Will Cowboys survive this time without Tony Romo?

Tony Romo will miss at least the first six regular-season games after suffering a back injury Thursday night. How does that affect Dallas' chances to make the playoffs and win the NFC East? The SportsLine Projection Model has the answer.

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Playing without Tony Romo didn't go well for the Cowboys last year. They went 1-11 while averaging 15.8 points.

Now, after Romo suffered a compression fracture in his back Thursday, Dallas will be without its leader for at least the first six games.

Tony Romo Healthy
NFC East Baseline Wins Win Div. Playoffs 
Cowboys 8.5 38.0% 48.8%
Giants 8.0 29.8% 39.4%
Eagles 7.3 20.2% 26.9%
Redskins 6.6 12.1% 16.8%

The announcement came Saturday night and the betting impact was immediate.

For its season opener, Dallas had been a 3.5- or 4-point home favorite over the Giants. Most books reopened the game at pick-'em.

Dallas had been listed at 22/1 to win the Super Bowl. BookMaker spokesman Scott Cooley estimated the Cowboys could be as high as 30/1 when futures betting reopens.

But with rookie QB Dak Prescott lighting up the preseason, will there be really be a significant dropoff?

The SportsLine Projection Model says the injury cost Dallas half a win. Our computer now projects Dallas for eight wins instead of 8.5.

Tony Romo Hurt
Romo out 6 games Wins Win Div. Playoffs 
Giants 8.0 32.7% 40.7%
Cowboys 8.0 31.9% 40.4%
Eagles 7.2 21.1% 27.0%
Redskins 6.6 14.2% 18.5%

Dropping half a win might not sound like much, but in baseball it would equate to 13 fewer wins over the course of a season. The Jets won 10 games last year and didn't even make the playoffs. In the NFL, every win is critical.

Prescott earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2014 and 2015 and ranks third in the SEC in career total yards (11,897) and fourth in total touchdowns (111). This preseason, he's thrown for 454 yards and five touchdowns with no picks.

After Romo went down on the third play Thursday against Seattle, Prescott came in and went 17 of 23 for 116 yards, including a  17-yard scoring strike to Jason Witten.

But Prescott's impressive exhibition numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. He wasn't facing full-strength, first-team defenses.

But after watching Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore flounder last year in place of Romo, you can understand why Prescott is generating more optimism.