Here’s how the Dallas Cowboys open the 2017 season, and they may not have Ezekiel Elliott, who has been suspended for the first six games, pending appeal:
vs the New York Giants. The Cowboys lost to them twice last year. Elliott’s worst game of 2016 came against the Giants (20 carries, 51 yards in the season opener).
at Denver. The rush defense is very suspect. Allowed 130 yards per game last year, 28th in the NFL. But on the road, the pressure will be on Dak Prescott, especially if the Cowboys come into this game 0-1.
at Arizona. Depends which Cardinals show up this year. The 2015 Cards, which went to the NFC Championship, or the 2016 Cards, which were a disaster and missed the playoffs. Arizona opens on the road against Matt Stafford and Andrew Luck, so this will be their 1st home game. The Cardinals rush defense was 2nd in the NFL last year in yards per rush (3.6).
vs Los Angeles. Jay Glazer told me on my radio show that he thinks the Rams will be the surprise of the NFL and a .500 team. (And he said that before they got Sammy Watkins.) The Rams defense, led by Aaron Donald, was a Top 10 unit last year against the run. The offense still comes into the season with major questions. It’d be easy for the Cowboys to overlook the Rams with The Rematch looming.
vs Green Bay: The Cowboys handled the Packers on the road last year, and get them at home this year the week before a bye. It’ll be a rematch of the playoff classic, when Elliott ran for 125 yards and 5.7 ypc.
at San Francisco: The 49ers are ascending, and actually led the Cowboys 14-0 last year before Dallas started playing and rallied to win easily. Kyle Shanahan and Brian Hoyer won’t scare the Dallas defense, but the game is sandwiched between a bye week and a trip to the rival Redskins.
The Cowboys will be comfortably favored vs the Rams and 49ers. But the other games? Within a field goal or they might be dogs.