Cowboys 2012 staff predictions
Todd Archer, Tim MacMahon and Calvin Watkins break down the Cowboys' 2012 season. Make your predictions here.
2012 Predictions (all times CT)
Wednesday, Sept. 5, 7:30 p.m. -- Cowboys at Giants (NBC)
Todd Archer: The Cowboys should've won the season opener last year against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium but didn't. They get another chance to. There will be a lot of distractions for the Giants and motivation for the Cowboys.
Tim MacMahon: Look on the bright side: This won't be nearly as painful as the Cowboys' last loss at MetLife. Victor Cruz salsa dances despite Brandon Carr's bold words.
Calvin Watkins: The Giants are going to bring back the old guard and celebrate their world title at the season opener. It's going to be fun. Well, not really, especially if you're a Cowboys fan.
Sunday, Sept. 16, 3:05 p.m. -- Cowboys at Seahawks (FOX)
Todd Archer: Can Matt Flynn come to Seattle from Green Bay and do what Matt Hasselbeck did? Pete Carroll hopes so. The Seahawks have a better defense than people know and a running game that can give people trouble.
Tim MacMahon: The Cowboys won't let a win slip away in Tony Romo's return to Seattle.
Calvin Watkins: Seattle is a good town. If you come to the game, get there early and eat at the pier before kickoff. Good times for all Cowboys fans. Seattle fans might have had enough of Carroll by the end of this one.
Sunday, Sept. 23, noon -- Bucs at Cowboys (FOX)
Todd Archer: New coach Greg Schiano has made plenty of changes, but that defense still has plenty of holes. The Cowboys tore up the Bucs last year and do it again in 2012.
Tim MacMahon: The Bucs were the one team the Cowboys could defeat in December. Beating Tampa Bay in another month shouldn't be a problem.
Calvin Watkins: The Bucs should be better with a new coach, and they have some talent. But so do the Cowboys. Miles Austin beats up the Tampa secondary, and Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have their best games of the season.
Monday, Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. -- Bears at Cowboys (ESPN)
Todd Archer: Brandon Marshall had a few big plays the last time he saw the Cowboys while with Denver, when he had Jay Cutler as his QB. He doesn't get them this time.
Tim MacMahon: I'd feel much better about the Cowboys' chances to finish off the Bears if Marion Barber hadn't retired.
Calvin Watkins: If the Cowboys' pass rush is improved, expect Cutler to get sacked four times. Brandon Carr gets two picks and, what a surprise, Jason Witten catches two TD passes.
>> BYE WEEK <<
Sunday, Oct. 14, noon -- Cowboys at Ravens (FOX)
Todd Archer: Joe Flacco might consider himself the best QB in the NFL, but the Ravens remain all about Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed. All three come up with big plays to slow down the Cowboys.
Tim MacMahon: Haloti Ngata and Lewis will provide plenty of evidence that the Cowboys haven't solved their interior offensive line issues.
Calvin Watkins: This is a tough place to play. The Ravens have won 27 games here since 2006. Ray Rice reminds everyone how the Cowboys messed up in the 2008 draft. It might be cold, rainy or snowy. Or the sun could be shining. It won't matter.
Sunday, Oct. 21, noon -- Cowboys at Panthers (FOX)
Todd Archer: Is Cam Newton the real thing? He had a terrific rookie season and reinvigorated Steve Smith last year. But if the Cowboys are to be taken seriously, they have to win this game even if it's not in convincing fashion.
Tim MacMahon: Newton is worth the price of admission, but Romo pulls out the win with a game-winning TD drive at the site of his first NFL start.
Calvin Watkins: Killer Cam is one of those quarterbacks the Cowboys will have problems with. He's big, physical and fast. But he's all the Panthers have right now. The Cowboys can handle the lower half of the NFC South because they have better skill position players.
Sunday, Oct. 28, 3:15 p.m. -- Giants at Cowboys (FOX)
Todd Archer: Can Eli Manning really improve to 4-0 at Cowboys Stadium? Yep. Until the Cowboys beat the Giants in Arlington, it's difficult to go against the Super Bowl champs.
Tim MacMahon: Does Jerry Jones have to make mortgage payments to Manning? Everyone knows Eli (3-0 at JerryWorld) owns Cowboys Stadium.
Calvin Watkins: The Giants have never lost at Cowboys Stadium. The defending world champs are mentally tougher than the Cowboys and thrive on adverse situations. The rematch goes to the wire, and I'll take Big Blue.
Sunday, Nov. 4, 7:20 p.m. -- Cowboys at Falcons (NBC)
Todd Archer: Matt Ryan is a much better quarterback inside the Georgia Dome than on the road. The Falcons have plenty of playmakers on offense and just enough on defense.
Tim MacMahon: When does Ryan get the rap of being an overrated quarterback? He'd love to have Tony Romo's numbers and record.
Calvin Watkins: Since 2008, the Falcons are 26-6 at the Georgia Dome. The last time the Cowboys were here, T.O. spit, accidentally, in DeAngelo Hall's face. The Falcons have a new QB and the Cowboys have gone through two coaches since then. The current one gets his team ready to play on this day and Romo outplays Ryan.
Sunday, Nov. 11, 3:15 p.m. -- Cowboys at Eagles (FOX)
Todd Archer: The Eagles have so much speed at running back (LeSean McCoy), quarterback (Michael Vick) and wide receiver (Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson) that the Cowboys will be spinning. McCoy dances his way to the end zone.
Tim MacMahon: Rumor: Andy Reid and Buddy Ryan shared custody of the Ryan twins while they were growing up. How else to explain Reid's daddy-like dominance of Rob and Rex?
Calvin Watkins: The Cowboys need Jay Ratliff in this game. He needs to beat double teams. He needs to get pressures. And of course, he does all this. It's his best game of the season. It's a game the Cowboys will need for potential tiebreakers.
Sunday, Nov. 18, noon -- Browns at Cowboys (CBS)
Todd Archer: Colt McCoy's return to his native Texas does not go well as the Cowboys throw it all over the Browns defense. Jason Witten catches two touchdown passes here.
Tim MacMahon: Will Cleveland's quarterback be McCoy or Ryan Tannehill? Does it matter? It shouldn't be a happy homecoming for the native Texan under center for the Browns.
Calvin Watkins: If the Cowboys lose to the Browns at Cowboys Stadium, they should shut the place down.
Thursday, Nov. 22, 3:15 p.m. -- Redskins at Cowboys (FOX)
Todd Archer: Robert Griffin III, say hello to DeMarcus Ware. A few times. But this game won't be a blowout because they never are against the Redskins.
Tim MacMahon: The Cowboys might even mix in a TD in their win over the Redskins at JerryWorld this season. That's assuming Romo won't have to rely on Kevin Ogletree at receiver.
Calvin Watkins: We like RGIII. Not in this game. Cowboys get five sacks, Rob Ryan calls the dogs off in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys score some TDs on offense, unlike last year at Cowboys Stadium when Dan Bailey took control. This time, Tony Romo throws four TD passes.
Sunday, Dec. 2, 7:20 p.m. -- Eagles at Cowboys (NBC)
Todd Archer: Tony Romo did not make it past the first series of the game last year because of a bruised hand. He does this year, but it's DeMarco Murray who makes the biggest difference in a crucial NFC East win.
Tim MacMahon: Odds are Mike Vick will miss one of the Cowboys' games due to injuries. They'll beat the backup.
Calvin Watkins: The Eagles swept Dallas last season, but this Cowboys team is different. Dez Bryant makes two big plays in the second half and DeMarcus Ware brings Vick down three times in the fourth quarter. But somehow Dan Bailey has to win it.
Sunday, Dec. 9, noon -- Cowboys at Bengals (FOX)
Todd Archer: The Bengals seem to ride this seasonal roller coaster. They made the playoffs last year with rookie Andy Dalton and added a solid back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis to go with some solid receivers and tight ends. Do you think Terence Newman will be excited for this one?
Tim MacMahon: Newman, like Bobby Carpenter an old pal of Tony Romo's, starts a Bengals rally with a pick six. Unless he pulls his groin en route to the end zone.
Calvin Watkins: Mike Zimmer vs. Rob Ryan. Newman and Pacman Jones vs. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Andy Dalton vs. Tony Romo. Mike Brown vs. Jerry Jones. It should be fun. Might be the most underrated game on the schedule.
Sunday, Dec. 16, 3:15 -- Steelers at Cowboys (CBS)
Todd Archer: The last time the Steelers came to town their fans owned Texas Stadium. They'll own Cowboys Stadium, too. Ben Roethlisberger hits SMU-ex Emmanuel Sanders for the winner.
Tim MacMahon: Roethlisberger's army of receivers exposes the lack of depth in the Cowboys' secondary.
Calvin Watkins: The Cowboys haven't beaten the Steelers since 1997. The Steelers are coming off a playoff berth, but they're not the same team. The Cowboys need this game. Badly. DeMarco Murray picks apart Dick LeBeau's defense for 135 yards.
Sunday, Dec. 23, noon -- Saints at Cowboys (FOX)
Todd Archer: This would've been a bigger game had Bill Parcells become the Saints' coach. Two years ago the Cowboys stretched New Orleans, who needed a Roy Williams' fumble to win. Roy's not playing this time.
Tim MacMahon: Williams won't be around to screw up this thrilling upset for the Cowboys.
Calvin Watkins: It doesn't matter if Sean Payton, Bill Parcells or Herm Edwards is coaching the team, the Saints have too many offensive weapons and the best quarterback on the field. The Saints are too fast, too talented and just better.
Sunday, Dec. 30, noon -- Cowboys at Redskins (FOX)
Todd Archer: The Cowboys keep Tony Romo clean and Dez Bryant has his way with the Redskins' corners. Any of them. The season sweep is a must for the Cowboys' playoff hopes.
Tim MacMahon: Rex Grossman looked like a legitimate NFL starter the last time the Cowboys were at FedEx Field. Robert Griffin III will look like a Pro Bowler.
Calvin Watkins: It's never easy at FedEx Field -- blocked kicks, holds negating TDs, fumbles at the end of the half. It's a crazy place when the Cowboys and Redskins get together. This is no different. Expect a blocked field goal, a couple of INTs and hometown fans going home happy.