Breakdown: For the third time in the past four seasons, the Dallas Cowboys will open the season against the New York Giants, with their NFC East rivals visiting AT&T Stadium in Week 1. The Giants won their first four games at AT&T Stadium but have lost their last two in Arlington, Texas, and four in a row to the Cowboys overall.
The Cowboys will meet DeMarco Murray in Week 2 at Philadelphia, so that emotion will be taken away early. The bye week comes after they play the New England Patriots in Week 5, giving them an extra week to get ready for their trip to New York.
Always a national draw, the Cowboys have their requisite five games on prime time, with three games on NBC and a game each on ESPN and NFL Network. They could have a sixth, depending on the flex scheduling late in the season.
Complaint department: It’s difficult to come up with big complaints. Last year was easy: The Cowboys had a night game on the road leading into their Thanksgiving game against the Eagles and played like a team without any chance. Maybe we can call this the quibble department. Seeing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving would have been more special than a Week 5 meeting. The toughest two-game spell looks to be Nov. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks and Nov. 8 against the Eagles, but both of those games are at home. If there is a complaint on the Cowboys’ end, it can only be mild in that they have a short week to get ready for their return trip to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers after facing the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. They follow up the Green Bay game with a Saturday meeting against the New York Jets on Dec. 19. But if that’s the biggest complaint, things aren’t that bad for the Cowboys.
Closing time: For years, the Cowboys had a rough time in December -- in part because they weren’t good enough, but in part because of the quality of teams they faced. Last year, the Cowboys had three of their four December games on the road in cold-weather cities and won all three, mixed in with a home victory over Indianapolis. They have three cold-weather games this year, at Washington on Dec. 7, at Green Bay on Dec. 13 and at Buffalo on Dec. 27. They also play the New York Jets and close the season against Washington. The combined record of the Bills, Jets and Redskins last year was 17-31. If the Cowboys can make it through the early part of the season, they might be able to close strong again.
Strength of schedule: 24th, .467
Cowboys Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at Philadelphia, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, Atlanta, 1:00 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, New England, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at N.Y. Giants, 4:25 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, Seattle, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Miami, 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 26, Carolina, 4:30 p.m.
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 7, at Washington, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.
Week 15: Saturday, Dec. 19, N.Y. Jets, 8:25 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, Washington, 1:00 p.m.