FRISCO, Texas – I keep a printout of the Cowboys' schedule hanging right above my laptop at work, and every day I do something that'd undoubtedly make Jason Garrett pull his hair out.
I try to predict the future. How well are the Cowboys' opponents playing? How long until their next road trip? Will the San Francisco team they face Oct. 2 look like the one that shut out L.A., or the one that got handled by Carolina? Will the Packers' offense still look disjointed by Week 6, or will Aaron Rodgers have gotten it together?
Will Tony Romo be the starting quarterback Week 8 against Philadelphia? What will the record be when that game rolls around?
It's all speculation, and it all goes against the fiber of Garrett's being. At his first press conference of Week 3, Garrett refused to even speculate about Sunday night's game against the Bears – preferring to focus on having a great Wednesday.
It's frustrating to hear as a member of the media, but I understand why the Cowboys' head coach prefers to keep his team focused on the moment.
Fortunately, I'm not bound by that limitation, so I've got some thoughts on this week and how it pertains to the future.
So, here we go:
1.I don't know if you watched the Bears play Philadelphia on Monday night, but this doesn't appear to be a good football team. Of course they have some good players – Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and Kyle Long all come to mind – but that doesn't come together to form too formidable of an opponent.
Chicago ranks 31st in the league in total offense. They rank 30th in scoring offense. They haven't looked particularly good at running or throwing the ball, and seven of their 28 total points this year came off a special teams touchdown.
Now, it's fair to say that the Bears were so putrid against two of the best defenses in the NFL – Houston, at No. 3, and Philadelphia at No. 4 in the league. But they also lost Jay Cutler for what looks like at least a few weeks, so it'll be Brian Hoyer trying to improve their fortunes at AT&T Stadium.
Point being: this looks like about as manageable a game as the Cowboys will play in the next six weeks. San Francisco is a West Coast road trip, while Cincinnati and Green Bay are playoff contenders with seasoned quarterbacks. Philadelphia, as I just mentioned, fields a nasty defense – and Carson Wentz has looked impressive so far.
Take all of that into consideration, and this is matchup with an injury-depleted Bears team is one the Cowboys can ill-afford to lose.
2.Despite everything I just said, I roll my eyes at people who call this a "trap game" for the Cowboys.
Trap games are for juggernauts – the select few teams who are head and shoulders above the rest. However good he might look so far, Dak Prescott is still a rookie starting just his third NFL game. On top of that, the Dallas defense certainly looks susceptible – even against a struggling opponent like the Bears. The Cowboys are not a juggernaut.
It's possible the Cowboys will dispatch the Bears with ease, but you'd have to be an idiot to bet on it – and I did some math to back up my point.
Since Jason Garrett took over as the Cowboys' head coach midway through 2010, he's coached 92 games. The Cowboys have won 13 of those 92 games by two touchdowns or more – which is what qualifies as a blowout in the NFL, in my opinion. They've lost 10 of 92 games by two touchdowns or more.
This isn't rocket science, given Garrett's 47-45 career record as head coach. But 75 percent of the games he has coached have either come down to the wire or been close in the fourth quarter. Regardless of what the Bears look like heading into this game, it'd be silly to think Sunday will be any different.
3.I've got my eye on the Cowboys' rush defense entering this game, though. A good running game is a backup quarterback's best friend, and the Cowboys have surrendered 4.8 yards per carry through two games.
The Bears have struggled to an average of just 68 yards per game so far, but second-year running back Jeremy Langford has shown flashes. As many chunk plays as the Dallas secondary surrendered last week, I thought the Redskins likely could've pulled out a win if they had focused more on the run – particularly in the red zone.
Faced with the prospect of starting Brian Hoyer, I wonder if the Bears try to get their ground game going – which could prove successful against this front seven.
4.Hey, people. Make up your minds. One week you were mad at Terrance Williams for not going out of bounds on the game's final play. The next week, you were mad at Terrance Williams because he didn't make any plays.
Look, I get it. Williams is a four-year starter and the team's No. 2 receiver. You want to see him do stuff. But I'd ask you to keep in mind that you're watching a rookie quarterback who is clearly trying to minimize his mistakes.
Williams was on the field for 42 plays on Sunday. Of those 42 plays, he was covered by Josh Norman on 20 – so roughly half of them. If I'm Dak Prescott, I'm doing my best to not even look Norman's way, which appears to have been exactly what he did.
I'm not trying to say it's great that Williams didn't have a target. But I would point out that it didn't affect the offense's productivity, so I don't really care.
5.I can't stop thinking back to those chilly mornings we spent in Mobile, Ala., watching those Senior Bowl practices – fresh off a 4-12 season. At the time, all of our attention was focused on Carson Wentz, but who would've thought that would only be the beginning.
With Jacoby Brissett slated to start for the Patriots on Thursday night, literally half of this year's Senior Bowl quarterbacks will be in starting lineups for Week 3. Wentz is the obvious starter in Philly, while Prescott is handling the job for the Cowboys. Brissett is the starter for at least one week – if not two – in New England. Add in Cody Kessler, who will start for the Browns after injuries to both of the quarterbacks above him, and you've got quite a lineup.
If you had told me way back in January that all four of them would start as rookies, I'd have laughed really hard.
6.Speaking of the Patriots, can we quit with the hand-wringing about their quarterback situation?
I feel terrible for Jimmy Garoppolo, considering his long-awaited chance to start has been derailed by injury. And I'm curious about Brissett, because I covered him at the Senior Bowl.
But given the fact that the Patriots are 2-0 to start the season, is this even an issue? At all?
Even if the Patriots lose their next two games, they're still dealing with a 2-2 record when Tom Brady returns from suspension. The last time they started 2-2 to open a season, they went on to win Super Bowl XLIX.
This is a total non-story in the big picture.
7.As long as I'm complaining, I'll go ahead and tell you about another thing that grinds my gears – this horrific Dak-Wentz debate.
If Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott both develop into the faces of their respective franchises over the next decade, then it'll be only natural for Eagles and Cowboys fans to debate who is better – that's what rival fans do. The quickest way to make a Cowboys or Giants fan angry is to start an Eli-Romo debate.
Having said that, the two rookies have combined to start four games. Literally four games. We have no idea how good they actually are – or if they will continue to get better. Save that debate for the offseason, when both players have a bigger resume. Better yet, save it for two or more years from now, when we really know what each guy brings to the table.
Along that same topic of conversation: Cowboys fans, spare me the bragging about Dallas finding Dak in the fourth round, while Philly had to pay a fortune to trade up for Wentz. Finding a franchise quarterback is a tough thing to do. If you pull it off, it was probably worth the price you paid -- regardless of what it was.
Again, these are topics that are best left for 2017 or 2018. Can we just enjoy watching talented rookies play ball for a little while?
8.Promising Browns rookie wide out Corey Coleman broke his hand at practice on Wednesday night -- as if Cleveland needed more bad news, after injuries to both Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown.
Given the truckload of draft picks they've accumulated over the past nine months, Browns fans should still feel good about the future. But man, it sure seems hard to retain any optimism for 2016 after this horrific start to the season.
But this picture is a pretty awesome reminder for any Clevelander suffering through football season.
9. Myles Jack Watch:Jack got onto the field during the tail end of Jacksonville's blowout loss to San Diego. He made two tackles, which is a start. But for the time being, it sounds like Jack is entrenched behind starting Mike linebacker Paul Posluszny. If the Jags continue losing, I wonder if or how it affects the rookie's playing time.
10.I was on a flight back from Washington when the Cardinals smacked down the Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon. Given the lopsided nature of the score, I didn't really look too hard for highlights or recaps. That was clearly a mistake, given that I missed this magnificence:
So, Carson Palmer warmed up whilst dressed like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – all because he lost a quarterback competition at practice? The costume is utterly horrifying, but I love it so much. Even though it's a billion dollar industry, football is still a game – and I love it when athletes and coaches have the confidence to treat it as such.
11.I decided to publicly pick every NFL game this season, partially to see how well I'd do and partially because I'm a glutton for punishment. For the rest of the year, I'll put my picks here and keep track of how I did – although I won't make my Cowboys pick until we make them as a staff on Friday afternoon.
In Week 1, I went an impressive 12-4. In Week 2, I followed that up with a deplorable 7-9.
Without further ado, here's Week 3 – home team in caps:
Houston over NEW ENGLAND
Arizona over BUFFALO
Oakland over TENNESSEE
MIAMI over Cleveland
JACKSONVILLE over Baltimore
GREEN BAY over Detroit
Denver over CINCINNATI
CAROLINA over Minnesota
Washington over NEW YORK GIANTS
TAMPA BAY over Los Angeles
SEATTLE over San Francisco
New York Jets over KANSAS CITY
INDIANAPOLIS over San Diego
PITTSBURGH over Philadelphia
NEW ORLEANS over Atlanta