Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 4/21/12
After a disappointing (to some) 8-8 campaign by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, the pressure would seem to be building on those in charge of The Team That Used to be America's to return them to glory sometime soon.

The only problem with that is that they are faced with a schedule that will be sending then on the road for 6 of their first 9 games. That, among other things, highlights the 2012 schedule for the Cowboys.

Let's take a closer look...

September 5: @ N.Y. Giants (Week 1):
It probably seems like the Cowboys would be making far more than just their first appearance in the NFL's opening night game, but this game versus the defending champion Giants does account for their first time on the NFL's opening night. This will be the third consecutive Cowboys-Giants game to be on NBC, and is being played on a Wednesday night rather than the traditional Thursday, since President Obama's Democratic National Convention speech happens the following night. I wouldn't look for a Presidential performance from the Cowboys here, though, as the Giants own them as of late, and since the defending Super Bowl champion has never lost the opening night NBC game since it's inception. I'll pick the Giants to win here.
Projected Cowboys' record: 0-1

September 16: @Seahawks (Week 2):
On the surface, this doesn't look like it would be one to give the Cowboys a whole lot of trouble, except for the fact that they just can't ever seem to win in Seattle. So despite the fact that they easily handled the Seahawks in Arlington a year ago, I see trouble ahead for them here. Two things, really: the aforementioned problems of the franchise as a whole to win in Seattle, and the fact that the Seahawks now have a competent quarterback in Matt Flynn. I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat from Cowboys fans for this one, but I see the Seahawks sending them to an 0-2 start.
Projected Cowboys' record: 0-2

September 23: vs. Buccaneers (Week 3):
If there is a hole in the Cowboys' early-season schedule, it's probably here in the home opener against the Bucs and new coach Greg Schiano. But, I mean who really knows anymore? With the Cowboys' penchant to both play down to the level of the few teams they are truly better than and their complete and utter inability to consistently play well at Jerry World since it opened., this one could well be a crap shoot. The only thing I keep seeing, though, is Tony Romo torching the Bucs as he's done the few times he's played them, so I'll give the Cowboys their first win here.
Projected Cowboys' record: 1-2

October 1: vs. Bears (Week 4):
You could make a strong case that this Monday night matchup pits the two teams that were the top two disappointments in the NFL a year ago. The Bears are really the ones who have a strong case for that, though, since they had a season with Super Bowl hopes riddled by injuries one year after losing the NFC title game at home to the Packers. That being said, I see the Bears continuing the early-season (and, as it turns out, whole season) miseries for the Cowboys and handing them another loss here as Rob Ryan's defense continues to get torched by inadequate quarterbacks (looking at you, Jay Cutler).
Projected Cowboys' record: 1-3

October 14: @ Ravens (Week 6):
After the bye week, the misery continues for the Cowboys when they travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens. I have all sorts of fun facts to accompany me on this game preview. Did you know that the Ravens are the only NFL team the Cowboys have never beaten? Or that in the two games they've previously played in Baltimore they have scored a grand total of three points? Most of you, I'm sure, are aware that the Ravens also closed out Texas Stadium by beating the Cowboys the last time these teams played. All of that is just my way of telling you that I see another loss coming for the Cowboys here. Not even Mr. Inflated Ego himself Joe Flacco can screw this one up for the Ravens.
Projected Cowboys' record: 1-4

October 21: @ Panthers (Week 7):
Week 7 finds the Cowboys in Charlotte and getting their first up-close-and-personal look at the Cam Newton Experience. While this would appear to be a good place to hang yet another loss on the Cowboys, I'm not going to do that here. In a strange bit of trivia that perhaps only I find interesting, Charlotte is one of the few road stadiums the Cowboyy truly seem to play well in these days. And while Newton will probably light up the Cowboys' swiss-cheese defense, I see them scoring an equally high amoutn of points against a still-not-quite-good-enough Panther secondary and therefore winning a 38-35 type game. Or basically the only kind of game they can win anymore.
Projected Cowboys' record: 2-4

October 28: vs, Giants (Week 8):
I don't really have a lot to say here that I didn't already say about these teams for the first game, but since I'm trying to fill column inches here, I'll give it a shot. And by "give it a shot", I mean stupid, pointless comedy about how Eli Manning owns the Cowboys, particularly in their own building. Such as how Jerry Jones really shouldn't be stressing so much over a sponsor for Jerry World when he has Manning, the man who truly owns it, right there on the other sideline one Sunday a year to show him how it is. And yes, this means I'm handing the Cowboys another loss here.
Projected Cowboys' record: 2-5

November 4: @ Falcons (Week 9):
By this point in time, in a desperate attempt to put yet another positive spin on yet another horribly inadequate season, Jerry Jones should probably start trying to crown his team the "champions of the NFC South." It won't get them to the playoffs since they don't actually play in the NFC South, but after a trip to the Georgia Dome in which the Cowboys do what they so often do and win a big game against a better team to delay the inevitable when everyone has long since written them off, it's about all he has left. Which is probably more than the always-disappointing Falcons have left. So there's that.
Projected Cowboys' record: 3-5

November 11: @ Eagles (Week 10):
And then there's this. A return trip to Philadelphia where it all began to truly go horribly wrong last year for the Cowboys, and contrary to the old-time country song that wonders if the circle will be unbroken, I feel pretty confident in saying that this particular circle won't be unbroken. Nothing like a good, old-fashioned beat down from Mike Vick to send the Cowboys back to the depths of the NFC East in a game in which they played, and were treated, like such dogs that it almost gets Vick sent back to prison.
Projected Cowboys' record: 3-6

November 18: vs. Browns (Week 11);
Ah, but they are the Cowboys, which means you can't quite rule them out yet, especially since they get to begin the finishing kick of the season with a three-game home stand that starts by allowing them to kick around the Browns. Now, given their penchant for playing down to the competition (which come to think of it could be pretty much anyone these days), it might be close for awhile, but as usual, just when you're about to apply the ten count, they'll get off the mat and live to fight another day. If Cleveland had any talent at all, I'd be tempted to go the other way. But I won't. Not yet, anyway.
Projected Cowboys' record: 4-6

November 22: vs. Redskins (Week 12);
Seems odd that a Cowboys season could advance all the way to Thanksgiving Day before they play the Redskins for the first time, but here we are in just that situation. And since we find the Cowboys once again one loss from certain NFL extinction for another year, it's not a moment too soon. Another fun fact for you: the Cowboys have never lost to their hated rivals on Thanksgiving. And in yet another Dallas-area ritual that goes with the win here, Cowboys' fans give thanks that their team lived to see another day. Or do they?
Projected Cowboys' record: 5-6

December 2: vs. Eagles (Week 13);
I've resisted long enough, but here comes the official demise of the Cowboys' 2012 season, and at the hands of the one team their fans probably want to see it happen against the least. The Eagles probably thought they had ended the Cowboys' season three weeks ago, but instead, it ends where so many of them have lately" on a Sunday night in their own stadium (assuming, of course, the NFL doesn't flex another game in it's place). Either way, it''s yet another season that is ended at the hands of another of their overly-giddy NFC East rivals.
Projected Cowboys' record: 5-7

December 9: @ Bengals (Week 14):
Nothing like a cold Sunday in Cincinnati to make Cowboys' fans lust after what they can't have, but that's exactly what happens when TCU grad Andy Dalton torches his hometown team in his first appearance against them, lifting the Bengals near the AFC's hierarchy and sending the Cowboys to a loss that officially makes them not winners for another season. In the end, though it still mostly falls at the feet of the fat guy's defense, seeing Dalton slinging it around so easily in an Ohio snowstorm makes Cowboys fans start pointing their guns at their own signal-caller once again.
Projected Cowboys' record: 5-8

December 16: vs. Steelers (Week 15):
It's a shame when you think about how insane the football world might go if the Cowboys and Steelers were playing a truly big game in late December, but alas it's far more likely we'll find the Cowboys playing out yet another string long before this particular December Sunday comes around. I wouldn't look for the Steelers to exactly be in the holiday giving spirit though, especially since they'll be battling the Ravens and quite possibly the Bengals for the AFC North title. Plus, I'm sure the Steelers would like to leave Cowboys Stadium with a little better feeling than they did the only other time they played there, when they lost Super Bowl XLV to the Packers.
Projected Cowboys' record: 5-9

December 23: vs. Saints (Week 16):
Two days before Christmas, and apparently the NFL is choosing to drop it's delivery of coal right into Jerry World when the Cowboys face the Saints. This almost certainly would have been a loss for the Cowboys before the events surrounding the Saints organization and bounties, and when you add in the fact that this is the penultimate week of the season and they'll be in a hurry to get the 2012 campaign over with and start over, I see two teams who quite frankly might both quit in this one. Someone has to win though, so I'll give it to the Cowboys.
Projected Cowboys' record: 6-9

December 30: @ Redskins (Week 17):
And what a disappointingly fitting way to end the season for both of these teams than to end it in our Nation's Capitol less than a month away from the start of what will almost equally as surely be a disappointing Presidential campaign, no matter who wins that race, either. What I guess I'm trying to say is that politics and football, at least when using these two teams in the analogy, are a lot alike in that they both often fail to deliver on their promises (or expectations) and leave you wanting more in the end. As for the result, I'll take the Cowboys.
Final projected Cowboys' record: 7-9

Well, there you have it. According to me, your (somewhat) fearless prognosticator, we have a 7-9 Cowboys finish, and no doubt another off-season of discontent in Dallas.

Oh, and since it is the political season, I have one thing left to say...my name is John Garces, and I approve this column.

Till next time...

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