Normally, the Dallas Cowboys don’t put much stock into the results of preseason games, but this season will be different. The Jerry Jones regime will have to utilize the preseason to evaluate this year’s roster, desperately. Recent headlines have made it crystal clear that the ground at the Star in Frisco is still unstable.
In fact, many of the young defensive players the team was prepared to rely on this year may not be available at all. Second year defensive end Randy Gregory has been reported as failing another drug test and could potentially miss the team’s first ten games. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and linebacker Rolando McClain are both suspended for at least the first four games.
Evaluation of the young defensive talent will be imperative if the Cowboys expect to field a defense that can help what many consider a top of the line offense reach their expected heights. Here’s a breakdown of each of the Cowboys’ preseason games with analysis and final score predictions:
Dallas Cowboys Preseason Schedule Predictions
Week 1 – August 13th 7:00 pm CDT – (ESPN and NFL Hard Knocks)
Cowboys at Rams
Head Coach Jason Garrett and his staff will likely keep the first team offense in the corral. There might be a brief appearance by the number one, offensive line and running backs. But be ready to see a plethora of veterans who are on the bubble and young players fight for roster spots that are seemingly up for grabs now.
The Los Angeles Rams have a spirited defensive unit that will be an excellent litmus test for the Cowboys current backup quarterback Kellen Moore. Running backs Alfred Morris and Ezekiel Elliot will see a substantial amount of work as well. Quarterback Jameill Showers will undoubtedly get the majority of the second half snaps. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott may see limited action late in the game but this is Moore’s backup job to lose. The Cowboys will give him every opportunity to do so.
Don’t be surprised if former Eagles and Rams starting quarterback Nick Foles shows up at Cowboys training camp in the next few days. He could run one of the other guys off the roster. Considering the team just used a fourth round draft pick on Prescott, Moore and Showers will feel the heat if Foles does show up.
NFL Hard knocks cameras will have their eyeballs all over the place during this exhibition battle scheduled to be televised on ESPN on a Saturday night. All eyes should and will be focused on the Cowboys’ defense. Rookie defensive lineman Charles Tapper will shine in his debut. The final score should indicate that the Cowboys can still put up points, but the defense will give up a late score to surrender the win to the Rams.
Rams 21, Cowboys 17
Week 2 – August 19th 7:00 pm CDT – (Local CBS)
Dolphins at Cowboys
The Cowboys will feel the ire of the coaches during the practice week, powering them to a winning performance against the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium. Expect to see quarterback Tony Romo and the first team offense for at least one series. He and receiver Dez Bryant will link up for a dynamic play or two. Elliot will begin to assert himself while challenging for the starting nod at running back.
Moore will perform better at home. Look for him to utilize tight ends Gavin Escobar and Geoff Swaim to pick up critical first downs and extend drives. Receivers Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams should also get into the act. One of them may actually haul in Moore’s first touchdown pass of the preseason.
The Cowboys defense will rise up to seal the deal. The secondary will create a couple turnovers and the defensive line will put pressure on all of the Dolphins quarterbacks. The linebackers will fly around, making it difficult for the Dolphins to run the football. It will be an all-around good performance as the team heads into its dress rehearsal game the following week.
Cowboys 17, Dolphins 10
Week 3 – August 25th 9:00 pm CDT – (Local CBS)
Cowboys at Seahawks
Fittingly, the dress rehearsal pits the Boys against their other West Coast nemesis, the Seattle Seahawks. Both teams will play their regulars in the first half, exploding to a 17-17 first half tie. The Cowboys’ defense will bend but won’t break. Quarterback Russell Wilson won’t be sacked but he’ll face plenty of pressure. Look for the Cowboys to work at keeping him in the pocket.
The backup defensive backfield will hold up just enough in the second half to keep the Cowboys on top in this one. Linebackers Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchins and Andrew Gackhar will track down Seahawks runners, slowing their newly altered running game. Running Back Robert Turbin won’t play long enough to impact the game.
They will miss recently retired Marshawn Lynch’s tendency to bull his way through the line even when it’s clogged up. Both teams will put up yards and points. Turnovers and special teams will be the difference. The Cowboys will head into their final preseason game feeling very good about themselves.
Cowboys 24, Seahawks 20
Week 4 – September 1st 7:00 pm CDT – (Local CBS)
Texans 14 at Cowboys 28
Prescott will see his most extensive action in the Governor’s Bowl against the Houston Texans, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions through two full quarters. He’ll solidify his grasp on the third quarterback spot, sending Showers packing with the final cuts. Running back Darren McFadden will get a chance to carry the load as he returns from the injury he sustained about a month before training camp opened.
The offensive and defensive lines of the Cowboys will put on their best showing as players work to position themselves on the final 53-man roster. Defensive end Charles Tapper will deliver another standout performance, producing several quarterback hurries and maybe even a sack or two. Defensive back Orlando Scandrick should get a chance to make his presence felt in the first half.
Receiver Devin Street will show some punch as both a pass-catcher and downfield blocker. His effort will spark the team’s offense to victory. Look for him to set up or deliver a touchdown with a catch over the middle, early in the second half. He’ll also provide some great blocking on the edge, clearing the path for McFadden to run for a touchdown.
Cowboys 28, Texans 14
Finishing the preseason at 3-1 won’t be an indication that the team is ready to make a playoff run. But it will provide some much needed optimism heading into the season opener against the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. The regular season schedule looks formidable. It will be important for the young players to develop quickly. This season won’t offer the team any room for error. Opening the season with back to back games against NFC East rivals (Washington Redskins – Week 2) is a pressure cooker.