It’s easy to look at certain matchups that are more appealing than others and to get excited for certain times of the year. The schedule release is when people tend to plan a lot of fall trips, hopefully whatever you had to plan is going well.
There are some chin-scratching things about the Cowboys schedule though, things that don’t immediately jump out at you. Here they are, in all their glory.
We’ve seen this exact start to the season very recently
Dallas opens up their season against the New York Giants on a Sunday afternoon and then follows that up with a road trip in Washington with an early kick. This is exactly how they started the season off three years ago, the rookie seasons of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Two division games to get the season started is a tall task for anyone. It’s assumed that both New York and Washington will struggle this season, but things are hard to predict in April. If Dallas is able to get those two wins early it will set them up quite nicely. They did start the season off 2-0 with two wins in division just the year before in 2015, for what it’s worth.
Dallas doesn’t have two straight games at home all season
There are not two games for the Cowboys in 2019 that will be played consecutively at home, that is unless they host a playoff game in the Wildcard or Divisional rounds. Amazingly the Cowboys are basically flip-flopping locations all season long.
This certainly feels like a disadvantage when you think about it, but truthfully almost four teams across the NFL are dealing with it. The Baltimore Ravens have the exact situation regarding their schedule and both the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots don’t host consecutive games until the season’s last two weeks.
There will be three straight primetime games
It’s not that primetime has become overrated within NFL games, but sometimes being in the afternoon slot on Sunday can be more valuable. That’s why the Cowboys are there so often.
Still though, primetime is primetime. The Cowboys maxed out as far as games under the lights are concerned (that’s five in case you didn’t know) but what’s particularly amazing is that three of them are happening in a row.
Beginning in Week 7 the Cowboys will host the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, be on their bye, visit the Giants on Monday Night Football, and then host the Vikings once again on SNF. That is a month of Cowboys action for the world.
This is also two division games plus a conference opponent, that Minnesota game will be particularly fun. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is 4-12 on primetime in his career, here’s to continuing his strong streak!
Dallas will be done with the Giants very soon
That MNF game in New York will actually be the second game for Dallas at MetLife Stadium (thanks to the visit to the Jets earlier in the season) and their second contest against the Giants on the season. Shockingly, the Cowboys will finish their season games with the G-Men on the fourth day of November.
Listen to a discussion on all of these nuggets on the latest episode of OchoLive
That’s really early for the Cowboys to be done with any division rival, but that’s just the way that the schedule shook out. New York isn’t expected to contend for the division title by any means, but being done with them certainly won’t be bad.
There will be an extra amount of rest after the bye... again
When the Cowboys head to New York for the final game of Week 9 they’ll be doing so coming off of their bye. That means the Cowboys have the entire bye week AND an extra day of rest before their next game.
If you think this sounds familiar it’s because it does. Last season the Cowboys came off of their bye and headed straight into their MNF game against the Tennessee Titans (Amari Cooper’s first game with the team). Unlike then, when Tennessee was also coming off of their bye, the Giants will be coming off of a normal Sunday game while Dallas will be extra rested.
Both games against Washington are scheduled for 1 PM ET
The Cowboys very rarely play games in the early slot on Sundays because, well, they’re the Cowboys. They get placed in slots where tons of people will be watching.
Looking at their division games, the Cowboys have primetime and afternoon contests against both the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. Shockingly, although perhaps not so much, both games against the Redskins are currently scheduled for 1 PM ET kickoffs.
This says a lot about who Washington is as a franchise, at least how they’re perceived by NFL schedule-makers. While the Week 17 game isn’t technically a 1 PM ET game as all games in that week are structured entering it to put the most playoff-defining ones in the best spots, the fact remains that the Redskins seem to be the ugly stepchild of the NFC East at the moment.
A majority of the division games bookend the season, and all of them are played in a back to back fashion
We discussed how the Cowboys will play two division games to open their season, but they’ll also play two of them to close it.
Dallas opens against New York and at Washington, they finish their season at Philadelphia and against Washington. It’s an awfully big roll of the dice to hope that a team, any team, is playing strong at season’s beginning and end.
The good news is that 75% of these games are against teams (New York and Washington) that most Cowboys fans aren’t too fearful of. The December 22nd game in Philadelphia is going to be a thriller in all likelihood, hopefully we’re on the right end of it.
What’s also interesting about the division games in 2019 is that they come in clusters. While the Cowboys open and close with two division games they also host the Eagles and visit the Giants in consecutive matchups (during the primetime run we mentioned). The only difference there is the bye week falls in between them.