On paper, the Dallas Cowboys 2017 schedule certainly looks a lot tougher than what they faced a season ago. That's what happens when you finished dead last in the division one year and win the division the next. But, you won't hear the Cowboys complaining about their 2017 schedule. That's just not there nature.
I previously shared with all of you my 2017 win/loss prediction for the Dallas Cowboys. I thought I would follow that up by identifying the toughest adversaries the Cowboys will face in each game of the 2017 season. Let me know if you agree or disagree with who I identified as being the toughest adversaries the Cowboys will face this season.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
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The Dallas Cowboys will open of the 2017 season against the New York Giants at home and see them once again in Week 14. The Giants are arguably the Cowboys toughest NFC East division opponent, which pretty much guarantees these games will be close and hard-fought, ultimately coming down to the final seconds.
Make no mistake, the Giants have a talented team, but I believe the toughest adversary they have on their roster is wide receiver OBJ. Beckham Jr. is one of the best WRs in the entire league and has to be accounted for on every single play. He will be a tough matchup for the Cowboys' young secondary, especially early in the season.
Von Miller, DE, Denver Broncos
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In Week 2 of the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys will play their first road game against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are one of the more talented teams in the entire NFL, but the quarterback play is really the only thing holding them back from being a serious Super Bowl contender.
The toughest adversary the Cowboys will see against the Broncos is without a doubt defensive end Von Miller. Miller is arguably the best pass rusher in the entire NFL and I can almost guarantee that he will be matched up against whoever the Cowboys employ at the right tackle position. The Cowboys have to have a plan to help neutralize Miller from putting pressure on Dak Prescott and disrupting the passing game if they want to win this game.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
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In Week 3, the Dallas Cowboys will play their first back to back road game of the season when they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are a talented team, but they also have quite a few aging players in key positions that could hinder their performance in 2017.
It's no secret running back David Johnson is the key to success for the Cardinals, which makes him the toughest adversary against the Cowboys. Johnson is one of the best all-around RBs in the league and the one player the Cowboys' defense has to keep in check. Fortunately, the defense should be prepared for Johnson after practicing against Ezekiel Elliott.
Wade Phillips, DC, Los Angeles Rams
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After back-to-back road games, the Dallas Cowboys return home to take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4. This should be one of the most winnable games on the 2017 schedule for the Cowboys, but nothing is a given in the NFL.
The Rams are in the middle of a rebuild, so there's not a lot of individual players Dallas should really have to worry about. I thought about going with Todd Gurley or Aaron Donald here, but I think the toughest adversary is going to be former Cowboys head coach and current Rams defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips.
Phillips is switching the Rams defense from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4, but LA has quite a bit of high draft picks invested on that side of the ball. You can bet Phillips wants to stick it to the team he was the last head coach of, especially since he feels he didn't get a fair chance with to begin with.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
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If there is one team on the Cowboys' 2017 schedule I'm tired of seeing, it's the Green Bay Packers. Just about every time these two teams square off there is a controversial call that ultimately decides the outcome of the game, but let's hope it's different Week 5.
The toughest adversary the Cowboys will see from Green Bay is 100% Aaron Rodgers. There simply isn't another player on the entire Green Bay roster that is more important to the team than Rogers. They are going to win or lose by how well Rogers performs in 2017.
San Francisco 49ers Defensive Front
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Coming off their bye week, the Dallas Cowboys head out on the road once again to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Like the LA Rams, the 49ers are in the middle of a rebuild with very little talent on either side of the ball that should concern the Cowboys.
The 49ers have invested quite a few of their high draft picks in their defensive line, which likely makes them the toughest adversary for Dallas. Arik Armistead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas were all high draft picks and could give the Cowboys talented offensive line some trouble. But, it's nothing the Cowboys' OL shouldn't be able to handle.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
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In Week 7, the Dallas Cowboys play their second back to back games of the 2017 season when they travel to Washington to take on the Redskins. They will play each other once again in Week 13. Just like every other NFC East division game, it's guaranteed to be a hard-fought battle that comes down to the very end.
The Redskins continue to improve their roster and become a more complete team, but their toughest adversary for Dallas has to be quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins will have nearly an entire new set of starting WRs, making the Redskins best chance of winning in 2017 coming from the QBs arm and the connection he develops with his receivers.
Tyreek Hill, WR/KR, Kansas City Chiefs
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After back-to-back road games, the Dallas Cowboys finally return home to take on a talented Kansas City Chiefs team in Week 9. The Chiefs were a controversial call away from being one of the final few teams left the playoffs in 2016, and have a roster packed full of talent.
With the team as talented as the Chiefs, it was a little difficult narrowing down the biggest adversary for the Cowboys. But, I finally decided on second-year WR/KR Tyreek Hill. He is dangerous anytime the ball is in his hands and can score from anywhere on the field. He will be a difficult matchup problem for both the Cowboys secondary and special teams units.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
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The Dallas Cowboys will head out on the road in Week 10 to take on a very talented Atlanta Falcons team. The Falcons have one of the best offenses in the entire NFL and a young defense that shows a lot of promise.
I personally believe the toughest adversary for the Cowboys against the Falcons is none other than wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones is one of the best WRs in the entire NFL and when healthy can take over a game by himself. This will be a tough matchup for the Cowboys young secondary, but hopefully they can come up with a game plan to limit Jones' effectiveness.
Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
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The Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 and 17 of the 2017 season. This NFC East divisional matchup is always entertaining because these two teams truly hate one another. The Eagles are a very talented team, but not when you compare their roster to the Cowboys.
I think the toughest adversary in this matchup is defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Cox has developed into one of the better DTs in the entire NFL and is effective in both the running and passing game. I would be surprised if he has matched up with Zack Martin very often, instead he will probably be playing against whoever the Cowboys insert at left guard.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
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The Los Angeles Chargers are one of the more confusing teams to analyze on the Cowboys' 2017 schedule. They have a balanced blend of veterans and youth throughout their roster and are talented enough to give the Cowboys some trouble.
The Chargers have a talented pass rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, but I still believe the toughest adversary for the Cowboys is quarterback Philip Rivers. This Week 12 matchup will ultimately come down to how Rivers performs and if the Cowboys defense can do enough to keep him out of the end zone. Rivers may be one of the older players on the roster, but he still has plenty left in the tank.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders
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In week 15, the Dallas Cowboys travel to Oakland to take on a talented and playoff caliber Raiders team. This team is built much like the Cowboys, which should make for a very entertaining/close ballgame.
The Raiders were able to lure Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to become their featured back and it is a gamble that could pay off huge in 2017. A year away from the game could have benefited Lynch, because he is entering that age were players bodies start to break down. If he returns to anywhere near “Beastmode”, the Cowboys defense could have their hands full.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
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The Dallas Cowboys play their final home game of the 2017 season against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16. Hopefully the Cowboys have secured their playoff spot by now, but if not this game could have huge implications to their playoff hopes/seeding.
It would've been too easy to go with one of Seattle's talented defensive players, but I think the Cowboys' offense can do enough to put points on the board. I believe quarterback Russell Wilson will be the toughest adversary in this matchup. If the Cowboys defense can fluster and limit Wilson's productivity, they should be able to put enough points on the board to win this game.