Know what I hate? Preseason predictions. I hate it when some radio or TV personality takes an NFL team's upcoming schedule and goes week by week, predicting wins and losses.
One reason I hate it is because of how much the face of the NFL changes from year to year. This free agency era is a free-for-all where last year's champ is this year's chump and vice versa. The strength of schedule thing is too hard to figure out before the season begins. About four weeks in, you start to get a clue about who is for real and who isn't. But not before the first whistle of the first regular season game. No way.
So, what am I going to do about it?
Easy. I am going to give you my prediction for the upcoming season. If you can't beat the pundits, join them…and beat them at their own game.
At first blush, the Cowboys' 2012 schedule looks brutal. It is hard to find a patsy anywhere on it. The only week they are guaranteed not to lose is week 5—their bye week.
Nevertheless, I have my helmet on and am prepared to lay my record as a prognosticator on the line…
@ New York Giants
Wed, 09/05 at 7:30 PM CDT
The Giants beat the Cowboys at the end of last season, catapulting themselves into the postseason and paving the way for the Cowboys to spend another postseason relaxing and catching up on their honey-do's. For the second time in four years, the Giants posted a pedestrian regular season record and then rode an incredible postseason wave to the Lombardi trophy. But that was then…
Prediction: Romo out-duels Eli Manning in a 27-21 Cowboys' victory.
Cowboys record: 1-0
@ Seattle Seahawks
Sun, 09/16 at 3:05 PM CDT
I do not believe in Pete Carroll. I believe he can win big at the college level as long as someone (not him, obviously) is cheating and helping him accumulate superior talent. At the NFL level, the talent pool is too evenly spread. Besides, who is going to be the Seahawks' QB again?
Prediction: Cowboys overcome CenturyLink Field's 12th man and escape with 17-13 victory.
Cowboys record: 2-0.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sun, 09/23 at 12:00 PM CDT
The Bucs will be the third best team in their division this year, behind the Saints and Falcons. They will also be the second best team on the field against the Cowboys.
Prediction: Cowboys, 28-10
Cowboys record: 3-0
Mon, 10/01 at 7:30 PM CDT
Intriguing matchup between Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, two supremely talented QBs that have yet to come up big at the right moment, and have each made bonehead decisions at critical times. But this is early regular season, not the postseason. This will be a shootout in the heart of Texas.
Prediction: Cowboys win, 35-31
Cowboys record: 4-0
@ Baltimore Ravens
Sun, 10/14 at 12:00 PM CDT
M&T Bank Stadium
The Ravens feature a ravenous D, a capable QB and a stud running back. They will also deal the Cowboys their first loss, despite the Boys coming off a much-needed respite.
Ravens win 27-10.
Cowboys record: 4-1
@ Carolina Panthers
Sun, 10/21 at 12:00 PM CDT
Bank of America Stadium
Cam Newton will make his presence felt by land and by air.
Panthers win, 31-21
Cowboys record: 4-2
New York Giants
Sun, 10/28 at 3:25 PM CDT
After the week one loss and the slow start out of the gate, the Giants are smarting. Eli owes the Cowboys one and Cowboys Stadium, where he is undefeated, feels like home.
Giants spank Cowboys, 34-17
Cowboys record: 4-3
@ Atlanta Falcons
Sun, 11/04 at 7:20 PM CST
The Falcons are good, a contender in their division. But this is November and Romo owns November.
Cowboys wake up from Giants' hangover and the good Romo quiets critics for a few hours in a convincing 27-7 win.
Cowboys record: 5-3
@ Philadelphia Eagles
Sun, 11/11 at 3:25 PM CST
Lincoln Financial Field
With the death of Garrett Reid, son of Andy Reid, one of the NFC's best and most revered coaches, the Eagles will be playing inspired football in 2012, especially against their rivals. They get the Cowboys at home.
Eagles win in an ugly slugfest, 13-10.
Cowboys record: 5-4
Sun, 11/18 at 12:00 PM CST
The Browns represent, on paper, the weakest opponent of the year. That on-paper thing is overrated and the Cowboys will struggle to put the Browns away.
Cowboys survive, 14-10.
Cowboys record: 6-4
Thu, 11/22 at 3:15 PM CST
RGIII us the real deal. He is also a rookie and this is Cowboys' country.
Cowboys win behind Romo (this is still November), 33-21.
Cowboys record: 7-4
Sun, 12/02 at 7:20 PM CST
Uh-oh. Calendar turns over. December now. Time for team swoon. Nah…
Cowboys even season series with Eagles and win, 27-24.
Cowboys record: 8-4
@ Cincinnati Bengals
Sun, 12/09 at 12:00 PM CST
Paul Brown Stadium
The Bengals will be a mess by December.
Cowboys win big, 35-13.
Cowboys record: 9-4
Sun, 12/16 at 3:25 PM CST
The Steelers will once again be in the AFC mix for the championship. They will come to the Cowboys' home with resolve. And…
They will lose to the Cowboys, 28-27.
Cowboys record: 10-4
New Orleans Saints
Sun, 12/23 at 12:00 PM CST
Saints will be without Sean Payton. They will not be without Drew Brees.
Saints spank Cowboys, 38-20.
Cowboys record: 10-5
@ Washington Redskins
Sun, 12/30 at 12:00 PM CST
Jason Garrett proves he has grown up as a head coach and leads his team to a season sweep of the Redskins.
Cowboys win, 21-14.
Cowboys record: 11-5
With an 11-5 record, the Cowboys will win their division and earn a wildcard week bye, guaranteeing they make the second round of the playoffs.
What happens from there?
I don't know. I am not into predictions.