(Editor's Note: The start of the 2017 season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to prepare. The Cowboys face a daunting schedule this year, highlighted by the AFC West and NFC West, as well as their traditional rivalries in the NFC East. Over the next two weeks, Bryan Broaddus will preview what to expect from all 13 of their upcoming opponents. The series continues with Week 8 and the Washington Redskins).
Series Record:Dallas leads, 68-44-2
This Year's Matchup:Oct. 29, FedEx Field; Nov. 30, AT&T Stadium
Best Draft Pick:Some days the Draft Gods smile on you and a player falls right in your lap. This was the case with the Redskins and their addition of Jonathan Allen out of Alabama. There was a difference of opinion about Solomon Thomas or Allen -- but both were considered top five players in this draft. What likely allowed Allen to fall to the 17th pick overall were his shoulders and the injury history there. The Redskins will play Allen at defensive end in their 3-4 scheme and then kick him inside on nickel situations. Like Thomas, his best pass rush moves were as an inside player when the Crimson Tide used him in that role. Where Allen is different from Thomas is his physical size or bulk. Allen is heavier and a much stronger player than Thomas, and during a long season you want a player that can physically hold up to the 16-week grind of games. That's what you get from Allen.
Best Free Agency Move:Losing Pierre Garcon was a big blow to the Redskins' offense, but to replace him with the super talented Terrelle Pryor will soften that sting. Pryor came into his own with the Browns in 2016 after waiting to be signed the majority of the offseason. Like Garcon, Pryor is a big-bodied receiver that will catch the ball all over the field. He might not have the sure hands of Garcon, but when he does catch it, he is a more explosive player. Pryor will benefit from the consistency of Kirk Cousins after spending a season where he really had no clue who his quarterback would be from week to week.
Most Troublesome Matchup:It would not surprise me one bit to see rookie Samaje Perine take over the starting running back role from Rob Kelley. Perine is a steady downhill runner. There is not much wiggle or shake to his game, but he is going to come at you down after down. His square build and low center of gravity makes him difficult to get a clean shot on him. At most college programs, he could have easily been the featured ball carrier, but at Oklahoma, Joe Mixon was just a better player. Perine is stout enough to be an every down player and his style will be a problem for opposing defenses. His ability will allow Jay Gruden to have a more balanced offensive attack.
Most Favorable Matchup:We'll see if the loss of Desean Jackson and his vertical, gamebreaking speed will hurt this offense. Josh Doctson was a nonfactor in 2016 and they will need him to play better without Jackson. I liked the signing of Pryor, and they have Jamison Crowder underneath. Jordan Reed will always be a factor as well -- but the threat of Jackson was always huge. Doctson and Pryor have some big shoes to fill.
Unsung Storyline:Kirk Cousins thrived with Sean McVay as his offensive coordinator. McVay has since moved onto the Los Angeles Rams and longtime NFL coach Matt Cavanaugh takes over as the offensive coordinator. Will Cavanaugh be able to keep Cousins on track or will there be a fall off? Word is that Cousins is potentially looking for a move once the season is over – so if things go poorly there are plenty of problems again.