The NFL released its schedule last Thursday, which means it’s time to break down what it means for the Dallas Cowboys. According to the numbers, the Cowboys are right in the middle of the pack, tied for 15th for the strength of schedule based on 2017 results. So, what does that mean for the upcoming season?
Before examining the schedule, just a few words of wisdom, the schedule means very little right now. People who are angry or happy over Dallas’ schedule should realize it doesn’t hold much importance. In a league where the playoff turnover is roughly 50% each year, it’s silly to put too much stock in the schedule at this time. Teams that are supposed to be good, could wind up tanking and vice versa; games that look tough on paper right now, could look very different in five months.
The draft hasn’t happened yet and injuries are just around the corner. Usually, both have a say in how good some teams will be, it’s just too early to get your underwear in a bunch.
With that said, the schedule for the Cowboys doesn’t look daunting. They do play the AFC and NFC South Divisions respectively, both of which look challenging now, but it lines up nicely.
The season begins in Carolina, but the Panthers will be without linebacker Thomas Davis, due to a suspension. The Panthers were a playoff team last year, but this isn’t a scary game. Dallas then plays four of their next six games in the state of Texas and in domes. There is a trip to Seattle in week three and a cross-country flight to Washington D.C. before their bye, but the Seahawks aren’t as scary since they are rebuilding and the Cowboys have won five in a row on the road versus the Redskins.
“The draft hasn’t happened yet and injuries are just around the corner. Usually, both have a say in how good some teams will be …” – Ben Grimaldi on NFL Schedule release
Dallas does have four road games in their first seven weeks, but no back-to-back road contests before getting their bye in week eight. There are tough opponents in the first seven weeks, but it isn’t a grueling travel schedule and they will get the Seahawks on a short week, the Lions play on Sunday night before traveling to Dallas and the Jaguars will be on their second away game in a row when they play in week six.
However, after their off week, things get tougher for the Cowboys. In week 10 they’ll play the Philadelphia Eagles on a short week, while the Eagles are coming off of their bye. The Cowboys then travels to Atlanta, which has been a house of horrors for the team, before getting the Redskins at home on Thanksgiving, followed by the New Orleans Saints the next Thursday night.
This is the toughest stretch of games for the Cowboys: five games in 24 days and against very good teams, four out of which made the playoffs last season. It’s a rough patch, but the team is used to playing in these conditions every year and they do have their bye week before the grinding stretch of games.
The last four games begin with an extended amount of rest to prepare for their second contest against the Eagles, a game that ends a three-game home streak. Dallas will then alternate away and home games for the rest of the season, ending on the road against the New York Giants. The last three teams on the schedule won a total of 11 games last year.
Overall, the schedule is very manageable for the Dallas Cowboys. If the team drafts well, stays healthy and has Ezekiel Elliott for 16 games, the playoffs look like a real possibility.
In the grand scheme of things, the schedule is much ado about nothing right now. Logistically, it shouldn’t be difficult to navigate.
You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi