The Cowboys have completed their OTAs and minicamp practices. The offseason is history. Training camp in Oxnard is up next in late July.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2016 season.
Today, our staff continues the series by predicting the scariest road game on the Cowboys' schedule this season.
18) What's the scariest road game the Cowboys have this season?
Bryan Broaddus: Going to Minnesota on Thursday night will be no bargain. The Cowboys haven't won in Minneapolis since 1995 and have lost 5 straight since their last victory in the Twin Cities. Not only will the Cowboys have to deal with the Vikings on the field but the fans in the stands as well. Known as one of the most vocal crowds in the league, their new U.S. Bank Stadium should be hostile. What will make matters worse for Dallas, is that they will be coming off a stretch where they would have played Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington – so health of the team might be in questionable shape. If the Cowboys are going to make a run in December like they did in 2014 to the divisional title, it is going to have to come against one of the most talented teams in the NFL and a favorite to be a Super Bowl team when it is all said and done.
Rob Phillips:I imagine Jason Garrett doesn't like to use the word "scary" around here, but anytime you're going up to Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers, it's arguably the toughest challenge of your season. The Cowboys' defense did an admirable job last December at Lambeau Field without much offensive help. The Packers are getting Jordy Nelson back healthy this season, so you expect him to have a positive domino effect on the rest of their offense. This year's matchup is in Week 6, so DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory will have completed their four-game suspensions. Will they have any rust in what would be their second game back? The pass rush will be absolutely critical against arguably the league's most prolific quarterback, and without Rolando McClain roaming the middle due to his 10-game suspension.
David Helman: The Cowboys' pass rush is facing an uphill battle to begin with – but that's only going to get harder when they're facing a quarterback as difficult to bring down as Ben Roethlisberger. Dallas goes to Heinz Field to face Pittsburgh on Nov. 13, when the historical average is about 52 degrees. It'll be a chilly afternoon, and I can't shake the image of Cowboys tacklers trying – and failing – to sack Big Ben, right before he rifles long bombs to the likes of Antonio Brown or Ladarius Green. The Steelers are 87-32-1 at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001. That's a winning percentage of 73 percent, which is third-best in the NFL behind New England and Baltimore. Pittsburgh has only failed to achieve at winning record at home once in the last 15 years, and that was in 2003, when the Steelers went 4-4 at Heinz Field. Since Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, the Steelers are 71-25 when they play at home. All of that adds up to make the Cowboys' Week 10 road trip sound awfully daunting.
Nick Eatman:I think all of the road games are "scary" and throw in the home ones, as well. For a team that went 4-12 last year, nothing is a given. My answer stems from seeing too many of these Week 17 clashes that have gone against the Cowboys. So I'll pick the regular-season finale at Philadelphia as the scariest game on the schedule. I'm going to assume Tony Romo stays healthy this year. And Romo has never played in a game where the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs. When he's on the field, it's never a meaningless game. That being said, look for this year's finale to have some playoff implications as well. We all remember the 44-6 debacle in 2008, and the other road-game failures in Washington and New York in 2011 and 2012. Without Romo, the Cowboys came up short at home to the Eagles in 2013. Usually, the Cowboys have had trouble in the last game of the year, especially on the road. So with that, I see that one being the scariest game because it'll probably mean more than any other.