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There’s no getting around the fact that the Dallas Cowboys had a disappointing 2020 NFL season. After going into the season as the clear favorites in what turned out to be easily the worst division in football, the Cowboys went 6-10 in Mike McCarthy’s first season and finished third in the NFC East, missing out on the postseason for a second consecutive year.

Sure, the Dak Prescott injury hurt but it’s not as if that was the only reason the Cowboys struggled as the offensive line suffered a number of injuries as well. The Dallas defense was one of the worst in the NFL and gave up a franchise-worst 473 points, an issue Cowboys fans hope will improve with Dan Quinn replacing Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator.

Jerry Jones & Co. also used the team’s first six picks in the draft on defensive players, which was certainly a surprise. Not all of them may make an impact in 2021 but it at least shows that Dallas is committed to fixing what was clearly the team’s biggest problem a season ago.

With Prescott and his new $160 million contract expected to be ready for Week 1 of the ’21 campaign, a healthier offensive line, and what should be an improved defense (it really can’t get any worse), the Dallas Cowboys will likely again be the favorites to win the NFC East. It also doesn’t hurt that Dallas has the second-easiest schedule in the NFL heading into the inaugural 17-game season despite the fact they have to go on the road to face both participants from Super Bowl 55.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of three teams that face both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in 2021

Despite having the second-easiest schedule in 2021 based on last season’s standings, the Dallas Cowboys still face the daunting task of having to square off with both Super Bowl 55 participants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, both of whom are again expected to contend for the Lombardi Trophy.

As the NFC East plays the NFC South and AFC West this season, the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Washington Football Team also play both teams, as do the Buffalo Bills. But the Cowboys, Giants, and Bills all have to face both on the road and Dallas will get started right away as they visit Tom Brady and the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium to open the season on Thursday, September 9. The Cowboys visit the Chiefs in Week 11.

Their 14 opponents in 2021 won a combined 105 games last season

The Dallas Cowboys logo as seen at AT&T Stadium in 2018
Dallas Cowboys logo | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Taking all 17 games on the 2021 NFL schedule into account, the Cowboys’ opponents had a combined record of 122-148-2 in 2020, which calculates to a .452 winning percentage. Only the Eagles have an easier slate with a .430 strength of schedule.

Obviously, the Cowboys aren’t playing 17 different teams in 2021 as they take on Washington, the Giants, and the Eagles twice. So taking that into account, the 14 teams Dallas plays this upcoming season had a combined record of 105-118-1 last season, which calculates to a .471 winning percentage, which is still quite favorable. Here’s how each of their opponents finished in 2020:

  • Arizona Cardinals: 8-8
  • Atlanta Falcons: 4-12
  • Carolina Panthers: 5-11
  • Denver Broncos: 5-11
  • Kansas City Chiefs: 14-2
  • Las Vegas Raiders: 8-8
  • Los Angeles Chargers: 7-9
  • Minnesota Vikings: 7-9
  • New England Patriots: 7-9
  • New Orleans Saints: 12-4
  • New York Giants: 6-10
  • Philadelphia Eagles: 4-11-1
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11-5
  • Washington Football Team: 7-9

The Dallas Cowboys’ entire 2021 schedule

Here’s a look at the Dallas Cowboys’ entire 2021 schedule. (All times Eastern.)

  • Week 1: @ Tampa Bay (Thursday, September 9 – 8:20 p.m.)
  • Week 2: @ LA Chargers (Sunday, September 19 – 4:25 p.m. )
  • Week 3: vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Monday, September 27 – 8:15 p.m.)
  • Week 4: vs. Carolina Panthers (Sunday, October 3 – 1:00 p.m.)
  • Week 5: vs. New York Giants (Sunday, October 10 – 4:25 p.m.)
  • Week 6: @ New England Patriots (Sunday, October 17 – 4:25 p.m.)
  • Week 7: BYE
  • Week 8: @ Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, October 31 – 8:20 p.m.)
  • Week 9: vs. Denver Broncos (Sunday, November 7 – 1:00 p.m.)
  • Week 10: vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, November 14 – 1:00 p.m.)
  • Week 11: @ Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, November 21 – 4:25 p.m.)
  • Week 12: vs. Las Vegas Raiders (Thursday, November 25 – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Week 13: @ New Orleans Saints (Thursday, December 2 – 8:20 p.m.)
  • Week 14: @ Washington Football Team (Sunday, December 12 – 1:00 p.m.)
  • Week 15: @New York Giants (Sunday, December 19 – 1:00 p.m.)
  • Week 16: vs. Washington Football Team (Sunday, December 26 – 8:20 p.m.)
  • Week 17: vs. Arizona Cardinals (Sunday, January 2 – 1:00 p.m.)
  • Week 18: @ Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, January 9 – 1:00 p.m.)

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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