional round game, really the only great playoff game last year other than the Super Bowl from about late third quarter on. At least the Cowboys don't have to worry about Packers tight end Jared Cook this time. Key betting trend: Cowboys 7-3 ATS in past 10 at home in series (including playoffs).
Nov. 5 vs. Chiefs (-6.5): This one could be extra interesting because it's a CBS game. Thus it almost surely will be that network's No. 1 broadcasting team, meaning Romo's first chance to work a Dallas game from the booth. In their last meeting, the Chiefs beat the Cowboys 17-16 in 2013. Key betting trend: Cowboys 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC West.
Nov. 19 vs. Eagles (-7): Sunday night. Dallas starts a three-game homestand off a trip to Atlanta in Week 10. Dallas beat the visiting Eagles 29-23 in OT in Week 8 last year on a Prescott to Jason Witten 5-yard TD pass. That was the only full game Prescott played against them and the only one Elliott played at all as they sat (Prescott played briefly) in Week 17 in Philly. Key betting trend: Cowboys 3-7 ATS in past 10 as at least a 7-point home favorite in the series.
Nov. 23 vs. Chargers (-10): Thanksgiving game. If by some miracle Jim Nantz and Romo aren't on that Chiefs game, they will be here. New Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, a Texas native, was a Cowboys assistant coach under Bill Parcells. Key betting trend: Cowboys 4-6 ATS in past 10 as a double-digit home favorite.
Nov. 30 vs. Redskins (-7): Thursday night. Washington also plays on Thanksgiving, so no turnaround time advantage for Dallas here. The Cowboys beat the visiting Redskins 31-26 on Turkey Day last year. Prescott threw for 195 and a TD while rushing for a score. Elliott had 20 carries for 97 yards and two TDs. Key betting trend: Cowboys 4-6 ATS in past 10 as at least a 7-point home favorite in series.
Dec. 24 vs. Seahawks (-3): Cowboys off a trip to Oakland in Week 15, so this would have to be the toughest two-game stretch of the season. This could have huge home-field implications for the playoffs. Prescott has the Seahawks to thank for injuring Romo last preseason. Seattle and Dallas have alternated wins in their past four meetings, with the Seahawks winning against Matt Cassel in 2015. Key betting trend: Cowboys 3-7 ATS in past 10 as a home favorite of 3 points or fewer.
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