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A Way Too Early Look At The Dallas Cowboys 2012 Schedule

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We take a look at the Cowboys schedule and analyze it for some early tough spots and areas where wins could be found.

It's breakout time, Dez Bryant.
It's breakout time, Dez Bryant.

Each year, there seems to be event after event that lets the entire sports world know that this is the NFL's world and all other sports are vying for second place.

Major League Baseball? One of the most intriguing starts to a season that I can remember. Are there even any games being played today, because it sure doesn't seem like anybody is covering them. National Basketball Association? Five or six games to go until the playoffs and number one through eight seeds are up for grabs in both conferences. Who plays tonight? Don't know? Me neither.

Hockey? Great scoring, better fights, still no love; at least not today. Nope, the NFL is king, and it proves it by having a three-hour schedule release special on two networks DESPITE the fact that most of the schedules are leaking info by the mound like a Metrodome roof packed with snow.

So we already knew that the Cowboys would open up the season Wednesday, September 5th playing at the New York Giants. Well, the New York media leaked the entire Giants schedule early in the afternoon and we learned that the Giants will visit Dallas not late in the season, but in Week 8. We love to overreact when this comes out, but time has told us that preseason strength of schedule never holds up once the season starts. The teams you think will be hurdles might not be; pushovers might stand tall. Injuries make all the difference in the world. But still, it's a heck of a lot of fun to play the schedule game.

Here's a look at the entire 2012 Dallas schedule:

Week Date Opponent National TV?
1 5-Sep @ NY Giants WNF (NBC)
2 16-Sep @ Seattle
3 23-Sep Tampa Bay
4 1-Oct Chicago MNF (ESPN)
5 7-Oct BYE
6 14-Oct @ Baltimore
7 21-Oct @ Carolina
8 28-Oct NY Giants
9 4-Nov @ Atlanta SNF (NBC)
10 11-Nov @ Philadelphia
11 18-Nov Cleveland
12 22-Nov Washington THKS (FOX)
13 2-Dec Philadelphia SNF (NBC)
14 9-Dec @ Cincinnati
15 16-Dec Pittsburgh
16 23-Dec New Orleans
17 30-Dec @ Washington

Here are some of my initial observations:

-- The Cowboys seem to have a well spaced schedule. After game 1, they get 11 days to prepare for a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Home for two games, then a bye week to get ready for a trip east to take on the Ravens. 10 days to get ready for the Philly matchup after Thanksgiving.

-- It's well spaced, but a lot of early travel. 6 of the first 9 contests are on the road. Dallas is one of only two teams that starts off with two road games. Of course, that means...

-- Cold weather doesn't hurt Dallas too bad as they play 5 out of their final 7 at home (Wk 14 @ Cincy Wk 17 @ Washington)

-- The December schedule finally doesn't include a 3 out of four against the NFC East, but boy is it brutal. Philly, @ Cincy, Pittsburgh, New Orleans before going to rival Washington? That's a pretty rough stretch.

-- There's a lot of parity in the NFL. I go through the schedule and see a lot of games Dallas can win, and then I look again and think that they could lose them just as easily. I guess that's what you get for an 8-8 team.

-- Is there even a "get fat" part of the schedule for Dallas? I can't find it. I can't find a single three-game stretch were I feel comfortable predicting three wins.

-- Dallas catches Philly under some of the best circumstances. they get them at home in December this time. Also, Philly will be coming off of Monday Night contests in both games prior to facing off against Dallas.

-- Dallas faces two teams coming off their bye week with two weeks to prepare for us: @ Carolina (Week 7) and vs Cleveland (Week 11). Could be worse, Philly plays four teams coming off a bye.

-- Want an off the wall prediction? Dallas strongly benefits from getting their division schedule started early this year. Call me crazy, but I think the less build up, the better the Cowboys will play in those games. I see an above .500 division record at the least, and possibly 5-1.

-- You want me on that wall!? You need me on that wall?!?! Fine! Season prediction sure to go wrong... Start off 6-1, losing to the Ravens. 6-3 after ATL and PHI, turns to 9-3 with the home run. Panic sets in with three straight December losses, but a win in the snow at Washington gives Dallas 10-6 and a division win over the Eagles. Take two of those and call me in the morning.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.